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Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
4K UHD Released: 12/12/2017

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/15/2017

If you've seen more than one movie, then you no doubt know that it's apparently hard to make a good movie. Given all of the elements which go into a film -- acting, cinematography, music, effects -- many things can go wrong, and that's assuming that those behind the camera have something resembling good intentions and aren't just there to try and make a buck. Given that premise, making a decent sequel to a good movie can be an even bigger challenge. Assuming that the success of the first film wasn't just dumb luck, the filmmakers must attempt to "capture lightning in a bottle" (as they say) once again, and, as stated above, not just be there to cash in. 2014's Kingsman: The Secret Service seemingly came out of nowhere and had the audacity to present new characters in a world dominated by reboots and sequels. Will the sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle be able to carry on that momentum?

Kingsman: The Golden Circle takes us back to the world of the Kingsman, an independent secret service agency which works out of a tailor shop in London. We once again meet Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the rough & tumble boy from the streets, who is now an elite agent. As the story opens, Eggsy is immediately attacked by Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft), a rejected Kingsman recruit who had supposedly been vanquished in the first film. Charlie is now working with Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), an incredibly successful drug-dealer who is tired of the fact that she can't received recognition for her work. Striking from her hideout in Cambodia, Poppy launches a plan to hold the world ransom. The first part of her plot is lashing out at the Kingsman. Eggsy and his technical expert, Merlin (Mark Strong), soon find themselves seeking aid from the last place they would expect -- Americans.

Kingsman: The Secret Service was a breath of fresh air in the landscape of spy movies. On the surface, it was a lot like James Bond, as it featured dapper British secret agents traveling the globe in an effort to save the world. However, it was much more than that. And it was more than just a modern version of James Bond. The Daniel Craig films were taking care of that, but they were much more gritty and grounded in reality than Kingsman. This new film had a well-dressed spy and a "Q"-like master of spy gadgets, but it also featured a completely over-the-top villain and a finale which was literally mind-blowing. Coming into this mix was Eggsy, the subtitles-required cockney street youth who proved to be a strange tether to the audience. Based on a comic by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, the glue holding Kingsman together was Director Matthew Vaughn, whose visual style rarely fails to satisfy.

While Kingsman: The Secret Service was certainly an entertaining film, it did have some flaws. Eggsy wasn't the most endearing character at first, and watching his training dragged at times. While the movie certainly took a chance with Samuel L. Jackson's character, Valentine was a bit much to take at times and he made even the most ludicrous Bond villains seem tame. And the third act of the film probably lost some viewers. So, given that, what would one expect from a sequel? Would you expect it to take the Kingsman formula and run with, creating a second chapter which surpasses the first?

Well, that's what Kingsman: The Golden Circle does. Now that the introductions are out of the way, the movie hits the ground running, with a spectacular car chase sequence. This is followed by a series of scenes which show that the film is not above killing off characters and that it is not pulling any punches. There is more action, drama, and surprises in the first act of Kingsman: The Golden Circle than in the entirety of most films. The one-two punch of the opening act is followed by more sharp curves as the action moves to the United States and introduces a new group of secret agents. This is also where the movie shows that it can be just as weird as the first entry as we learn more about Poppy, her plan, and a certain celebrity which she is holding hostage.

Perhaps it's due to the fact that the first film let us know just how weird things can get in this universe, but the truly wild stuff comes across as more charming than annoying this time around. And let me tell you, some truly wacky stuff happens at Poppy's. And while we get a hefty dose of strange here, the overall plot is pretty straight-forward and never needlessly complicated. (But, it does still manage to provide some good twists.) There is also more of an emotional balance in this movie. Eggsy is dealing with having a girlfriend (Hanna Alstrom) and mourning for his former mentor (Colin Firth), all while trying to save the world. Supporting all of this is the sure-handed direction of Matthew Vaughn. Somehow, this Englishman rarely gets any hype, but he continues to turn out one impressive action movie after another. The fight sequences here are all masterfully staged and the film's pace is right on cue, as the 141-minute running time sails by.

In my recent review for American Assassin, I wrote about how I can be pretty indifferent towards spy movies. In retrospect, I was referring to your more formal, straight-ahead spy films. The Kingsman films play like a James Bond fever dream and take us to a place where secret agents are more akin to super heroes. There's still a very good chance that many will find Kingsman: The Golden Circle to be too silly and goofy, but discerning viewers will appreciate how the film has the guts to pull at the heart strings one minute and then shoot someone through the heart the next.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle needs to bring a certain female agent back on 4K UHD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains a 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 50 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably blues and reds, and the image is never overly dark or bright. There are some darker scenes, but the image remains well-balanced throughout. The picture is very crisp, which results in impressive detail. The depth works very well, giving a quasi-3D appearance. The Disc carries a Dolby Atmos audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 7.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. From the outset, we are treated to a symphony of engrossing stereo, surround, and subwoofer effects. The opening chase scene shows off the power of the bass effects, and demonstrates how smoothly the sounds move from the front to the rear.

The extras for Kingsman: The Golden Circle are found on the included Blu-ray Disc. "Kingsman: Inside the Golden Circle" is a nine-part featurette which runs nearly two hours. The piece takes us on-set and behind the scenes to explore many facets of the film's production. Vaughn takes us through the development of the sequel and what it was like to take on new characters and challenges. We also hear from the cast and various members of the creative team. This shows us how certain key scenes were shot, as well as giving us a look at the sets, the costumes, and the props. "Black Cab Chaos: Anatomy of a Killer Chase" (13 minutes) provides an in-depth examination of the stunts and work involved in the opening sequence. "Kingsman Archives" contains galleries of "Concept Art" and "Stills". We also get two THEATRICAL TRAILERS for the film.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long