Kingsman the Golden Circle: Spying the British Still Seduces but Does Not Surprise Anymore
Twentieth Century Fox's "Kingsman: The Golden Circle."

After the critical and public success of the first opus, Kingsman returns in a sequel, Le Cercle d’or, deliberately more explosive and fun. Still directed by Matthew Vaughn and adapted (freely) from Mark Millar’s original comic book, this second opus of Eggsy’s adventures proves to be as effective as the first one, the surprise effect less.

In early 2015, as French cinemagoers discover the latest Quentin Tarantino and feverishly await George Miller’s Fury Road , a small blockbuster – $80 million budget – with a British accent comes to warm up the month of February. What’s his name? Kingsman – Secret Service, an action-spy feature film by Matthew Vaughn (X-Men : The Beginning) adapted from the comic of the same name by Mark Millar (Kick Ass) and Dave Gibbons (Watchmen).

In spite of its 5-star cast and the talented artists attached to the project, the film came as a real surprise at the time, relying on a supercharged staging very close to the comic-book narrative. This narrative style serves a simple but terribly effective story, carried by endearing characters and a writing style that is both respectful of the classics and devilishly irreverent at the same time. With a great box-office success, this modern-day James Bond, starring Taron Egerton, was bound to come back for a new cinematic adventure.

Scheduled for release in French theatres on 11 October 2017, Kingsman – Le Cercle d’or follows on directly from the first opus, presenting Eggsy in his new spy daily. A routine that he will not really have time to prowl around, since the headquarters and all the English agents are quickly eliminated. This leads the young agent, accompanied by Merlin (Mark Strong), to discover the existence of their American cousins, the Statesmen: a collaboration is needed to learn more about the threat that hangs over the world.

Kingsman the Golden Circle: Spying the British Still Seduces but Does Not Surprise Anymore

© 20th Century Fox 2017

In the Service of Her Majesty

Where the first Kingsman opened with a long introductory sequence to properly introduce the concept and origins of the Eggsy character, his sequel starts directly on the title screen and moves on to a chase scene in the heart of London. The spirit remains the same, however, with Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy launching the feature film on a pop rhythm, as a nod toMoney for Nothing by the Dire Straits, which set the rock tone of the first opus. That’s reassuring from the outset: Matthew Vaughn lost none of his energy behind the camera.

All the action scenes are cut to perfection, the camera makes the craziest movements and the punchy editing reminds us that we are in front of the natural extension of Secret Services. This impression is confirmed in each action scene, which seems to come straight out of a comic book as the director struggles to make each movement fluid and readable, even if it goes against the physics. A special care that is not limited to the visual dimension alone.

Scripted by the duo Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman, who have been working together since Kick Ass, the film takes particular care to extend the narrative arcs of these characters as well as certain themes of the universe. Breaking away from the classic rules of adaptation – since it is not based on a comic book by Mark Millar but offers a real extension of the first film –Le Cercle d’or proves to be delightful thanks to its gallery of endearing characters. Beautiful qualities and an overflowing desire, which will sometimes reveal some nasty flaws.

Kingsman the Golden Circle: Spying the British Still Seduces but Does Not Surprise Anymore

© 20th Century Fox 2017

Good Kisses from America

This new Kingsman tries to mix two seemingly contradictory elements whose alchemy remains very delicate: novelty and repetition. In the end, he keeps slaloming between the two, without ever really choosing sides.

On the one hand, he offers an extension of his techno-espionage universe with the Statesmen, American cousins of the British agents, who allow him to introduce new characters while slipping in some very effective little tackles, playing as much on the image of America (and its current president) throughout the world as on the cultural conflict that has always existed between the country of Uncle Sam and that of Queen Elizabeth.

But at the same time, Le Cercle d’or is built like a mirror of the first opus, either to play on a certain shift (comic, most of the time), or to underline the evolution of certain characters. The effect of repetition is therefore sometimes present, particularly on the nature of the threat that agents must face, which affects other societal and political issues but which remains on the same scale as that of the first.

The character of Poppy (Julianne Moore), a cold and disturbing villain, also wants the same image as the genius of the Valentine tech (Samuel L. Jackson), and his plan will address surprising subjects, such as society’s point of view on drug use or the balance of power between rulers and ruled.

Kingsman the Golden Circle: Spying the British Still Seduces but Does Not Surprise Anymore

© 20th Century Fox 2017

You only live twice

Beyond action and purpose, this new Kingsman relies heavily on its impressive cast. Taron Egerton’s interpretation is as charismatic and subtle as ever, as is that of his colleague Mark Strong. The young Hanna Alström, seen at the end of the first opus, proves to be touching. As for Colin Firth, his expected return comes as a surprise by his acting, much less by his writing.

Actors who are used to the exercise, who were joined for this Cercle d’Or by a fine line-up of stars, including Jeff Bridges, still as solid as ever, Halle Berry, in a timid but interesting role, Pedro Pascal, whose role turns out to be more important than expected, and finally Channing Tatum, the film’s most under-exploited character.

And that’s where the problem lies: Kingsman 2 seems to be going way too fast on a whole series of new elements and sub-plots. The impression, already disturbing during the session, is confirmed after learning that 1h20 of unpublished images have been cut from the film. In fact, this element, coupled with a writing that too often plays the mirror effect with the events of the first one, we regret the lack of surprise, this dose of freshness that the first Kingsmanbrought.

The culmination of this lack of risk-taking is the absence of a scene as crazy, gratuitous and furious as the church scene in the previous feature film. The only thing missing from the mirror effect intended by the writers is the rhythm, which creates a small slowdown before the final sequence – which is still very effective.

Kingsman the Golden Circle: Spying the British Still Seduces but Does Not Surprise Anymore

© 20th Century Fox 2017

In brief

Kingsman – The Golden Circle

Indicative note : 4/5

Rather unexpected when it was released in theatres, Kingsman – Secret Service surprised its audience with an unbridled and fun action-spy film. After a very nice popular success, Kingsman – Le Cercle d’Or could have taken the opportunity to navigate in troubled and unexplored waters by still playing the surprise card. Instead, he prefers not to take any risks and chooses to play again with the same formula to offer a rhythmic, comical and relaxed show.

Once the mourning of the surprise is accepted, the film is still a very nice entertainment, with a Matthew Vaughn always committed and eager to propose an inventive direction. However, this second opus is much more like a kind of B-side of the first Kingsman than a real sequel that dynamizes the saga.

Top

  • A staging as furious as ever
  • A script that cares about its characters
  • Egerton Taron

Bof

  • Underutilized elements
  • No equivalent to the church scene.
  • Bis repetita from time to time