Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Taron Egerton and Mark Strong team up with their American counterparts after an enemy launches an attack on the Kingsman organisation.
Kingsman: The Secret Service was a surprise smash hit in 2015, so it was no surprise that director Matthew Vaughn decided to come back for another spin with the Kingsman agents, a group of British gentleman spies.
In the Golden Circle, agents Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) are in serious need of help after a missile attack wipes out their headquarters, so they look to their American equivalent Statesman, which is led by Champ (Jeff Bridges) and includes agents Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Ginger (Halle Berry).
They must join forces to take down Poppy (Julianne Moore), the head of a drug cartel, who has a monopoly on the drug trade worldwide.
She puts millions of lives in danger by infecting all her customers so they come out in a blue rash, which will eventually kill them.
She demands the U.S. President legalise drugs in exchange for the antidote, which the agents try to track down.
What made the 2015 movie such a success was that it was unexpected and broke conventions in such a refreshing way, so it would be impossible for a sequel to replicate that and be as surprising. So it's not a big shocker that the follow-up fails to be as good as the original.
The first film had a strong story and excellent character relationships, whereas this is a bit more scattershot.
There are too many cast members now, so there isn't much room for character development, and there are too many things going on so the story is convoluted and confusing.
It just becomes a bit of an over-long mess, lacking the cohesion and flow of the previous outing.
However, it still delivers on the comedy factor and is incredibly funny.
Admittedly, it does try very hard and there seemed to be an overreliance on swearing for laughs but it worked most of the time.
There are still plenty of slick and speedy action sequences for fans to feast their eyes on and while they do look very cool, nothing will surpass Colin Firth's earlier church massacre sequence.
Egerton and Firth are the only stars that get to deliver action, laughs and emotional moments, and they handle it all with ease.
Moore seemed to relish playing the villain and it was a joy to watch her being so bad, while Elton John steals every scene he's in as Poppy's concert performer.
He's in it far more than expected, and surprisingly more so than Tatum, Bridges and Berry, who get very little to do.
Kingsman is still an enjoyable, laugh-out-loud spy movie, but it felt like Vaughn tried to up the scale and take on too much and ended up losing some of what made the first film special.
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