Combustible Celluloid
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With: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Pedro Pascal, Elton John, Bruce Greenwood, Emily Watson, Edward Holcroft, Hanna Alström, Sophie Cookson, Michael Gambon
Written by: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, based on comics by Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
MPAA Rating: R for sequences of strong violence, drug content, language throughout and some sexual material
Running Time: 141
Date: 09/22/2017

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Second Round

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This improved sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service contains just as much slick, inventive, crazy action and is just as much fun. It's also just as violent, but also shows far more empathy toward human loss.

In Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is attacked by a former trainee who manages to steal the agency's secrets. Soon, missiles appear out of nowhere and destroy all their hideouts, and most of the Kingsman agents as well. Only Eggsy, who was dining with his girlfriend Princess Tilde (Hanna Alstrom) and her parents, and Merlin (Mark Strong) survive.

A doomsday directive points them to the United States, Kentucky, and the stronghold of Statesman, whisky makers and the American branch of the same group of agents, led by Champagne, or "Champ" (Jeff Bridges). There, they learn that the evil Poppy (Julianne Moore), who controls all illegal drugs in the world, has set out to kill all her customers. Symptoms begin with a blue rash. Her demand is the end of the war on drugs, and if the U.S. President complies, she will release the antidote. But when Princess Tilde comes down with the blue rash, Eggsy knows he must save the world in order to save her.

Matthew Vaughn returns to the director's chair and co-writes the screenplay with Jane Goldman, and though their story is convoluted and slightly insane, it all more or less sticks together and follows a pleasing flow. It even manages a sly bit of political commentary on the "war on drugs." Set pieces, including a runaway gondola lift and Poppy's 1950s-inspired hideout, are outrageously cool.

Vaughn's direction is the opposite of Hollywood's usual shaky-cam junk; it's graceful and fluid, with dance-like movement in the heat of battle. In the previous movie, scenes of rampant deaths of dozens of people were played for laughs and entertainment, but in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, it carries a heavier weight.

There is now time to react and mourn, and it makes the characters more emotional and more appealing. Indeed, one of its most welcome themes is that life is more valuable if you have something to lose.

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