The Golden Circle, Not Kingly

The hotly anticipated sequel to the 2015 action extravaganza  Kingsman: The Secret Service has hit cinemas. But Christian Tesfaye almost hopes it had not, awarding 4 out of 10 stars to The Golden Circle.

It was probably The Matrix that ruined action movies. It was the first expensive film to use special effects in action movies just as much as stunt doubles. Someone along the short history of cinema figured out that it was cheaper to use artificially generated images of fighting men than having to train Hollywood stars to pretend to kickbox.

But The Matrix was at least a good movie, and we tolerated its feigned action sequences. But what came after it was all glitz and glamour and no substance. Few films had the sci-fi movie’s clever dialogues or brilliantly convoluted plot. Even the Wachowskis could not repeat their success with The Matrix sequels.

I liked Kingsman: The Secret Service. It did not look like it employed stunt doubles, or that any of the actors had trained for the fight scenes. At least 70pc of its action sequences were computer generated. But I did not mind a lot because the movie was fun. It had many exciting moments, and I thought it utilised Samuel L. Jackson outlandishness pretty well.

The problem was that The Secret Service made money. And some dough necessitates more dough. Thus, a sequel.

It is subtitled The Golden Circle. The same person as The Secret Service directed it and also brings back most of the stars from the previous movie. Except, that is, of course, the villains, because in the prequel’s ending a lot of head explosions had taken place.

Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is in love. But he also still serves as a spy. One night leaving his office – by which I mean the top-secret hideout of the Kingsman – he is confronted by a former trainee who works for a brand new criminal. Although Eggsy succeeds in getting rid of him, a villainous organisation by the name of The Golden Circle tracks down the Kingsman hideout.

After an ambush (in the form of missiles) where only Eggsy and the computer expert Merlin (Mark Strong) survive from the Kingsman clan, they have to find new allies. This takes them to Kentucky, to meet their “American cousins”. There they find another secret spy agency by the name of Statesman, where they are acquainted with an old friend, Harry (Colin Firth). The Golden Circle for its part, headed by the psychopathic genius Poppy (Julianne Moore), infects hundreds of millions of people with a virus and holds an antidote for ransom.

In many ways, The Golden Circle, the movie, is lazy. The exaggerated action sequences of the first movie at least never took themselves seriously. This is not the case here.

It starts with Moore, an actor I admire very much. In The Golden Circle, she is dull, like she had to come to work but did not want to. And it is hard to blame her. The types of dialogues she has to deal with made me cringe. There was not a moment in the film where she appeared to be one of those astute Bond-like villains; she was just plain weird.

Then there are the action sequences. Except for, the last one, most of the fight scenes are unbefitting of a sequel. The filmmakers thought they could get away by replaying similarly exaggerated fight scenes, but it does not work that way. In The Secret Service, watching Firth fight and Egerton somersault together with the camera may have been fun, but only because it was a unique experience.

The return of Harry is the most unforgivable though. There is nothing more tedious than being told that a character who died has come back to life by some freak of accident or novel technology. This is one of the reasons I stopped watching series, like Prison Break or 24. The characters that most audiences like just never seem to die, like cockroaches.

I am all the more surprised that such a lousy movie passed by Matthew Vaughn. It may be unfair, but the disappointment with a bad movie worsens when behind the camera stands a filmmaker who has delivered before. Vaughn obviously has a gift for creating characters and scenes that not so many people take seriously, but are so much fun, even for non-commercial audiences. Such frigid nonsense as The Golden Circle is not suitable of a director who has given us some of the most exciting action movies of the past decade as Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class.

There will probably be a third film, as this one looks like it would make a decent amount of money. I am not sure how much the filmmakers can salvage, but I doubt more celebrity cameos, like that of Elton John, could be the answer. But no one listens to me. If Vaughn’s IMDB page is to be believed, a third Kingsman is already in his cards.

Published on Sep 23,2017 [ Vol 18 ,No 908]



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