Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Spoiler warning for Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017).

What can I say about this movie except “excellent”? It’s probably my 2nd favorite movie of all time, right after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which I’ve talked about before on this blog. I’ll admit that I was surprised. I never expect much of sequels, but this was a great movie.

The Kingsman movies, both of them, are essentially James Bond spoofs that make no attempts to take themselves seriously. That’s probably why the over-the-top action is so believable. The movie isn’t trying to pass itself off as this super serious spy flick like James Bond usually does. You know what I mean about JB: he’s all brooding, mysterious, sleeps with women then leaves them by the wayside with no remorse. And while I don’t mind the occasional Bond movie, they’re nowhere near as much fun as Kingsman.

For a quick run-through of the plot, our hero Eggsy (nickname) works for a private intelligence agency in the UK called Kingsman, who hide in plain sight in London by pretending to be upper-class tailors, complete with bespoke suits and fancy dress shoes.

Anyhow, Eggsy meets an old “friend” from the first movie who hacks Kingsman, all of Kingsman is hunted down by missiles sent by the movie’s villain (we’ll get to her later), and the only survivors are Eggsy himself and Merlin, the Kingsman’s resident Scottish tech guy and mission control.

Seeing as how everyone they work with has just been wiped out, they’re forced to activate their “Doomsday Protocol”. That is, go to their American equivalent agency, the Statesmen, for help. And let me just say, as an American, I absolutely approve of the American spies’ aesthetic being “cowboy”. English gentlemen are great and all, but there’s nothing like a good bullwhip fight in a saloon. Am I right?

It helps that all the main male characters are very easy on the eyes.

For anyone who’s seen the first movie and grown to love Colin Firth’s mentor character Harry Hart, the reveal that he survived his headshot in that movie will be a big relief, especially since this movie digs even deeper into his psyche than the first one. It might have even been a wonderfully surprising twist, had the fact not been spoiled months before the movie released. Oh, well.

I read a few reviews online complaining about how this movie doesn’t have the character growth and development that the first movie did. While I do agree to some extent, I would argue that the character development was not strictly needed. This movie carried itself just fine on its own. And I’d point out that James Bond himself is a very static character who almost never changes, yet that doesn’t damage anyone’s opinion of him.

But I’m not here to compare Kingsman and 007. I will freely admit that, while I do like Eggsy, our classic rags-to-riches protagonist who’s scored himself a Swedish princess girlfriend by the time of this movie (more on her later), my favorite would have to be Harry Hart, his mentor/father figure/colleague. Judging by what I’ve read online, I’m not alone. He seems to be the near-universally favored character, at least partially due to being played by Colin Firth. But it’s not just that. I find spies attractive, I find gentlemen attractive, and I’ll admit that I’m one of many American girls who finds English accents attractive, all of which are traits that Harry Hart has. But more than that, this movie has him being vulnerable in a way we didn’t really see in the first movie.

In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Harry Hart was a near-unstoppable force of badassery and spy skills. Which is great, but made him a little predictable. I wasn’t worried during a particularly tense scene towards the end, mainly because he was completely wiping through the legions of enemies he was facing. Then he got shot in the head at point-black range, which I was not expecting, but more on that in another post.

This movie, on the other hand, has him starting as an amnesiac lepidopterist (someone who studies butterflies: the more you know). Apparently, recovering from a headshot isn’t an easy task. He’s reverted to his younger self, even asking for his mother in one scene. A few attempts by Eggsy and Merlin to bring back the Harry they knew fails, but we of course know they’re going to eventually succeed.

And Eggsy does, in the sweetest scene in the film involving a puppy and a reference to a particularly heart-wrenching scene from the first film that I won’t spoil for anyone. But I found myself tearing up in the cinema.

The main villain is, in my opinion, not as memorable as the one in the first film, but that’s not a huge issue. The only movies I ever watch purely for the villain is Godzilla and the first Avengers movie. And besides, did Julianne Moore, even great as she is, ever have a chance at living up to or surpassing Samuel L. Jackson?

