Kingsman: The golden sequel


Sean Koepfinger

Comedy sequels are rarely as good as the original, and far fewer can tell an original story. But, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” does a fantastic job of following in the footsteps of its predecessor.

With all the same spy-movie hijinx, over-the-top characters and stylized action, “The Golden Circle” brings back the best elements of the original while expanding the universe of the “Kingsman” franchise.

Photo credit: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

With much of the movie taking place in America, the sequel introduces us to the Kingsman’s American counterparts, The Statesman. This kind of contrast is what makes sequels work. We’ve already seen the fantastical, high-class world of the British secret service, but we haven’t seen the cowboy-hat-wearing, lasso-wielding, gun-toting spies of the U.S. This change of scenery allows the movie to expand on its world as well as ride its former success.

This is similar to the way that “22 Jump Street” managed to surpass its predecessor by changing the location while keeping the formula mostly the same. And “The Golden Circle” doesn’t shy away from nodding at the original.

Some of the best moments of the movie come from cinematic nods to the first film, with camera angles, settings and dialogue nearly mirroring the former. But, when these moments truly shine is when they deviate from expectations. The classic “manners maketh man” scene from the original is duplicated here, but it ends very differently. Having already seen the outcome twice in the first film, it’s nice to see the filmmakers embrace their own cliches and use them to their advantage.

Fortunately,”The Golden Circle” is not just rehashed material with a new paint job; it also ramps up the action. Part of what made the original so enjoyable was the hyper-stylized action scenes — complete with over-the-top villains worthy of a Bond film. The sequel amplifies these scenes. With more villains, gadgets, chases and explosions, the sequel earns every dollar you spend on your movie ticket.

Photo credit: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Another area where the film improves is in its depiction of romance. The original film was often criticized for a scene where a damsel in distress offers herself to the hero if he can save the world. The sequel resolves this arrant sexism by showing them in a healthy relationship where commitment to each other is key. In a world where women in media are often shown only as sexual objects, it’s nice to see a movie showing otherwise.

But under all the action, romance and laughs, “The Golden Circle” delivers some fantastic commentary on the war on drugs. With a plot focused on a drug cartel, the film is presented with a great opportunity to shape how the audience perceives this very real issue. On one hand we have a villain who is trying to convince the world to legalize her merchandise, citing the fact that things like sugar, tobacco and alcohol are all legal and are “worse” than her drugs. She argues that regulated narcotics could be safe and beneficial to society. On the opposite side, we see a president willing to let people die just because they’ve used illegal drugs –showing that he prioritizes a supposed moral high ground over human lives. This social commentary is exaggerated but forces the audience to question the ethics of illegal drug use, and making the film not only entertaining but philosophical.

In general, “The Golden Circle” does a fine job of following up its predecessor. It’s not perfect. A lot of the movie feels like a typical blockbuster action film, but the genre parodying, the all-star cast and the memorable characters makes this sequel succeed. It’s not too often a comedy sequel can meet expectations, but “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” does exactly that — all the while surrounded by gratuitous amounts of explosions.