Sometimes we have to see our heroes fall. We have to see them picking through the rubble of what they’ve lost. There’s not much left of the Kingsman following the events of Kingsman: Secret Service (2014). There’s just enough of everything to carry on, as the British are wont to do. Eggsy (Taron Egerton) has a relationship, and Roxy (Sophie Cookson) and Arthur ( Michael Gambon) try their best to hold the organization together. A new villain on the scene using stolen knowledge makes everything harder, and before long Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) must travel to America to join forces with The Statesman, the American counterpart to The Kingsman. The Kingsman are named after the Knights Templar, The Statesman (based in a Kentucky distillery) are named after booze – Champagne (Jeff Bridges) – Champ if you have any sense, Tequila (Channing Tatum), and a Smokey and the Bandit-era Burt Reynolds look-alike, Whiskey (Pedro Pascal). Merlin’s (Mark Strong) counterpart is Ginger Ale (Halle Berry) and like all women characters in these action pictures, she’s regulated to the supporting IT roles manning keyboards and holding clipboards. She never really has enough to do.
Where The Kingsman have a humble cover as posh bespoke tailors, The Statesmen are as American as it gets. Everything is bigger and flashier, with electrified lassos and Colt Single Action Army ‘Artillery’ model revolvers. There’s nothing wrong with their approach, it’s just different and loud. They still have the same goals, right?.
There’s a major spoiler seen in every trailer, so there’s no getting around the fact that Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is back – sort of, but like The Kingsman, he’s broken and nearly useless. Also, like the Kingsman, he needs to pick up the pieces and find his place in the world again, He must relearn his skills and become the integral member his team needs
Our villainess is Poppy (Julianne Moore), a psychotic drug lord lamenting her exile in a self-styled Columbian paradise. Like Samuel L Jackson in the previous Kingsman, her end-game of world domination is as altruistic as it is demented. She wants to end the war on drugs by making them legal and taxable. She does this by holding hostage the addicts she’s created with a deadly retro-virus manufactured in the drugs she sells. It’s up to the Kindgamsn and the Statesman to save their colleagues and loved ones, as well as the world.
What sets THE KINGSMEN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE apart from Bond and Mission Impossible films is the level of over the top humor and action. The movie is tongue in cheek and very funny, both with sight gags and bon mots. John Wick (2014) and John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) have a frenetic energy giving them a gritty realism set in cities like Rome and New York. THE KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE relies on gentlemanly, nearly pastoral settings like Saville Row in Westminster, and sprawling Bourbon Country in Kentucky. The spy game is not without manners and decorum, be it Southern charm or British etiquette, as we see an American take on the English proverb “manners maketh man.”
This isn’t a movie to be taken seriously, so everything over the top is exactly how it should be. It’s bonkers and bananas, sliding right along that edge of disbelief without teetering over the edge. It’s is ridiculous fun and despite some dragging (141 minutes is loooong) and a few action sequences that could have been a little tighter, I can’t think of a better way to take in something fun and exciting before you walk into your fifth screening of IT (2017). At our packed screening, we cheered and laughed and clapped and walked out feeling pretty fine.
If you’re curious, you can for reals be fitted for a suit at the inspiration for Kingman, Huntsman on Savile Row in Westminster and when Stateside, sip on Old Forester’s Statesman Bourbon (95 Proof). It’s like being in a world of international intrigue without being shot in the eye.
KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE (2017) Is Rated R for swears, violence, super brief sexy times (no nudity), guns and headshots and Elton John chewing scenery like a champ.