For the most part, I have nothing but praise for this movie, but there is one thing I didn’t particularly like: Eggsy’s princess girlfriend. I did say I would get back to her later.

She’s a carry-over from the last movie. For the most part, I didn’t mind her. I even found her relationship with Eggsy to be cute. Just what a gentleman spy needs at the end of the day.

Until about 1/4-1/3 of the way through the movie. To set the scene, Eggsy has to sleep with a woman to plant a tracking bug on her. He obviously doesn’t want to, and is only going through with it because the fate of the world rests in the balance and the other agent he’s working with (played by Pedro Pascal) is apparently terrible at picking up women.

So, he flirts, he charms, and the mark invites him back to her tent. Before they actually get down to anything, though, he slips away to call the princess girlfriend in secret, to ask her permission to sleep with the woman and save the world.

Now, I’ll admit that I’ve never been cheated on. I’ve never even been in a relationship. But if my husband came up to me and told me honestly that he’d cheated on me but was sorry, that he loved me, that he felt guilty about it and would never do it again, I would be upset. I would feel betrayed and angry, and it would take me a while to trust him again. But at the same time, he told me. He didn’t leave it up to me to find out, to catch him in bed with a woman or find suspicious text messages on his phone. He took responsibility like an adult — like a man — and told me that he’d screwed up and regretted it.

I would forgive him. I’d be upset, but I’d forgive him.

And that’s not even what happened in the movie. Remember that Eggsy hasn’t slept with the woman yet. He’s slipped away to ask the girlfriend’s permission before he does anything with the other woman. He’s told the girlfriend, essentially, “I love you, but I have to sleep with her to save the world. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t have to”.

Naturally, she’s extremely upset, and it wrecks their relationship for most of the rest of the movie.

Eggsy isn’t an accountant. He isn’t a lawyer sneaking around behind your back with his secretary or some foxy widow. He isn’t a regular guy sleeping with another woman. He’s a James Bond spoof who has to plant a bug on a woman to save the world, and you’re gonna hold it against him?

In the end, Eggsy didn’t even sleep with the woman. He did the bare minimum of what he had to and ran off before anything else happened because he loved the girlfriend too much to really cheat on her. That’s love. But the girlfriend spends her next few scenes ignoring all his calls and texts, sobbing dramatically, and smoking marijuana.

Let me remind you, she didn’t find him in bed with some random woman. He called to ask her permission to do his job, and she’s acting like a 16 year old who’s just been dumped. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve never been cheated on, or if she’s over-dramatic because she’s a princess, or if I’m just super critical of female characters, but I didn’t think much of her after that. And naturally, Eggsy remains perfectly in love and devoted to her throughout all these dramatics of hers.

I don’t know why he didn’t just mention in one of his texts “btw, I didn’t really sleep with her, I love you too much for that, babe <3” or something, so that’s another flaw. All his texts are generic stuff like “need you so much right now”, which doesn’t seem like stuff you should text your girlfriend when she thinks you cheated on her, even if you didn’t. Overall, it seemed like a cheap way to make the situation more “real” for Eggsy, since the villain’s virus is spread through contaminated recreational drugs (marijuana, remember?). Girlfriend goes off the deep end, smokes pot, ends up infected, suddenly Eggsy has to move quickly or his girlfriend’s gonna be one of the millions of casualties. Honestly, though, in my opinion, the movie would’ve been better without it.

Anyway, that’s my only real gripe about the movie. Everything else was fantastic, and the princess situation is relatively easy to ignore. I’d probably give this movie a 9.5 out of 10, due to a combination of the above-mentioned girlfriend issue and not enough Colin Firth. The next movie should be just Harry Hart, maybe with Eggsy as a sidekick. That would be movie of the year in my book 🙂

I would absolutely recommend this movie to anyone who watched and enjoyed the first one. If you haven’t seen the first one, I still recommend it, but some aspects of the first movie will be spoiled for you. Maybe rent Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) before you hit the cinema.

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