By Lilly Ball
“Manners maketh man.” These words, spoken before an epic fight scene, launched Colin Firth (known mainly for period dramas) into a role he had not previously played —action hero. When “Kingsman: The Secret Service” launched into theatres in 2014, director Matthew Vaughn surprised audiences and critics alike with his raunchy, intense and incredibly entertaining approach to the art of the spy film. Featuring the same masterful fight choreography and gorgeous cinematography that shocked fans the first time round, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” lives up to the hype generated by its predecessor, and somehow manages to shock us yet again.
The film is set about a year after the head-exploding Valentine incident, as the screen erupts into violence as rejected Kingsman agent Charlie returns to wreak havoc amongst the agency. Eggsy, now known as the new Agent Galahad, is forced to take charge alongside Merlin (Mark Strong) as the Kingsmen are destroyed by Charlie and the terrorist organization he works for. The pair is led to the Statesmen, (an agency similar to the Kingsman but for the American government) where they quickly start a revenge mission with the help of cowboy-esque spies and their arsenal of American-themed weapons. The organization, discovered to be The Golden Circle, is quickly sought out as the agents set on a course to, once again, “save the world.”
An interesting topic is brought up during the film, as The Golden Circle thrives off of the drug trade. Many characters are conflicted in their point of view, debating whether or not people who utilize drugs are even worth saving. While some deem them unforgivable criminals, others present a compelling argument about self-medication and drug culture, fighting for those with less power and representation. Somewhere, in between the scenes of brute violence, “Kingsman” manages to take on current political issues.
The strangest thing Vaughn accomplishes is the miracle of making bloody and overtly shocking fight scenes seem somewhat light-hearted. Though there are many deaths within the film (some careless and violent, others tragic and unexpected), the overall mood and tone remains humorous. Though shocking deaths and plot twists have occurred in the past film, it appears as if there is always hope for the Kingsmen just around the corner. It could be the ongoing gag of Elton John screaming the f-word or the abundance of John Denver tracks, but “Kingsman” never hits a low point. Characters come and go, as Eggsy prevails through all, remaining stylishly dressed at all times.
The incessant action of the film borders on overkill, it is saved by the use of long takes and slow-motion, intermixed with graceful choreography that makes it appear as if the actors are dancing with the camera and each other. The scenes become an endless stream of fast paced movement and are almost mesmerizing, as no more than five minutes can pass between each act of violence. The excessive bloodshed does create a slight sense of urgency, despite the film having over two hours to develop its plot. Less Elton John could have amended this, but with each of his appearances, the audience erupted into laughter.
Unlike many sequels, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” was a welcomed release, one anticipated by both action and comedy fans alike. With all the audacity and madness of the first, the film reaches for over-the-top, yet never falls to pieces.