Colin Firth is, inexplicably, back in one of the worst films of the year20TH CENTURY FOX

If Kingsman: The Secret Service was a comedic parody of classic James Bond films, The Golden Circle is an unapologetic burlesque of its predecessor. Where the former poked fun at the Bond franchise’s penchant for exquisite suits and martinis, spy gadgets, and sexist tendencies, its sequel appears to be satirising its former self. Blowing the excesses of the first film out of proportion, the second Kingsman instalment is louder, sillier, and even more reality-defying, crossing the line from being delightfully silly to laughably absurd.

“By failing to put a fresh spin on old ideas, The Golden Circle manages to turn the finer points of the first film into flaws.”

One of the many problems with The Golden Circle is its overzealous and flailing attempt to reenact the kinetic atmosphere of the first film. Uncanny and inventive as they are, the gadgets become less appealing when they are exploited to execute the film’s dei ex machina; the most notable being a highly questionable invention that brings Colin Firth’s Harry Hart back to life. This is perhaps a neat microcosmic representation of the film’s undermining feature – physics-defying technology. Stunts and action scenes are fun in an escapist sense when deployed in small doses, but when permeated throughout, their heavy-handedness becomes alarmingly off-putting.

Likewise, occasional ‘laddish’, roguish humour is a clever way of paying homage to our hero, Eggsy, and his humble roots, but when overdone it slips into the realm of crass insensitivity. The same could be said of Matthew Vaughn’s choice of villain – motive-wise, Julianne Moore’s sadistic, 1950s-obsessed drug dealer is not much different from Samuel L. Jackson’s planet-loving megalomaniac: both see themselves as pioneers of the greater good. But while the latter’s plans were convincing, Moore's character has an overly simplistic backstory, a shoddy explanation for her scheme and an excessively saccharine persona that exacerbates the film's cartoon-like quality. By failing to put a fresh spin on old ideas, The Golden Circle manages to turn the finer points of the first film into flaws.

Firth’s acting adds gravitas to the film, mildly buffers the incredulity of his return, and provides a degree of much-needed character development, not only that of Hart but also of Taron Egerton’s Eggsy, who relies on his tutor to demonstrate his growth since The Secret Service. Nevertheless, Firth’s return necessitates the invention of a gadget that effectively eliminates any sense of danger, robbing the audience of any emotional investment.


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Despite the backlash created by the notorious close of The Secret Service (involving a certain royal derrière), Vaughn unabashedly reuses even cruder anatomical jokes. Disappointingly, this is where The Golden Circle fails most miserably and inexcusably; notwithstanding the prequel’s failed attempt to satirise the Bond franchise’s treatment of female characters, The Golden Circle unquestionably succumbs to the same misogynistic pitfall of generating laughs at the expense of a woman’s body.

Is there then a saving grace for The Golden Circle? What the film lacks in coherence and wit, it makes up for in its self-awareness and ability to consciously revel in its silliness. By not taking itself too seriously, it invites the audience not to analyse its cinematic qualities through fact-based lenses, but to let go of all presumptions and enjoy the film as it is. For what it is worth, the action scenes form the highlights, with the slow-motion sequences giving the impression of a ritualistic choreography that befits the overall comedic vibe of the film. If one lowers one’s expectations and prepares for 141-minutes of mindless fun and cringe-worthy humour, then perhaps Kingsman: The Golden Circle is not as bad as it seems after all

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