When reviewing movies, there’s one particular quality, or trait, that can wildly skew its final score. And that quality is prominently displayed in the sequel to 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service.
2017’s The Golden Circle wastes zero time with character introductions and throws viewers right into the thick of the action from the opening scene. The film carries itself with an entitled sense of swagger—and it’s well-deserved, coming from the stylish, James Bond homage that was its predecessor. What it lacks, however, is the same spirit that made the original so endearing. While the original’s (literal) trials and tribulations acted as a direct means of character arc and development, it recognized that many new franchises benefit from that type of guidance. The Golden Circle, for all of its high-flying antics, often feels like an overabundance of fists and bullets.
What the film does well, though, it does spectacularly. Fights are mash-up of close-quartered chaos, and open-field warzones. The Golden Circle often tosses aside style in favor of brute force, which reflects well in terms of its introduction to Statesman—the U.S. counterpart.
The Golden Circle struggles most in its pacing. Too often does it pool its resources into creating the most frenetic action sequences, while lagging behind on character interactions. Both Taron Egerton and Colin Firth reprise their roles as Eggsy and Harry, yet they feel out-of-place at times. By the end of The Secret Service, the relationships built provided a sense of comfort—and instead of building upon that in The Golden Circle they, in a way, press the reset button that plunges their progress back to zero.
Alongside them are a myriad of big-name actors that act more as drivers for ticket sales, rather than an uptick in quality. Pedro Pascal is the main standout of the cast, and his reimagining of the first film’s bar fight scene is a superb nod at the previous film with a modern twist. His cowboy quips are a welcomed addition, and his backstory is revealed in surprising fashion. Halle Berry, Channing Tatum, Julianne Moore and Mark Strong do well with what they’re given—problem being that there’s not much to be had. Much like an explosion, they flash brilliantly, but only just briefly. Bonus points to Mark Strong though, since his performance easily solidifies himself as the most beloved supporting actor that the movie has to offer. His progression from the gadget-guy to field agent is joyful and bittersweet.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle feels like a demo reel. That being said, it’s a very entertaining one. It’s comprised largely with more fists than feelings, and the end result suffers from it—but that in no way indicates that I had a bad time. In fact, I may have walked away having a better time. Circling (see what I did there) back to the opening—the film is a ruckus. When action set pieces click, it becomes a symphony of mayhem. I had an amazingly enjoyable experience, but the film could’ve been so much more than just that. While a film’s overall quality largely dictates its score, the amount of fun it garners can’t be ignored.
Perhaps my most conflicted score yet?
1-2: Horrendous, wouldn’t recommend watching even if free of charge.
3-4: Potentially has some good ideas, but overall still lackluster.
5-6: Average, a decently good time; go see it if it's free.
7-8: A solid recommendation, and well-rounded film; warrants a purchase after home release.
9: No glaring flaws; deserves to be watched multiple times.
10: Masterful, must-see; filmmaking at its finest.