Spy action comedy sequel is wild with double the excitement
The Golden Circle is a fantastic improvement on the first movie, which is saying a lot.
You could be forgiven for making the mistake that you'd accidentally stumbled onto an unreleased James Bond movie.
Exotic location, check. Evil laboratory, check. Formidable henchman, check. Overwhelming odds, check.
All that's left to see is a half-awake Daniel Craig sneaking around being a nuisance to elaborate paper-thin villain schemes, but you never get that.
What you get instead is a just-as-stylish Eggsy (Taron Egerton) tricking his way into being a nuisance to elaborate paper-thin villain schemes.
At this point of the movie, there's no doubt left in the audience that Kingsman is a terrific entertaining action set piece.
However, what the audience does not realise is that the feeling is about to incredibly skyrocket even more.
When Kingsman: The Secret Service was released in 2014, it was a near-faultless action comedy that could self-consciously play around with spy movie tropes and poke fun at itself.
If there is anything to be said about The Golden Circle, it is that it's a fantastic improvement on its predecessor, and that's saying a lot because it was sensational as well.
With Secret Service creating what is more or less an origin story, The Golden Circle has a solid foundation to build on to be able to spawn something that is simply too stunning to appropriately describe in ordinary words.
Egerton returns to play 007-lite Eggsy, the once unrefined street kid that has been polished into shape by veteran spy, Galahad (Colin Firth) who was killed in Secret Service.
The movie picks up with Eggsy now a more stylish gentleman of the secret agency, dating his controversial anal Swedish conquest Princess Tilde (Hanna Alström).
After an attempt on his life in the opening scenes serves up a taste of the fanciful action sequences the movie has in store, Eggsy's life soon takes a bit of a downturn.
The bombing of the Kingsman headquarters and agents by a ruthless crime boss forces Eggsy to take a trip with his trainer Merlin (Mark Strong) to the United States of America to join forces with an ally, the Statesman.
The protagonists have to deal with vicious psychopath, Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), the criminal head of The Golden Circle who deals in drugs and is exhausted by its criminalisation that has forced her into hiding.
Carrying out her murderous whims is failed Kingsman recruit, Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft) who is an obvious physical ripoff of the Winter Soldier from the Captain America movies.
With Poppy set to bring the world to its knees by crude means, it is up to Eggsy to save the day while he deals with relationship troubles at the same time.
The Kingsman team's matchup with the Statesman introduces the audience to a new band of characters working for the American secret agency that trades in alcohol as a front.
With Tequila (Channing Tatum), Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), Eggsy must race against the clock to save the world for the second time.
The action sequences in The Golden Circle are not just superbly on par with those of the first movie, they're fancier and louder, and run at breathtaking pace.
There are quite a lot of them to pick from too, with director Matthew Vaughn spoiling the audience with a barrage of action scenes that thrill in a lighthearted manner and still have drastic effects on the direction of the plot, and the world.
Despite the excitement of these electric scenes, the soul of the movie rests squarely on the performances of the characters.
Best known for playing Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones and Javier Peña in the Netflix series Narcos, Pedro Pascal is one of the most delightful characters to watch, with his Wonder Woman-like lasso weapon being a star attraction.
Channing Tatum's screen time is limited, but he makes the most use of his presence in the time that he got, same as Halle Berry who has her own little plot thread running underneath.
The same thing can be said for Bruce Greenwood who plays a notably familiar US President who brings a lot of heart to his performance that it's hard to not laugh at every single line that spills out of his mouth.
Elton John's intoxicating appearance, playing himself, is the perfect tonic on the movie's roster of remarkable characters.
To the movie's credit, Vaughn sticks to what worked well in Secret Service and mixes it up a little into a wicked cocktail that gets the audience's blood amped.
Even Poppy's evil techniques are not so different from the ones employed by Samuel L. Jackson's Richmond Valentine in the first movie.
This is to say the movie retains the lustfulness for brazen violence and sometimes crossing uncomfortable lines that makes the audience cringe for a second.
Despite the movie's cheery tone that draws the audience into a state of constant mirth, it still manages to strike a chord with a character's unexpected death.
This moment is deeply poignant more than it probably should have been with the help of the music score that's excellent throughout the duration of the movie.
There is hardly a perfect movie, but it's almost impossible to find a fault with The Golden Circle; at least not a fault that could ruin the overall experience anyway.
After the dust settles on the chaos of the movie's palpitating final showdown, Eggsy's life is back to somewhat happy, but it's hard to not wish that his happiness turns sour again so he can get back out on the field and serve up more insanity.
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