by Rob DiCristino and Adam Riske
Rob: Welcome to Reserved Seating. I’m Rob DiCristino.
Adam: And I’m Adam Riske.
Rob: The world’s best-dressed spy agency is back in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. One year after the events of The Secret Service, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) has settled into life as Agent Galahad (and into a relationship with Hanna Alström as Crown Princess Tilde of Sweden), working closely alongside tech guy Merlin (Mark Strong) and Roxy/Agent Lancelot (Sophie Crookson). But the shit starts a-brewin’ when eccentric drug kingpin Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) takes out Kingsman HQ as part of a dastardly scheme to poison millions of recreational drug users around the world. Adams hopes that by forcing the president of the United States to legalize drugs in exchange for an antidote, she can drive up her wholesale price and achieve the global fame she’s sought her whole life. Regrouping, the remaining Kingsman join forces with Statesman, their American cousins. Champagne (Jeff Bridges), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), Ginger (Halle Berry), and Tequila (Channing Tatum) give the Brits the tools and muscle they need to take down Adams’ plot for good. Not only that, but they’ve got a secret up their sleeves: Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is alive, though amnesic, and in their care.
the first Kingsman, but this sequel is the type of movie the cast & crew will apologize when they try to get people to care about a third entry. They’ll say how they learned from all the mistakes of the sequel (too much CGI, too big, too many subplots and side characters, too long) and are going back to the basics of what made the original work. I didn’t hate Kingsman: The Golden Circle entirely, but it’s a slog and there are so many things in this movie that are big f-yous to the fans of the original, including (only mentioning this one and not others because it’s been spoiled in the ads) that Colin Firth’s character is not dead (which makes his demise in the first irrelevant and not powerful at all) and has amnesia. Has amnesia ever worked in a movie? Ever? What did you think of the movie, Rob?
Rob: I’m in essentially the same boat. I like The Secret Service, but The Golden Circle is one of those sequels that doubles down on what audiences seemed to like from the original (stylized violence, mean-spirited humor, etc.) to such an extent that loses the novelty. The opening sequence in the car had so much of that CGI-augmented-jump-cutty-snap-zoom fight stuff that it stopped being interesting. It reminded me of the Burly Brawl from The Matrix Reloaded and really spelled trouble for the rest of the movie.
The Man with the Golden Gun. I’ve seen that comparison made in other places, that this is essentially the Die Another Day to the first film’s Goldfinger, and that’s about right. It’s over-the-top, silly, and convoluted. I get why it thinks it needs to be this way, but it kind of spoiled a lot of my goodwill toward the first film and killed my interest in a third.
Adam: I’m glad you mentioned that opening action sequence, because that was when I started to have my doubts about the movie. It is so false looking that I just sat there wanting it to be over. I think the Burly Brawl looked better than the car chase in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. If we’re doing Bond comparisons, I would say this is The World is Not Enough if it were made by the people behind Fox’s Married…with Children. It has that pitch. So much of the humor of the movie is already self-impressed so it alienated me and I really had a problem with how the movie treats the character of Roxy. She has been done such dirt in this series. She is the most qualified recruit in Kingsman: The Secret Service and then they shoot her to the moon to sideline her for the climax of that film; here she’s even more offensively pushed aside so this can be a boys adventure.
The Fate of the Furious). I wish her character wasn’t so underwritten, but some of the stuff with her hideout in the first act was interesting. I also thought Mark Strong was likable and sort of emerged as the series' MVP by the end of this second feature. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know that they mishandle his character as well. I also had a real problem with the ugliness of this movie. It feels very retrograde and old-fashioned in a bad way. The first movie certainly had moments of that, but the idea had a novelty and sense of fun that allowed me to ignore those attitudes somewhat (for better or probably worse). I’m not sure if they’re more prevalent in the sequel; I’m just more aware of that stuff or I’m honed in on it because the movie didn’t work for me. Maybe it’s all three. I’m done with this franchise. I’ve seen what I need to see.
Rob: Poor, poor Roxy. That they felt the need to bring Colin Firth back (to do nothing anyone else couldn’t have) and short-change other memorable characters is such garbage. Even Merlin, while in the movie a lot, doesn’t actually have that much to do that is unique to his skill set. I would have gladly traded the Harry storyline for more time with Roxy or the Statesman team. It would have been nice to see the stuffy British spies have to adjust to the free-spirited, cocky Americans in their time of need. But aside from Pascal and Berry, they’re essentially relegated to cameos. I agree that Julianne Moore knows what movie she’s in and is having fun, but she plays the Bond villain thing straighter than Samuel L. Jackson did in the first film, which is where I started to lose the thread in terms of affectionate parody. That’s the kind of thing The Secret Service handled better. It was good about being the thing and also deconstructing the thing. This movie is just...the thing, in the worst ways. It’s loud and stupid. Remember the “Freebird” fight scene? Let’s do that six more times! How about that finger condom bit? Wasn’t that clever? We get to CGI the inside of a vagina! I get that we’re sending-up Bond, but at a certain point, we’re really not. We’re just being assholes. This movie is an asshole.
Adam: This movie makes me want to take a shower. It’s dressed in tailored suits but with the mind of someone who wears a dirty undershirt outside. I am sort of baffled by Matthew Vaughn as a filmmaker. I didn’t love Layer Cake (though I may just need to give it a second chance), but I like Stardust, X-Men: First Class, etc. In the Kingsman movies and in Kick-Ass, he gets credit for being subversive and satirical, but then he has so many moments where he seems to be reveling in the thing he’s commenting on where I’m not sure he was ever doing anything but reveling in that thing. Or, at the very least, he’s confused. Like he wants to be above the ugliness morally but his id is showing that he is also turned on by all of it. It’s very weird.
That vagina tracker implant scene was just odd and went on forever. Every scene in this movie feels like it goes on forever. Also, why are there so many supporting characters in this? Besides the Kingsman, the Statesman, the villain, and the princess, we also have the President of the United States and his beleaguered staff, Eggsy’s friends, the King and Queen of Sweden...ugh! Another aspect that actively annoyed me during The Golden Circle is the political game they’re playing. Remember when it used to just be that Fox News was on as the news stand-in in a Fox movie and you were like “oh, ok,” but now it has so much baggage to it and they keep going back to these fair and balanced news reports by Fox News (which, not even being political, anyone who has seen Fox News knows is not accurate...I should add CNN and MSNBC are also agenda-driven and sensationalistic) that are also pro-drug and anti-President??? It’s like, “WTF am I watching?” Those moments made me feel like I was through the looking glass’s looking glass. Also, the Elton John cameo. Stop, movie, stop. It’s not as funny as you think it is. The more I think about Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the more I dislike it. It’s like if a “30 Ways to be a Man” article in Maxim Magazine came to life, you followed the advice and then you wound up in prison for a DUI and felony assault. This movie feels like a giant DUI.
Adam: Dammit, I blocked out the Transformers dogs. Now I have to remember there’s two of them and a robot arm that hacks the Kingsman database. I just vomited on my laptop. I used to see all the movies. I hope you all will forgive me if I stop doing that. I can’t take much more of this shit. This movie feels like it was made to fill in as the fourth movie in an “Asshole Spies” DVD 4-Pack with the first Kingsman and both entries in the Agent Cody Banks series. Mark Off for Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
Rob: Mark Off from me, as well. Kingsman 3 has been downgraded from a theatrical trip to a Redbox pickup.
Adam: I should have stayed home and watched First Kill. Until next time…
Rob: These seats are reserved.