Kingsman: The Secret Service was a surprising success upon its release. Channelling the James Bond spoof mantra made famous by Austin Powers, it had a serious edge that cut through its very British style of comedy.
With an air of nostalgia, it grossed $414.4 million and turned out to be one of the biggest successes of 2015. Two years on and fans still talk about it with a smile on their face and an anticipation of what might we might see next in the franchise.
Once the sequel was announced, the big concern was whether Matthew Vaughn could replicate that same success. After all, the surprise factor of the first movie had been replaced with expectation and that can make things extremely tricky.
The answer: Pretty much.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle knows its formula well and it doesn’t change things up. Following on from its predecessor, it contains all of the tropes that the first defined itself upon.
Naturally, we open with a slick set-piece that plays out at breakneck speed. Containing some wonderful choreography it airs on the silly at times but that’s what makes Kingsman such a special movie. Before we move on with the narrative, we’re treated to some slow motion effects that Zack Snyder would be proud of but every second of action lends itself to the story to come.
The silliness doesn’t end as the movie moves seamlessly between each act but again, it’s interspersed with more gentle moments that make you yearn for a return to how things were. Even those moments have an air of comedy about them but they’re filmed in such a way that you feel a real draw towards the characters you’re watching.
As we progress, we meet our new villainess who does really well to channel the charming yet deranged character that Samuel L. Jackson portrayed in The Secret Service. Let’s be frank, having Julianne Moore in place once you’ve had Samuel L is like going from a Rolls Royce to a Ford but in Poppy, we have a sociopath that steals each scene she’s in.
Whilst they have those similarities, the super-villains are also quite different. So much so, you’d almost say that Poppy feels more dangerous than Valentine. Yes, really.
Movies such as this always need to be bigger and badder though so that doesn’t really come as a surprise. This doesn’t only apply to the villains either. The Golden Circle also feels much more of a global film too. Travelling the globe to places like Kentucky, Cambodia and Italy, we see snowy mountains in one breath and tropical jungles in another.
It really adds to the vastness of the universe Vaughn is trying to create and it works really well with the dynamic story that we’re being told.
Whilst there are some (naturally) amazingly funny moments from our normal cast, there’s one cameo that really steals the show.
Bordering on the slapstick, Vaughn just about stays the right side of the line and the result is a character that you don’t expect but one that adds a lot of laughter at the expense of himself.
All in all, Kingsman: The Golden Circle picks up where The Secret Service left off. It’s slick, fun, action packed and downright silly but that’s what we loved about the first one. Matthew Vaughn understood that and he’s delivered on the same formula.
4* - There's no Eggsy on our faces with this one!