“This here is Daisy Domergue. She’s wanted dead or alive for murder. When that sun comes out, I’m taking this woman to hang! There anybody here committed to stopping me from doing that?” | The Hateful Eight (2015)
Kingsman: The Secret Service came out in early 2015 and blew everyone away with how fun it was as well as how well written the characters are all complemented by Matthew Vaughn’s strong direction. The first Kingsman stood out in a year where there were many spy films. Not taking itself seriously while sending up the Bond franchise which would release one of the worst films in that franchise in late 2015 with Spectre, Kingsman was everything I loved about studio films. Kingsman: The Golden Circle shows why Matthew Vaughn has jumped shipped from every franchise he started. The Golden Circle is one of 2017’s biggest disappointments.
After being attacked by a familiar face, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, codenamed Galahad (Taron Egerton) must find the people responsible for the destruction of Kingsman. Heading to America for help from their American counterparts Statesman, the two agencies must stop a criminal organization named The Golden Circle headed by Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), before millions die across the globe.
This is a case of a movie suffering from sequel-itis with The Golden Circle being a soft remake of TheSecret Service. We got Eggsy facing off against his rival again, another megalomaniac trying to profit off the world’s destruction, another bar fight, another mountain hideout, another big betrayal by a “good guy”, another situation where Eggsy’s loved ones and the world at large depend on him.
We start off very strong with a fun chase scene through London set to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy”. You’ve got me in the bag. And that opening chase sets the plot in motion for the rest of the film. Sadly, that’s where it ends for me. There are characters that are killed off and/or sidelined that took me out it considering we spend a good portion of the second act figuring out just how Harry Hart aka the OG Galahad (Colin Firth) survived that bullet to the head from the first film. It’s a disservice to the actors and the characters to be tossed aside.
Julianne Moore is great as Poppy. Sadly, Poppy is just not as interesting, threatening, or charismatic as Samuel L. Jackson’s Richmond Valentine. Nor did I ever feel that The Golden Circle was as embedded everywhere in influence or threat as Valentine was. And yes, Poppy also a superpowered handicapped henchman cause we gotta play all of the first film’s greatest hits. There’s a weird running gag with Poppy that uses a meat grinder, which is equal parts disgusting and nonsensical.
I loved the Statesman. Playing into the American stereotype of whiskey drinking cowboys is a great choice for the world these films inhabit, but they feel more like a plot device, unlike Kingsman which had weight to it. I love that they’re all named after various alcohols except for Halle Berry’s tech counterpart to Mark Strong’s Merlin. She’s named Ginger Ale.
A lot of the emotional beats, as well as jokes, fall flat this time. The relationship between Eggsy and Princess Hilde (Hanna Alström) is at the forefront in this film, and while yes, while it’s sweet and endearing, I just couldn’t find myself invested in it. Another Fox film, Alien: Covenant, used John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and its use in Kingsman: The Golden Circle is supposed to be a big emotional moment that falls completely flat. Its use is for a big character that I love at a pivotal moment in the film’s climax that left me unmoved. The same song had more weight and an emotional payoff for another Channing Tatum movie that largely went unseen just a month prior. Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky does what Kingsman: The Golden Circle wanted to do with the song. And while there’s no anal sex joke this time out (it’s implied), there’s a whole fingering gag that’s used to advance the plot and it feels just as cheap as the anal sex joke.
The set pieces in this are very fun. They’re bigger and staged more elaborately than the first. As stated the opening car chase is hella fun as well as an escape from a facility that turns into a big shootout. The lasso used by Statesman agent Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) has to be one of the most inventive, and coolest, weapons I’ve seen in a while. Nothing however in this film comes close to topping the church scene from the previous film. That was balls to the wall action done well that Vaughn tries to replicate a few times here and it never comes close. Same goes for the climax. He tries to top the climax of the first film and can’t. The stakes and inventiveness of that climax are just not there.
