Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a spy action comedy film released in North America on September 22nd, 2017. It was directed and written by Matthew Vaugh and stars Taron Egerton (@TaronEgerton), Colin Firth and Channing Tatum (@channingtatum).
The first Kingsman movie caught me completely by surprise back in 2015, taking me on an unexpected, delightful romp through the biggest tropes of the spy genre. Matthew Vaughn wrote, directed and produced a tailored experience that startled me in the best ways possible. It wasn’t without its flaws, but with a diverse cast, a fun premise and amazing action sequences I was hooked right up to the unfortunately raunchy final scene. And while Vaughn is back to write, direct and produce the sequel it falls quite short of the lovable ridiculousness of the first.
God Save the Story
Kingsman: The Golden Circle brings the fluid action scenes that made the first film such a treat back in more zany and ridiculous ways. It opens strong, with a thrilling car chase through the crowded streets of London set to pumping rock music that had me hyped. I felt the punches in my chest and the backseat fistfight in the cramped cabbie was awesome. The way shots are sped up beyond real time make it really feel like a comic book brought to life and each ridiculous stunt had me going “oh no way.” These quick-paced, over-the-top action scenes are what I loved most about Kingsmen: The Golden Circle and definitely made some of the more cringe-y expositional scenes worth wading through.
The premise is simple enough: Kingsman is utterly obliterated and now Eggsy and Merlin must team up with Kingsman’s American counterpart Statesman. Together this sausage fest of a team must strangle, stab and seduce their way to the centre of an international drug organization set on holding the world ransom until the American president ends the war on drugs. But it’s that centre theme of the war on drugs where Kingsman does the most damage.
Boys will be Boys
With such a politically charged conflict, Kingsman: The Golden Circle tries to make a soft statement about the war on drugs, which it ultimately fumbles and lands on “yeah drugs are illegal, but some white people do them too so like, maybe they shouldn’t be?” When a film with an almost entirely white cast and a white director, writer and producer tries to take on an issue like the war on drugs, which statistically hurts non-white people disproportionately more than white people, it’s obviously in a much better place to completely mess it up. And Kingsman: The Golden Circle absolutely did, painting the war on drugs as a problem that hurts white people just as much as non-white, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
In addition, Kingsman: The Golden Circle carries some troubling sexist and homophobic points onto the big screen. A Kentucky man shouts out “f*ggot” to initiate a fight with the Kingsman, an entirely unnecessary line of dialogue that while yes there are homophobic dicks out there this is definitely not the word to be used by the straight writers on this film (See GLAAD guide to writing LGBTQ-inclusive scripts).
Secondly, there’s a whole section of the film where Eggsy and one of the Statesman need to place a tracker on a target. The only problem is that it has to be put into their bloodstream. So you think they just need to prick them with a needle quick, right? Wrong, the two guys have to try and seduce her to put the tracker inside her by fingering her… Because they’re men? I guess? I think my eyes rolled so hard the people next to me heard it. And as mentioned before, Kingsman: The Golden Circle really is a sausage fest, with only one woman working with the team to take down the drug ring, whose leader is the only other woman of note in the whole film.
With a racist carrying premise, little to no female involvement in the entire film besides to be fingered or blown up, Kingsman: The Golden Circle remains just a collection of cool action scenes peppered throughout an all-too-forgettable narrative of white people saving the world once again. That might seem a little harsh, but after the awesomeness of the first movie with a much more impactful story dismantling elitism and climate change deniers with a more diverse and interesting cast, it’s extremely disappointing that all a bigger budget and more time in development lead to is a soft flop of a narrative paired with the same action of the original film.