Sequels are hard. For every successful film there’s always talk of another entry, a follow-up installment that will explore the “mythology” of the created universe – whether super or not – and bring back all those things you loved and more. But the balancing act between bringing the familiar and the new together whilst still servicing the characters and the story is hard. For every worthy sequel count ten unworthy.
It’s the challenge presented to director Matthew Vaughn and his crew after the wildly successful Kingsman: The Secret Service charmed audiences and took home a huge box office three years ago. So, where have they taken us? Eggsy (Edgerton) is now firmly a Kingsman and he and Merlin (Strong) are now the keyholders so to speak. But when word (and then destruction) spreads of an evil drugs peddler (Moore) wanting to unleash her product across the world and for the world leaders into surrendering to her whim, the Kingsman need a little help. Enter The Statesman, USA’s equivalent led by Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges who help Eggsy and Merlin in their time of need, as well as an old friend who could lend a helping hand.
If you enjoyed the first one – whether it was it’s over-the-top set pieces, its robust R-rated-ness or indeed it’s humour then The Golden Circle will undoubtedly be right up your street as, for better or worse, it’s more of the same cranked up to 11. Actually, make that 111. Amplified in every possible way, Vaughn and co have taken the route of bigger means better and for those of you keen for that then it ticks every single box but for those wanting more you sadly will be underwhelmed here.
All the best sequels, whether Godfather II, The Empire Strikes Back or The Dark Knight, all managed to find the perfect balance of more of the same while embracing of the new and while the makers here are certainly aiming for such heights they sadly fall well short. Kingsman is indeed a different beast to all of those films and should be treated as such, but when the film makes no real attempt to do anything invigorating and fresh it falls back to type, easily swayed into familiar territory then exploring uncharted ground.
God bless, then, Julianne Moore who’s wonderful performance here is the saving grace amongst a sea of A-list, award-winning talent. Part Lex Luthor, part Goldfinger, part Nicholson-Joker, Moore reveals in the more lavish, avuncular side of villainy with the aplomb and poise you would expect and steals the film. Strong and Berry make for a surprisingly winning duo and it’s a shame we don’t see more of that, whilst Jeff Bridges does what Jeff Bridges does – cool, mesmeric, class. We could have done with more.
There’s plenty to admire about Kingsman: The Golden Circle and many will get countless kicks out of all the mayhem and nonsense but you can’t help but feel there was much, much more to bring to the table than what’s on offer. A disappointment for sure.