Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 9/27/17
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Sophie Cookson, Elton John

The impeachment film we've all been longing to see!

International drug lord Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) taints the global supply of recreational drugs with a deadly disease and demands the governments of the world to legalize her products in exchange for the antidote. She also hacks into Kingsman's personnel files and wipes out their entire organization in a single blow. Only Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) survive, and they ultimately find themselves in the company of an American intelligence agency called Statesman. Harry Hart (Colin Firth) miraculously survived his fatal injury from the first film and joins Eggsy and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) in a desperate attempt to find the antidote and put Poppy out of business before millions of people die.

I never bothered seeing the original "Kingsman" movie because the trailers looked so horrible, but I may want to check it out just to see more of Sophie Cookson. She definitely stood out in this film as a character of interest, but her time was cut tragically short. Taron Egerton is quite charming as Eggsy, and Julianne Moore makes a delightfully effervescent villain. Pedro Pascal does his best Burt Reynolds impersonation, while data analyst Halle Berry is woefully underutilized. Elton John has an extended cameo as a celebrity hostage, who swears a lot and uses kung fu to escape his captors. That's probably the film's most bizarre and surreal moment.

The film suffers most during the moments when Eggsy isn't working on a mission, and the pacing slows to a crawl whenever he's interacting with friends, family, and lovers. The story also goes off the rails a bit with some odd and tasteless choices, but the scathing social commentary levied against Donald Trump is utterly brilliant. In a way, he's the whole reason the film exists in the first place.

While the story and dialog can be tedious, where the film excels is in its outrageous action set pieces, which are both thrilling and visually overwhelming. The fight choreography is very graceful and fluid, and features lots of flashy leg movements. The execution is fast and precise, and although the camera does a good job of keeping up with the action, quick cuts occasionally spoil the follow-through. On the flip side, the film's climactic fight scene is seemingly one long take that's physically exhausting to watch. However, I'm certain a lot of digital trickery was involved to achieve such remarkably unbelievable results. The film goes way over the top in nearly every regard, and despite hitting a few sour notes, I found it thoroughly entertaining. It will be interesting to see if a third film gets made and where it will go.