In 2014, Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service injected much-needed life and originality into the “Super-Spy” genre. Funny and enjoyable, but brutal when necessary with an intelligent use of social commentary on celebrity culture and the rich-poor divide, Kingsman became a box office success.  However, with sequels there is always the question of whether or not the cast can retain the magic of the first. Thankfully, Vaughn got it right again.

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” sees Taron Egerton return as Alex Rider cum James Bond mix ‘Eggsy’, now a fully fledged Kingsman agent, taking the place of his former mentor Harry (Colin Firth). However, the world he has now grown accustomed to is thrown into disarray following a deadly attack on his colleagues, that leaves him and his gadget man, ‘Merlin’ (Mark Strong) searching for answers and retribution. The pursuit of the mysterious Golden Circle brings about a story that has all the hallmarks that made the first film in the series a huge success. Tremendously well-shot action scenes accompany a story that is brutal, heartbreaking and hilarious in equal measure, with more than a few guest star surprises along the way and a soundtrack that is matched only by the extremely brutal and enthralling combat scenes in all of their glory.

Instead of riding the coattails of its predecessor, “The Golden Circle” builds upon its successes while limiting the failures. Vaughn does an excellent job of making sure the film does not take itself too seriously while encapsulating enough drama and emotion that audiences can’t help but care for the characters. Ignoring the potholes that other films in the genre fall prey to, Kingsman… does not shy away from the brutality of its fights or the hyperbole of its world, but instead revels in it. As a result, the plot has no “flow” issues and very little feels forced, which leads to an extremely enjoyable watch as you never pause to think about the ridiculousness of what you are witnessing. Instead, you simply enjoy it.

As fans of the series are more than aware, the biggest draw for Kingsman has been the action sequences. Well shot and extremely violent, the infamous Church scene (you know the one I’m talking about, and if you don’t… look it up. You’ve been missing out) from the first movie was actually removed from several cuts of the movies as it was deemed too over the top. Unbeknownst to the editors, this scene became a massive draw for the movie as a metaphor for the energy that drives both films. Absurdity is what the people demand, and Vaughn gives it in spades. However, it still feels fresh and original, and while the influences from the first movie are clear, they are not domineering but instead tastefully used, ensuring that fans get what they want but giving Kingsman… a sense of independence from the first in the series.

The only drawback comes from the guest appearances, which seems slightly wooden. While both Halle Berry and Pedro Pascal (Agents Ginger and Whiskey, respectively) serve functional, enjoyable and important roles, the addition of Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges seem wooden and disjointed, an attempt to draw in new fans with big names.Thankfully, they are given enough screen time to do anything harmful.

Overall, this is an extremely enjoyable sequel and a welcome addition to the series. The first 20 minutes of the film sees an exceptional opening sequence, a gloriously brutal follow-up scene (no spoilers .. but it involves cannibalism and haunting ’50s Americana theme) and a heart-wrenching spectacle.  A punchy, witty and interesting story, which is carried by an extremely competent cast and a fantastic soundtrack – featuring a unique cover of “Take Me Home, Country Roads” in a pivotal scene that will tug at the heartstrings. This movie is a must-see for fans and an excellent way for newcomers to fall in love. Book your tickets now!

Rating – 90%

Director – Matthew Vaughn

Cast – Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Juliane Moore, Elton John

Run Time – 2 Hours 21 Minutes

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