Kingsman  The Golden Circle
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Kingsman The Golden Circle

You might think that a movie that assembled five Academy Award winners would exude gravitas occupying a position of cinematic nobility. Under conditions you might be correct but not in the film under consideration, ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle.’ This is a rather tongue in cheek action movie that was made in the image of the Saturday afternoon matinee features. There is one significant caveat in this comparison. The content of the film is substantially more mature than anything that would have been permissible back then. The sexual content and near constant barrage of ‘F-bombs,’ would disqualify and direct comparison. As a sequel to ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service,’ it is extending the format of rather a raunchy story of Britain’s independent covert intelligence organization, the Kingsman. The first film proved to succeed as a satire of the perennial favorite genre, spies, specifically the iconic patriarch of this type of movie, the James Bond franchise. The defining element of this amazingly long-lasting espionage series is considered the amazing gadgets that ‘Q’ devises to assist 007 in the field. In the current pair of movies comprising the Kingsman saga gadgets once again take on such a substantial impact on forwarding the storyline that they can rightfully be viewed as characters themselves. With an arsenal encompassing technological marvels as their umbrellas. A stanchion of every English gentleman’s wardrobe, this item does more than ward off inclement weather, it is a thread proof shield and weapon’s platform with unidirectional visibility. Their ordnance master, Merlin (Mark Strong), outshines ‘Q’ in imagination and his talent for creating offensive and defensive devices that are suitably acceptable for a proper gentleman. The sequel expands this concept offering the foundation for the comparison between the United Kingdom and the United States. Despite the illustrious cast, this film eschews the serious, emotional potential of cinema in favor of an exciting excursion filled with explosions, gun fights and martial arts battle that completely ignore gravity, momentum and any laws of the physical reality that might obstruct the entertainment.

This sequel picks up a year after Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton), helped save the world from an eccentric, megalomaniac intent on saving the world. The success came at a great price, the death of his friend and mentor, Harry Hart (Colin Firth). Eggsy rose to the full rank of field operative assuming Harry’s codename, Galahad. There is one thing that is required in an action movie, action, and the filmmaker who started the franchise, Matthew Vaughn, doesn’t make fans wait. Before you can grab your first handful of popcorn Eggsy is engaged in a breakneck car chase through the streets of the city. His pursuer is Charlie (Edward Holcroft), a Kingsman prospect that washed out losing his right arm and voice box in the process. Now fitted with an advanced cybernetic replace he almost has Eggsy only to be outwitted at the last second. Eggsy gets away taking the arm with him. Seen by the audience but not our protagonist, the artificial limb is still active and able to hack into the Kingsman’s roster information. While Eggsy is busy meeting his girlfriend’s parents, his friend and co-worker, Roxy Morton (Sophie Cookson), is at home on her laptop feeding Eggsy information through an earbud. This elaborate ruse is necessary because of the exalted status of his girlfriend and her parents. She is Princess Tilde of Sweden (Hanna Alström), and her parents are the King and Queen. The King judges people by whether they can impress him at their first meeting so with Roxy’s help Eggsy has every possible topic covered. During the dinner, the stolen roster was used to guide missile strikes killing every member of the organization except for Galahad and their quartermaster, arms master, and technical support genius, Merlin (Mark Strong). Fortunately, his name was not on the list of field agents.

Merlin decides they must activate the doomsday protocol that turns out to be a bottle of American bourbon. The bottle contains a clue leading them to Kentucky to the Statesman distilleries. Once there they discover it is their American counterparts purposely kept apart for reasons such as this. After proving their bona fides, they are introduced to the Statesmen. They all have codenames referring to drinks. Their leader is Champaign (Jeff Bridges), better known as Champ The two field agents present are Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal). Their counterpart for Merlin is a woman, Ginger ale (Halle Berry). The protocol is approved, and the vast resources of the Statesman are at their disposal. Their hunt for those responsible would ultimately lead them to the hidden lair of the world’s dominant drug lord, Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore). Her headquarters located in dense Cambodian jungles has been refashioned into ‘Poppy Land.’ Poppy is driven by how despite having a monopoly on recreation drugs, including meth, cocaine, and heroin, so her use of the adjective, recreational is in a very broad and loose sense. Everything in Poppy Land is modeled after the idealized fifties America popularized by television and movies. She is also distrustful of human minions preferring to rely upon robots. These include her robotic guard dogs, Bennie and Jet. Another obsession manifested by this psychopath is pink is with Sir Elton John. She has gone so far as to kidnap Sir Elton forcing him to perform on demand. He also becomes a test subject for her evil master plan.

Taking advantage of her drug monopoly, she has tainted all her products with an engineered virus. Upon exposure first, the victim develops a rash resembling blur veins all over their body. Next, come complete paralysis which ultimately results in a painful death. She demands all drugs be universally legalized and taxed so that she can be recognized as the world’s most successful businesswoman. Unless her demands are met, even casual drug users will die. Back at the Statesman HQ, Tequila was known to party during his off hours, becomes afflicted. The President of the United States (Bruce Greenwood) is charged with coordinating the ransom, but he views this as an opportunity to make history. By refusing to meet Poppy’s demands, every drug user in the world will die eliminating the need for the war on drugs. The police force, courts and the entire economy will benefit almost instantly. Refusing to listen to his advisors he disregards the fact that his actions are genocide. When Tilde smokes a joint, she becomes affected making the situation personal for Eggsy. There is an upside to all this devastation. The Statesman rescued Harry saving his life with an advanced treatment for a catastrophic head injury. Unfortunately, he has retrograde amnesia and doesn’t remember the Kingsman. Eggsy snaps him out of it but some doubt the success of the recovery when Harry believes there is a double agent among them.

Fundamentally, the plot of the movie is derived from standard archetypes and tropes found in every espionage-related movie. It is to be expected since the goal of the filmmaker is to create a modernized parody of the James Bond franchise and every rip off it has spawned. The gadgets are borderline impossible but tame considering what the genre has created. For the English gentleman of Kingsman, a Kevlar well-tailored suit, an umbrella, and conservative glasses were de rigueur for the field agent on the go, but the Statesman organization has customized their accouterments to be consistent with a western theme. Stetson hats, jeans, and aviator glasses are standard issue. Whisky does wield a unique twist on a familiar weapon. He carries a lariat that quickly retracts into its handle. The lasso loop expands, and contracts as needed reducing to grab a gun or to expand to tie the bad guys. At a push of a button, it is electrified enabling it to leave a human in half. The action is not restricted to just the villains and agents, Sir Elton throws himself wholeheartedly into the is not s great film, but it works as an entertaining afternoon.

Posted 12/27/2017

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