Oxfords, not brogues meets Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) in the rousing sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Director/writer Matthew Vaughn recaptures the humor and over the top action that made the original such a hit. It's a zany, save the world adventure akin to a seventies Bond flick on acid. Strong performances from the star studded ensemble cast sell the madcap plot. Julianne Moore is the standout as the diabolical villainess. She is certainly a memorable baddie. Kingsman 2 does run long at two hours and twenty minutes. There's a smidge more melodrama than expected, but it's a minor detraction from the film's high entertainment value.
The story picks up with Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Princess Tilde (Hanna Alstrom) taking their relationship to the next level. His job as a secret agent seems like peanuts compared to meeting her Swedish royalty parents. Eggsy's domestic bliss is interrupted by an attack that decimates Kingsman. As Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) struggle to respond, a clue from the beginning of Kingsman points the way. They learn that help lies across the pond, in Kentucky of all places. Time becomes a crucial factor as their evil adversary, The Golden Circle, reveals its sinister plan to the world.
Kingsman 2 has several subplots that are almost equal to the main story. No spoilers here, but I'll just go a tad into the one I found the most interesting and unexpected; the romance. It's a pleasant surprise how much time Matthew Vaughn spends on Eggsy and Tilde. Who would have thought that the buggered princess and urchin turned agent had legs? Eggsy is a world saving bad-ass that adores his girlfriend. It's a flip on the no connections life of an agent. A particular situation with Eggsy and Tilde will have you howling with laughter. The Swedish princess plays a big part in this film.
The Kingsmen interacting with their American counterparts is downright hilarious. The whiskey drinking, cowboy hat wearing, chaw chewers, are a great contrast to their refined cousins. The "suited and booted" tag line is an apt description for the antics. The introduction of the new characters lays solid groundwork for future films. Think of how integral the character of Felix Lighter and the CIA are to the Bond franchise. The Statesmen fill that role, but in a much funnier and ass-kicking way.
Julianne Moore is deliciously evil. Imagine if her Far From Heaven character was transformed into an insane super villain. Her fifties housewife look and demeanor is a welcome change to the macho nonsense we usually get in films like this. I won't reveal what The Golden Circle is all about, but it's pretty interesting. Matthew Vaughn offers a different take on an old problem. The characters, much like real people in the real world, see this problem in different lights. Kingsman 2 gets strangely philosophical in the homestretch.
The film drags at points. There is a mountain of dialogue between the characters. It is excessive. I respect that Matthew Vaughn wants to go deep in establishing rapport. This is especially the case with an important returning ally. Some of these scenes don't work. There's just too much ham on the sandwich. A slight edit could have reduced some of the soap opera moments.
The original must be seen to appreciate and understand the sequel. Golden Circle wouldn't make a lick of sense otherwise. If you liked the first film, then you will unequivocally be happy here. It's a fun, action-packed sequel, filled with racy humor. My last bit of acclaim is saved for Taron Egerton. As Eggsy, he is the bedrock of Kingsman. Eggerton can belt out hits in Sing, warm our hearts as Eddie the Eagle, and pummel bad guys here in a crushed, red velvet blazer. The guy is a true talent. 20th Century Fox has the star, director, and new franchise to bank on.