DIR: Matthew Vaughn • WRI: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn • PRO: Adam Bohling, David Reid, Matthew Vaughn • DOP: George Richmond • ED: Eddie Hamilton • DES: Darren Gilford • MUS: Henry Jackman, Matthew Margeson • CAST: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Channing Tatum, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Elton John, Jeff Bridges, Edward Holcroft, Pedro Pascal, Hanna Alstrom
Following the success of 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, director Matthew Vaughn is back with its sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Set a year on from the closing events of the first Kingsman film, The Golden Circle sees Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) adjusting to life without his mentor Harry Hart (Colin Firth). The action of the film kicks off right away, and after an ambush by failed Kingsman trainee Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft) results in the destruction of all Kingsman headquarters, Eggsy and his trainer Merlin (Mark Strong) are left to deal with the aftermath. As sole survivors of the attack, they follow their Doomsday protocol which leads them to Kentucky in search of American spy organisation Statesman. After making contact with Ginger Ale (Halle Berry) and agents Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Whisky (Pedro Pascal), Eggsy and Merlin discover that Harry Hart survived the attempt on his life and has been left with invasive amnesia.
Working with the agents of Statesman, Eggsy and Merlin try to reboot Hart’s memory, but the task proves much more difficult than originally thought. They also uncover that Hesketh has been recruited by The Golden Circle, a New World Order drugs cartel helmed by Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore). Viewing herself as a top-class entrepreneur, Poppy resents that the illegality of her trade pushes her into hiding, and releases a deadly virus into her product, infecting millions across the globe. With Poppy only promising the antidote once her drugs are legalised, the race is on for Eggsy to reboot Hart and get his hands on the cure.
In a slightly unusual move, the promotional material for The Golden Circle heavily featured Firth’s character, back and very much alive following his presumed death. The content advertising the film alerted would-be audiences to Hart’s survival, rather than keeping it secret so as to surprise viewers. As a result of this, the moment of revelation within the film does fall slightly flat; the audience already knew he had survived, and so the narrative confirmation loses its punch.
In spite of this, The Golden Circle maintains all the personality of the first Kingsman movie; high-energy fight scenes are intercut with brief moments of sincerity and humorous one-liners. Themes introduced in the first film continue to thread through the action, with notions of class and privilege coming under closer scrutiny as a result of the involvement of drugs in the storyline.
Issues with narcotics are framed largely as a problem of the working classes, with the references to the US War on Drugs also drawing in the racialized aspects of demonising drug culture over providing rehabilitation outlets. However, as Poppy’s virus begins to affect those of privileged and upper-class backgrounds – Eggsy’s girlfriend Princess Tilde (Hanna Alstrom) falls victim to the tainted drugs – the moral and social stigma surrounding drug use shifts and it is paramount that these people are saved, indicating how the ethics of some issues aren’t considered until they begin to affect those at the top.
In this way, The Golden Circle allows for brief moments of critical engagement, as well as kick-ass action.
Sadhbh Ni Bhroin
18 (See IFCO for details)
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is released 20th September 2017