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szdaily -> Movies
Kingsman: The golden circle
    2017-October-27  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Elton John Director: Matthew Vaughn

THIS sequel to 2015’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service” boasts more stars and a larger scope, but director Matthew Vaughn’s live-action comic-book aesthetic has clear limitations that no amount of calculated cleverness can remedy. Colin Firth and Taron Egerton reprise their roles as suave secret agents, although it’s telling that this tiresome spectacle’s most memorable performance comes from Elton John in a delightfully super-bitchy cameo.

A year after the first film, Eggsy (Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) are guiding the Kingsman agency after the death of beloved spy Harry Hart (Firth). But after a series of coordinated missile strikes kill off everyone else in the agency, Eggsy and Merlin retreat to Kentucky. There they meet up with a sister organization known as Statesman, which helps them combat Poppy (Julianne Moore), a twisted villain who wants to wipe out most of humanity by poisoning the planet’s illicit drug supply.

Based on the comics by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, the “Kingsman” movies position themselves as a snide anti-James Bond, cranking up the graphic violence and sexual frankness while still cultivating 007’s air of sophistication. Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman don’t deviate too far from The Secret Service’s formula, although this sequel is more ambitious, introducing a whole slew of new characters who work with Eggsy and Merlin — not to mention bringing Harry back from the dead, thanks to some high-tech gadgetry.

The bigger canvas only serves to highlight the franchise’s weaknesses, which include a raft of drab heroes. Egerton in particular remains an underwhelming presence, even when Eggsy is meant to be mourning his mentor Harry or trying to make his relationship with the beautiful Tilde (Hanna Alström) work, despite having to sleep with another woman in order to get critical information. Thank goodness, then, for Harry’s return, as Firth effortlessly exudes an elegant swagger and brings a little wit to proceedings, happily sending up his stuffed-shirt persona with each lethal hand-to-hand combat scene.

As he did in “The Secret Service,” Vaughn stages his “Golden Circle” action sequences with heavy stylization, gladly acknowledging their artificiality so that characters can punch, kick, shoot and even seemingly fly through the air without worrying about the laws of physics. There is a certain appeal to this extreme approach, but the gimmick gets old over time — particularly when Vaughn insists on making epic fight scenes look like one long, unbroken shot when it’s obvious they’ve been heavily finessed through digital manipulation.

As Poppy grows increasingly mentally unstable, Moore overdoes the villain’s smiley lunacy, which keeps her from seeming particularly menacing. Perversely, the filmmakers try to inject some social commentary by using her plan as a way to highlight the idiocy of America’s drug wars, suggesting that the U.S. government is, in its own way, as callous and evil as Poppy. Provocative though it may be, in a movie with so little brains, it’s impossible to take seriously.

Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges are both wasted playing members of Statesman’s good-ole-boys agency, while Halle Berry does what she can as the team’s nerdy tech expert. Surprisingly, the man who steals the film is Elton John, who plays himself. Polly has kidnapped John, forcing him to play concerts just for her, and his every foul-mouthed, drama-queen utterance hints at the sort of cheekily over-the-top extravaganza that “The Golden Circle” could have been.

The movie is now being screened in Shenzhen. (SD-Agencies)

 

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