As a big fan of the first entry in the series, I felt right at home during the opening 10 minutes of “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” The next two hours, however, were all over the place.
Director Matthew Vaughn’s second foray into Mark Millar’s comic book world of secret agent tailors does some wacky things that, even in this over-the-top universe, seem way out of place. And that’s too bad, because there are some great pieces littered throughout that could’ve made a great movie.
Taron Egerton (“Eddie the Eagle,” “Sing”) reprises his role as Eggsy, the troubled youth turned secret agent that is all heart, and is great as the lead once again and Mark Strong (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “Sherlock Holmes”) is, as he seemed to be in the first, born to play Merlin, the Kingsman’s tech wizard.
I’d love to say the other half-dozen stars in the film were great but their screen time is so limited that it’s tough to say whether they were or not. Colin Firth, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry are there for nothing else but to put butts in seats and even Pedro Pascal is underused, although he gets the most time in front of the camera of all the supporting characters.
There is a scene just before the start of the third act between Egerton and Firth that was so well written and acted it left me wondering why they left Firth out of the film so damn much. His chemistry with Egerton is what made the first great and when their on screen together the movie hits its stride with both heartfelt and comedic moments.
But most of these moments — and I counted more than a handful of them — only hit if you’ve seen the first. I’m of the opinion that a sequel should be able to stand on its own. “The Golden Circle” doesn’t. Too many times, it relies too heavily on the audience having prior knowledge of what a character did in the first.
There are some solid action sequences that make this film enjoyable but none really stick. It also doesn’t help that the main baddie, Julianne Moore (“Crazy Stupid Love,” “The Big Lebowski”), feels like she’s in another movie and her henchman Edward Holcroft is forgettable.
If you liked the first, you’ll find some OK moments to hang onto. There will also be others that will leave you scratching your head, questioning why Vaughn thought that would be a good idea.
If you’re coming in fresh, turn your brain off, eat some popcorn and hope for the best.
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BOX OFFICE REVIEW
1. “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”: $39,023,010 (Week 1); Fox.
2. “It”: $29,757,494 (Week 3); Warner Bros. Total gross: $266,096,375.
3. “The LEGO Ninjago Movie”: $20,433,071 (Week 1); Warner Bros.
4. “American Assassin”: $6,255,617 (Week 2); Lionsgate. Total gross: $26,185,076.
5. “mother!”: $3,290,780 (Week 2); Paramount. Total gross: $13,459,798.
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