When Kingsman first hit our screens in 2015, my first though was “Oh dear, here we go again. Another action-spy movie that is going to completely predictable and full of clichés that it wouldn’t be worth commenting on”. But what director Matthew Vaughn had created, was simply, brilliant, and now has decided to tackle a much-anticipated sequel. Keeping to the same absurdity that was key to the first films success, I think he has made one of the most entertaining films of the year and certainly a master of making a sequel as good as the original.
Teaming up once again with Jane Goldman, the sequel takes place a year after the events of the first film with Eggsy (Taron Egerton) as one of the most senior Kingsman agents. However, evil doesn’t rest for very long, and soon, a mysterious organisation run by entrepreneur Poopy Adams (Julianne Moore) destroys most of the Kingsman, except for Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong). Their doomsday protocol calls for them to join forces with their American counterpart ‘Statesman’, run by Champ (Jeff Bridges) and agents Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal). With pro-American standards and style, they must find out what Poppy wants and how Harry Hart (Colin Firth) survived the previous film. I’ll admit, there is major predictability in this film and the barrage of cameos don’t really make much sense to me, and some elements of the story are left hanging, but that being said, I struggle to find any action movie this year that is as funny, over-the-top and so, darn cool at stunts and gadgets. It follows that same enthusiasm that made the first film such a breath of fresh air 2 years ago.
Matthew Vaughn isn’t afraid to make a film as ridiculous as this and he certainly isn’t afraid to take a poke at British toffs, American Cowboys, the Trump presidency, Glastonbury, table manners and even the very nature of the spy genre. What people need to understand, is that this is the sort of film that is all about style and Matthew Vaughn has been capable of producing that in his films since the days of Layer Cake (2004). More than that, Kingsman is never completely devoid of any sort of substance or drama that you could mistake this for a Michael Bay film. Taron Egerton has become the sort of action star that the industry needs and still manages to balance Eggsy’s dynamic of being a plebe and a toff. Colin Firth seems to have combined his roles in Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) with his previous outing in Kingsman and Mark Strong does perhaps the most heroic thing I have seen this year. The stand out though has to be Julianne Moore, who brings a giddy school-girl aesthetic to her role as a villain; like Samuel L. Jackson in the previous film, she brings something original to the table. All of the Statesman pack a true American punch to the film, and keep an eye out for Elton John in this film, for he is truly epic in this.
The characters in this, seem to fit in very nicely with the overall style of this film, which is absolutely insane. Like the first film, this doesn’t fail to deliver some of the most over-the-top action and VFX I have seen this year. Ski lifts falling out of the sky, a fast-paced car chase with a London taxi, people being fed into a meat grinder, the Kingsman mansion blowing up and robotic dogs and salon employees, it’s almost as if the writers had a collection of ideas of what to have and what not to have, and used all of them. Coupled with some dynamite VFX shots, you can’t help but cheer for what you see on screen.
That is the trick to understanding how this film works. You are not supposed to take it seriously because it was never meant to be serious. You are simply meant to sit back, relax and enjoy the sight of someone being bisected by an electric whip and listening to the sounds of revolvers shooting people in the face. Mind you, that is not the sound you will be hearing most of all.
Music has always been a very important part of Matthew Vaughn’s films and the Kingsman Sequel is no exception. Collaborators Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson return to bring back the essential themes of the previous film, but add a dash of Jack Daniels to the soundtrack. It is more American than the previous film, almost feels a bit like an epic western if you listen to it. It doesn’t however sacrifice the essence of the original however; it still feels British in some places with epic pieces flowing from scene to scene, with a bit of John Denver thrown in as well. I do however have to stress that the best use of music in this film is a fantastic fight sequence choreographed to Elton John’s Saturday Night. What we have here is a movie that shows how music can make or break action on screen, and in this case, it improves it, massively.
If have to have another complaint about this, and obviously I do, is that this is a 2-hour and 21-minute movie and it does inevitably slowdown in certain sequences, so consistency is an issue. Although consistency is not an issue when it comes to production design. You still get the very British, posh, old-money aesthetic for the Kingsman bases, but this film isn’t limited to Britain. The audience gets to see very American whisky distilleries, the Oval Office of the White House, chillout tents at Glastonbury, evil mountain top bases in the Swiss Alps and the crowning glory, Poppy Land, a stronghold in the middle of Cambodia that pays homage to the levels of style and excess of 1950’s America. Much like the action of this film, it is a fantastic collage of things that everyone can enjoy.
One of the best moments from the first film was perhaps one of the best moments in all of modern action cinema; where Harry kills over 100 people in the church fight in one single shot. The sequel, returning cinematographer George Richmond and editor Eddie Hamilton have pulled off another similar style of action, it may only involve 3 people, but no less brutal and brilliant. Like the first film, the look and pacing of this film is very fast and very edgy and focuses on bringing out the best in action and style of the characters. If you are looking for deeper meaning in cinematography, go watch something else, but if you are looking for something that exploits every second of the action, then please, see this film.
If you are also a fan of the best fashion in film, then you are going to love the sequel even more. It still has the best tailor-made suits you’ll see in film, along with the classiest and profoundly American fashion at hand as well. This film is not a mix of the East-End and Saville Row, this is Saville Row, the Royal Family and modern Cowboys all rolled into one.
I’ll admit, that this film is not perfect and may not be as fresh as the original, but a large part of me simply doesn’t care. When you action this great, music this memorable and a story lifted straight the world of spies and comedy, you just know, you are going to have fun watching it.
I give this film an 8.5/10.