Think of a film like The Hangover and then remember how its unfunny sequels actually made the first part seem less funny in retrospect.
Matthew Vaughn may have avoided directing an unnecessary sequel by opting not to sit behind the camera on Kick-Ass 2 in 2013, but here comes Kingsman: The Golden Circle, a second part to a film that many folks either saw and most likely forgot about or haven’t seen at all. The first installment, Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) was a tasteless send-up of James Bondian spy films, an ultra-violent but ultimately innocuous confection that crossed so many lines that it ended up feeling a little quaint when it was all said and done. Starring Colin Firth as a member of an ultra-secret British spy agency, Kingsman is very violent, but also very fun if you’re willing to check your morals at the door.
Two years later, Vaughn brings us Kingsman: The Golden Circle, a second installment that falls into the same traps that have doomed most sequels. We get many of the same jokes from the original and a longer running time crammed with more characters, something that knocks the luster off what made the first one feel at least somewhat vivacious and original. Think of a film like The Hangover and then remember how its unfunny sequels actually made the first part seem less funny in retrospect.
There is nothing here that can top the church scene from the first part. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, click here. Who would have ever thought they would see an actor like Firth taking on and killing an entire congregation of right-wing nuts? This time, we get a foul-mouthed Elton John in a film-stealing cameo, but otherwise, it’s just more of the same.
Returning to duty is Eggsy (Taron Egerton), our hero from last time, who must save the world from a nefarious plot involving Julianne Moore as a sinister drug lord. He is one of the surviving Kingsmen, the secret organization of gentlemen spies who keep England and the world safe. When Moore’s villain more or less wipes out his entire cadre of spies, Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) team up with the Statesmen, their American counterpart organization. While the Kingsmen use a tailor shop as a front, the Statesmen operate out of a whiskey distillery in Kentucky. This allows Channing Tatum, Halle Berry and Jeff Bridges the chance to do the typical bigger-is-best thing common to sequels, but none of those actors really have more than a glorified cameo.
So where does Firth play into all of this after his character was clearly executed by Samuel J. Jackson in the first part? All I will tell you is that it’s criminal that Vaughn and co-screenwriter Jane Goldman couldn’t think of anything better. Like the first installment, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a violent and sometimes funny burst of inanity. However, sequelitis lurks and those who do not take care can fall into its snares. Kingsman isn’t savvy enough to avoid these traps.