Manners maketh man. And if you watched Kingsman: The Secret Service, you’d also know that manners maketh mayhem.
That 2014 movie based on Mark Millar’s The Secret Service comic turned the spy genre upside-down with its over-the-top action sequences, scene-chewing villainy (courtesy of Samuel L. Jackson) and gleefully gratuitous violence and vulgarity.
It also introduced the Kingsman, a covert British spy agency that would have kicked James Bond out for ungentlemanly conduct.
The first movie made a surprisingly decent amount of money, and as anyone in Hollywood will tell you, money maketh more movies. Which brings us to Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
After the events in the first movie, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is now a full-fledged member of the Kingsman, living the high-flying life as both a spy and the boyfriend of Swedish princess Tilde (Hanna Alstrom).
Things take an explosive turn when the entire Kingsman organisation is wiped out, leaving Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) the sole survivors.
With nowhere left to go, they head across the pond to seek help from their American counterparts – Statesman, which is housed in a whiskey distillery and has members codenamed after alcoholic beverages.
Jeff Bridges plays leader Champagne (or Champ, as he likes to be known); Channing Tatum is the shotgun-savvy Tequila; Pedro Pascal plays the lasso-virtuoso Whiskey; and Hally Berry is Ginger Ale the stuck-behind-a-computer equivalent of Merlin in Statesman.
There, Eggsy learns that his mentor Harry (Colin Firth) miraculously survived after being shot in the eye in the first movie, but is also suffering amnesia and cannot remember being a Kingsman at all.
It wouldn’t be a Kingsman movie without an over-the-top villain, and here it’s the deliciously psychopathic Poppy Adams.
Julianne Moore seems to be having a blast playing the drug lord with a fetish for 1950s Americana (her Cambodian lair has a shiny diner, bowling alley and a theatre with Elton John on a permanent, albeit reluctant, residency) and a habit of turning her henchmen into mincemeat (literally).
Bring on the bombast
If the first Kingsman movie turned the over-the-top dial to 11, this one rips the darn dial off completely.
The novelty factor is gone now, but to director Matthew Vaughn’s credit, The Golden Circle never feels like it’s rehashing the previous film’s themes.
Instead, Vaughn gleefully revels in the chance to dial up the bombast and ludicrousness. Laser lassos, spinning snow lifts, killer robot dogs, machine-gun briefcases, exploding baseballs … some of the ideas featured here seem like they were taken from Q’s rejected Bond inventions pile, but they fit perfectly into The Golden Circle’s heightened sense of over-the-top mayhem.
There’s even time for John to make a foul-mouth extended cameo that culminates in arguably the most unexpected way to stop a killer robot dog ever.
With so much going on, it’s no surprise that some parts of the movie seem underdeveloped.
For instance, there’s a completely unnecessary scene at Glastonbury Festival that feels like it was added just to raise the movie’s shock factor.
But most glaringly, the entire Statesman angle is way too shallow, with its role in the movie pretty much limited to providing our heroes the resources they need and being instrumental in bringing Harry back to life.
And don’t get me started about how criminally underused Tatum is in the movie.
Despite these flaws, The Golden Circle is still worth the watch. It just about manages to push the boundaries of ludicrousness without spilling over into ridiculousness, and in the process, delivers an exhilaratingly entertaining experience.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges