‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ carries license to overkill

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“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is the much-anticipated sequel to the quirky spy comedy released two years ago. In some ways, it is like the Canyon Lake front gate. We didn’t necessarily need another one, but still looked forward to the new and improved model. After all the hoopla and fabrication, the best reaction we can muster for either is, “meh”.

Loosely based on the Marvel Icon comic book series, we wanted to like this movie in the worst possible way and that’s pretty much what happened. Fortunately, it doesn’t try to be James Bond or Jason Bourne. It is an action spy thriller for young adults performed mostly tongue in cheek. When it sticks to that formula, as it did in the original, it is quite entertaining. When it veers off, as this sequel often does, it narrows its audience.

Director Michael Vaughn, who co-wrote with Jane Goodman, returns with rising star Taron Egerton as rookie agent Eggsy, Colin Firth as mentor Harry Hart and Mark Strong as Merlin. The British cast adds Americans Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum and Halle Berry. With five Oscar winners, this is a “can’t miss” formula, right? Not necessarily.

The adventure begins in the first few minutes. Former street bum Eggsy is now the suave and debonair agent Galahad. He is immediately engaged in a round of fisticuffs, a gun battle and thrilling car chase through the streets of London. The exciting and well-choreographed skirmish sets the stage for another engaging feature.

We’re then introduced to Poppy (Moore), CEO of The Golden Circle, which has secured power over the world drug cartels. Living in a 50’s style diner in the midst of a remote jungle, Poppy is presented as eccentric and diabolical, but comes across as silly and inane. Her underworld henchmen destroy the Kingsman headquarters and hold the world hostage by extorting the President of the United States (Bruce Greenwood).

As Eggsy and Merlin are the only remaining Kingsman, clues lead them to an allied spy organization across the pond, in “Kentucky, USA,” Yee-Haw! Wearing Stetsons and talking in a slow drawl, the group is called The Statesman, dating back to the day The Kingsman was founded. Both groups are keen on Bond-style gadgets.

Give credit to director Vaughn for the seemingly endless number of high-quality CGI set pieces, magnificent orchestrations and big named stars. However, even with the extended running time, the roles for the “A” list talent don’t offer quality, quantity or much of anything to work with for these thespians. Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry mail it in, as they share a couple dozen lines amongst the three of them.

Even an appearance by legendary performer Elton John is humiliating and disgusting. With only about a dozen lines, ten of them are simply, “F@#% You!” Is that what the writers think of this iconic megastar? And, why did he agree to do it? The overly vulgar script is written at a 13-year-old level, filled with “F-Bombs” in place of actual dialog.

Eggsy and Harry (only “mostly” dead) are a charismatic team with great chemistry. Eventually, they perform their epic action sequences, but after drudging through an hour of wasted space in the middle third of the movie, it almost felt rote and mechanical. Sure, Kingsman fan-boys will still enjoy this flick, but there is room for a much wider audience.

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is a very long 141 minutes and rated R for sequences of strong violence, drug content, language and sexual material. Gadgets for gadgets sake prove tedious. Stars are delightful, but they need something to do. Profanity and vulgarity still need storyline and dialog, so we were disappointed.

In fairness, this is an entertaining spy comedy with so much potential. We’re not sure why it is so needlessly directed at a narrow audience. One of the Southern Statesmen drawls, “I feel like a tornado in a trailer park.” So did we. However, when Poppy’s foe backed into the meat grinder, we wonder if she got a little behind in her orders.

Ron’s Rating: C Leigh’s Rating: D

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Ron & Leigh Martel