If you liked the 2014 “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” then get ready for more rowdy and the continued subversion of cultural myths because “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” takes the clean-cut innocence of the 1950s and makes it sweet evil. Goodbye “Happy Days” and hello white America June Cleaver from hell.
The sexism of “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is transformed as we see Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the new Kingsman with the code name Galahad is in a committed relationship with Princess Tilde (Hanna Alstrom). Eggsy is an honorable man and not some slimy bed-hopper.
Roxy, code-name Lancelot (Sophie Cookson), returns as Eggsy’s best buddy at the agency as does Merlin (Mark Strong).
On his way home to an important dinner, Eggsy meets an old foe, Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft). Charlie was a failed Kingsman trainee, who lost the spot to Roxy and went rogue with the villain from “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” Samuel L. Jackson’s Richmond Valentine.
Valentine had murdered Eggsy’s mentor, Harry Hart (Colin Firth), but Eggsy, with the help of Roxy and Merlin had subdued Charlie, killed Valentine and Valentine’s well-connected legion of international leaders.
Charlie attempts to kill Eggsy in a thrilling gadget-filled car chase that ends with Eggsy escaping the police by submerging his car and entering a secret underwater garage. Unable to wait, Eggsy must take the sewer to reach his home where he, his dog and Princess Tilde are living together. Tilde, of course, knows that Eggsy’s real job is saving the world, but her parents do not. Tonight is a special dinner with friends where Eggsy gets a friend to watch his dog while he heads off the next day for Sweden and a first meet with Tilde’s parents, the king and queen of Sweden.
Wearing his special glasses, aided by his dead mentor’s (Harry Hart) lessons on fine dining and info provided by Lancelot, he impresses Tilde’s parents until he realizes that his something is wrong at home and internationally. Even though Eggsy escaped from Charlie, Charlie was able to obtain the locations of all the Kingsman. As a result, all of them are killed except Merlin and Eggsy, but who is behind this dastardly plot?
Charlie is now a bionic man gone bad working for the sweet-looking Poppy Adams, a criminal mastermind and the most successful American business woman in the world. Her business? Drug dealing. Unfortunately, this global entrepreneur is forced by international laws, to live in the middle of a jungle where she has desecrated ancient ruins and built up a fantasy 1950s town complete with a beauty shop, a donut shop and her office which is a diner. Poppy is behind the counter as the fresh-faced June Cleaver perky hostess and cook. She is the leader of the Golden Circle and has her own initiation ceremony, Elton John as her captive entertainer and two electronic Doberman pinschers (named Benny and Jett).
Merlin and Eggsy follow the back-up plan, going to a specific old wine seller to find in a vault a bottle of whiskey which takes them to Kentucky whiskey distillery called Statesman. Eggsy and Merlin break in, but are quickly discovered by Tequila (Channing Tatum). Fighting ensues but the Kingsman are subdued. The Statesman are led by Champagne (Jeff Bridges) and include Jack Daniels (Pedro Pascal) who looks like a young Burt Reynolds and works with a technologically advanced whip and lariat; Ginger Ale who is the tech support and the wild Tequila.
And the surprise is, the Statesman have a lepidopterist who turns out to be Harry, the Galahad in the previous movie who had been assumed dead. This is, after all, a movie based on a comic book series and does anyone really die in comic books when there are creative writers around with faux scientific write-arounds? Harry has amnesia.
Together, the Kingsman and the Statesman learn that Poppy’s evil plan is to hold the world hostage by infecting people with a deadly virus which causes what looks like an extreme case of varicose veins all over one’s body, but that’s only the first sign. Eventually, the disease progresses to paralysis and finally to death. Poppy has a golden elixir which can cure the virus, but she has a price.
For the Kingsman and the Statesman, this world problem is personal–Tequila and Princess Tilde are afflicted due to recreational drug use. They can’t depend upon help from the US president (Bruce Greenwood)who has his own devious plans.
Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, who wrote “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” have also written this movie which features true love and loyalty between bouts of well-choreographed hyper-violence. As director, Vaughn keeps the pace quick and the romance hot but also develops emotional connections between the characters. You can be sure that like a story with a loaded gun, some of the prop pieces will come into play during the final fighting where even Elton John, will get his kicks in.
As before, manners maketh the man and Eggsy will save his sweetheart just as she has saved him from the loneliness that Harry realizes a life devoted only to a secret service can entail. Channing Tatum fans might be disappointed on his limited appearance, but there is a third movie planned and this movie hints that Tatum will be a larger part of that one. “The Kingsman: The Golden Circle” opens on 22 September 2017 (Thursday) and is rated R for sexual scenes and violence.
“The Golden Circle” does leave you with an additional question: Suited or Booted. Anyone from the Southwest knows that you can be both suited and booted and the end shot of Tatum pretty much give that answer, too.