This is two and a half hours, nearly an hour longer than the first, and for what amounts to be a soft remake. It’s baffling that this is the best Vaughn could come up with. While there is some fun to be had from Kingsman: The Golden Circle, this all amounts to something you could catch on HBO in January or February. With so much on the horizon, as well as a kid’s film that’s much more fun than this coming out the same day, I’m so disappointed that one of my favorite films from 2015 from a director who consistently delivers, would give us this. If there is a third Kingsman movie, everyone involved is going to have to step up their game big time.
10. Bill, Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) & Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)
A murdering bastard with a broken heart that give probably one of the most awesome monologue in history. I specifically like this character because he has many layers, not just a murdering brutal killer.
9. Shoshanna Dreyfus, Inglourious Basterds (2009)
In the pool of bad-ass women in Quentin’s movies, Shoshanna definitely is one of them with her strong character having survived a massacre that included her family’s murderer in front of her eyes and also she ended the third Reich (no biggie), yet a side of vulnerability and a good heart.
8. Jackie Brown, Jackie Brown (1997)
Ballsey and gettin’ into trouble with a dirty mouth & a gun at the ready making her also one of the bad-ass woman in the pool. Willing to screw over everyone & anyone to ensure her own happily ever after.
7. Vincent Vega, Pulp Fiction (1994)
The Vega brother. A man who kills people but when it comes to jabbing an adrenaline shot into his boss’s wife’s chest cause she’s O.Ding … he’s a wuss. Smooth, cautious and well, a bit of a klutz to “accidentally” pull the trigger and blow someone’s brains out in the middle of broad daylight in the car on a highway…
6. Mr. Blonde/ Vic Vega, Reservoir Dogs (1992)
The other Vega.The most ruthless Quentin villain so far in my opinion. One hell of a sinister man that made ear-slicing really enjoyable. (I say that in the most non-psycho way… *clears throat*) moving on…
5. Dr. King Schultz,, Django Unchained (2012)
A dentist/ bounty hunter. It doesn’t get better than that. A German civil rights advocate that helped poor Django on his journey to rescue his beloved . The man raised the bar of being bad-ass to a whole new level. also having an “exceptional beard” and a few tricks up his sleeve (if ya know what I mean ;))
4. Django Freeman, Django Unchained (2012)
Courage & fearlessness doesn’t even begin to describe this character. With all the burden of being a slave having to be forced to be separated from his wife and going through hell & beyond to find & rescue her becoming the “fastest gun in the south”.
3. Col. Hans Landa, Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Wow. Just wow. Of course I’m only basing this list on the characters not the portrayal of the actors, but Christoph Waltz’s portrayal is far too epic not to mention it which was the sole reason why this character has climbed it’s way to being one of the very best of Quentin’s. Hans Landa a vicious, merciless colonel in the SS who his lack of morals leads him to topple Germany to save his own ass. Also, his pipe is bigger than yours.Wait… no, I mean pipe as in the actual fuckin’ pipe that you smoke…. oii.
Kick-ass, bad-ass, strong. None of these even come close to describing a woman that’s not just one of the best female characters in Quentin movies but of all time. Pop culture’s deadliest woman that has no super powers, advanced technology or any of that. Just the thirst for vengeance and one hell of a Hattori Hanzo sword.
FINALLY, the BEST Tarantino character is…
Drum roll please.
1. Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction (1994)
Jules puts the E, P, I & C in EPIC!! And without a doubt I must mention Sam Jackson’s portrayal that made every letter to come out of Jules’ mouth an un-forgettable quote, and if it was played by ANYONE else, Beatrix Kiddo would be topping my list, which to be honest I wanna give em’ both the #1 spot, but Sammy’s portrayal just didn’t allow me to. A bible-reciting, burger-loving hitman that, if it’s even possible, made the legacy of 'Pulp Fiction’ even COOLER. He is by far & hands down, a gem of Tarantino & cinema history.