Movie Review- Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Taron Egerton as "Eggsy"/Agent Galahad in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Photo courtesy of foxmovies.com
Hey, everyone. In addition to updating everyone on the status of my books and other works, I've decided to use this blog to start a new series of posts intended to highlight messages hidden within popular works of entertainment. No, I'm not talking about subliminal images or secret codes, but rather conservative ideas or traditional values being explored by venues of entertainment that aren't generally known for that sort of thing. So don't expect God's Not Dead or 2016: Obama's America to appear. What I'm looking for, instead, are movies that portray conservative values (even if they don't intend to) in styles and stories that are mainstream entertainment. Values, of any kind, are not conveyed to an audience by preaching at them. They have to be lived in, tested, and ultimately shown for making someone's life or the world as a whole a better place.
The first film I'd like to discuss is the recently released Kingsman: The Golden Circle. This movie is a sequel to the 2015 hit Kingsman: The Secret Service (which I will be looking at on its own in a later post). Without delving into spoiler territory, the Kingsman organization is a self-described "independent intelligence organization" who are dedicated to preserving world order. In this iteration, they are up against a powerful and crazed drug lord named Poppy (played by Julianne Moore). After using inside information to cripple the Kingsman organization, Poppy proceeds to hold millions of people around the world as hostages in her bizarre attempt at drug legalization. That, in and of itself, is kind of a libertarian idea (even if it's communicated in a weird and occasionally off-putting way), but it's not what we're going to be talking about today.
Instead, the thing that impressed me most about this movie (beyond its clever action sequences and great characters) was the relationship between protagonist "Eggsy" (played by Taron Egerton) and a character who was introduced as little more than a sexual conquest in the original. At the end of the first movie, Eggsy finds a Swedish princess locked in the villain's lair and offers to rescue her in exchange for a kiss. She offers something a bit more...intimate. And that was the end of the first movie. In any other spy story, she would have been a one-time conquest, a reward for saving the world. But The Golden Circle opens with the two involved in a loving, committed relationship. She knows who he is, so there isn't any of the usual secrecy that is cliche in spy romances. In one entertaining scene, Eggsy has to meet his girlfriend's parents, a scary enough proposition without them having the exacting social standards of literal royalty. As with the first movie, tradition, respect, and good manners are not only seen without the usual mocking overtones ironically but as foundational aspects of manhood. She isn't some kind of trophy, either, and hangs out with Eggsy's lower class friends without a shred of superiority. The fact that this series took essentially a throwaway, sexualized character and made her a great person and a stable part of Eggsy's life was impressive.
But the part that really impressed me was the later obligatory seduction scene where Eggsy, in order to literally save the world (again), has to get a woman to sleep with him so he can apply a bug into her bloodstream without her suspecting. Eggsy, a character notable for his cocky charm, is visibly uncomfortable the entire time at the idea of cheating on his girlfriend. Even with the fate of the world on the line, Eggsy manages to just get close enough to insert the tracker before he backs out. Even getting that close puts a strain on Eggsy that impacts his choices through the remainder of the film. The fact that the movie went out of its way to go against the James Bond stereotype of hooking up with women without emotional attachment was intriguing and treated the audience like adults in the best way.
Despite the (perhaps misleading) title, this is not a full review of Kingsman: The Golden Circle. But I will give a brief overview of the rest of the movie here. The first movie in the series was a masterpiece that paid tribute to classic British spy movies while having endless fun within its own concept. This sequel is good, but the villain is somewhat lacking and there are a couple of bizarre story choices made to increase the tension at the expense of sense. But these are minor complaints given the joy that this movie brings to the screen. The action sequences are slick, well-paced, humorous, and mostly avoid the overused shaky-cam crutch that has plagued recent action films. The acting, of the Kingsman agents particularly, is wonderful. Their manners and graces aren't just window dressing but represent the core of how they interact with the world. There is a lot of swearing and violence in the movie. It deserves its R-rating. But for people who are mature enough to endure such things, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a movie not to be missed.
I hope you liked the first post in my new series. I am always looking to give my readers good material, so if you enjoyed it please send me an e-mail or contact me on Facebook. If you want to make sure that you never miss one of these posts, be sure to sign up for the mailing list and get each new blog post sent directly to your inbox.