Monday, October 02, 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Circle – vulgar follow-up in which country and western meets a laddish Bond

I watched the original Kingsman film on a plane, heading towards either Tel Aviv or Bahrain. On the low-res airline seat screen wearing cheap headphones it was an amusing way to pass a couple of hours.

Kingman is a private intelligence service disguised as a high-end Savile Row tailors. More secret, suave and sophisticated than the Bond franchise, and possibly even more stereotype-filled and culturally conservative. But definitely even less believable.

The quirky original movie has been rebooted – quite violently twenty five minutes into the film – and the umbrella-wielding militia are back on the streets in Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

This time they have joined forces with their ostentatious Kentucky cousins (wait for it, the ‘Statesman’ organisation) to face down Poppy, an aptly-named drug baroness with a taste for freshly butchered burgers and over-the-top automaton dogs with their engineering on the outside in a weird Pompidou-style of steam punk.

Poppy (played by Julianne Moore) runs The Golden Circle, a well equipped rival organisation that is blackmailing the world (well, the US president) in return for an antidote to a bad strain of drugs that is paralysing the world.

Young Eggsy was a new Kingsman recruit in the first film and Taron Egerton gets to take the lead role in this difficult second album. But also rebooted is Harry (the original agent Galahad played by Colin Firth) who is back from the dead with an eye-patch, amnesia and an elaborate high-tech explanation for his resurrection.

The best aspects of the look and feel of the first film are revived with a series of set piece fights, punctuated by changes of location and sponsorship opportunities, like the ‘revolutionary’ new Mont Blanc Skyway cable car which leads up to the Bond villain-esque snowy mountain top base. Umbrella combat is now joined by equally ludicrous lassoing.
“There’s no time for emotion in this scenario”

Sadly while they may be Kingsmen and Statesmen, they are hardly gentlemen. The regurgitation of ‘orifice’ humour and the intimate insertion of a tracking device causes two sets of relational problems: one between the audience and the vulgar laddish director Matthew Vaughn; and the other between Eggsy and his ‘princess’ (Hanna Alström) back in blighty.

Merlin the gadget man (Mark Strong) steps out into the field to display his sartorially elegant selflessness and belt out a better tune than Elton John (who seems to have been kidnapped and forced to appear in this movie and abandon whatever gravitas he had left).

Double agents, drones, a cure for constipation (there are more butt jokes than female characters with backstory), pug dogs, and a final fight scene that is more barndance than brawl. Yee-haw.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is what happens when country and western meets Bond. You’ll leave the cinema whistling Take Me Home, Country Road, and it’ll be a good distraction from the flaccid and misogynist mess that you have sat through for 141 minutes. Male characters die in remarkable ways: women fall dead or are blown up by remote men.

There’s a chance to make Halle Berry’s Ginger Ale character into a lead if those in charge care enough about their creation to do a handbrake turn and switch direction away from the current unsophisticated nonsense and rectal gags.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle continues to be screened in lots of cinemas.

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