Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Review by Adam Woodward @AWLies

Directed by

Matthew Vaughn

Starring

Channing Tatum Colin Firth Taron Egerton

Anticipation.

The first film had a certain devil-may-care charm.

Enjoyment.

More covert conservatism from Vaughn and co.

In Retrospect.

Bloated, artistically impotent and utterly bereft of ideas.

Matthew Vaughn’s disastrous spy spoofing sequel is the film Brexit Britain (probably) deserves.

When Kingsman: The Secret Service was released in 2015, Prime Minister David Cameron was readying himself for a general election most media commentators and pollsters expected him to lose. The film’s massive box office success and Cameron’s emphatic re-election are unrelated in the wider scheme of things, but when viewed together they reveal something telling about which side Britain’s bread was buttered back then.

Flash forward to today and, having missed the final flaccid thrusts of Cameronism, it seems entirely fitting that a new Kingsman film should arrive at a time when Theresa May’s government is going through a messy pulling out process. The Golden Circle does not directly address the issue of Brexit – that’s been left to the not-so-subtly titled Kingsman comic, ‘The Big Exit’, published this summer – but there are certain similarities between this film and the current state of UK politics. Namely, the strange, unshakable feeling that everything and nothing has changed – that the British public is getting exactly what it asked for, which is not necessarily what it wants.

This is an important comparison, not least because the ultra-conservative politics – the implicit endorsement of the aristocracy as the de facto custodians of the masses – and rampant product placement present in both Kingsman films belies the notion that they are in some way satirising the ruling elite. Indeed, The Golden Circle is a film high on the fumes of its own toxic brand, a backward-looking boys’ fantasy in thrall to the establishment that has absolutely nothing to say about the roles class, consumerism, nationalism and sex play within our society. It’s a glib and puerile throwback in more ways than its makers intended.

With tongues set firmly in cheek, director Matthew Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman once again set about ostensibly subverting various spy movie tropes while simultaneously validating James Bond’s post-Bourne reinvention as a serious, decidedly modern double agent. And once again the pair dial comic book writer Mark Millar’s more juvenile and misogynistic tendencies all the way up, daring us to take offence as they replace wink-wink double entendre with blunt-force banter.

Yet where The Secret Service was, at the very least, superficially entertaining as an audacious, unapologetically brash exercise in postmodern genre filmmaking, The Golden Circle is surprisingly tame by comparison. Its overlong plot sees Eggsy (Taron Egerton) attempt to save the lives of millions of people who have been infected with a mysterious acute illness, including his sodomy-loving Swedish squeeze Princess Tilde (Hanna Alström). Ironically enough, the film itself appears to have come down with a nasty case of sequelitis, with a glut of additional characters – Channing Tatum’s whiskey-slugging cowboy being the worst of a very weak bunch – gadgets and subplots failing to provide the required antidote. The likelihood of a third film at this point seems a dead cert.

Published 19 Sep 2017

Tags: Channing Tatum Colin Firth Jane Goldman Matthew Vaughn Taron Egerton

Anticipation.

The first film had a certain devil-may-care charm.

Enjoyment.

More covert conservatism from Vaughn and co.

In Retrospect.

Bloated, artistically impotent and utterly bereft of ideas.

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