Directed by Matthew Vaughn; stars Taron Edgerton, Mark Strong, Julianne Moore, Colin Firth, Michael Gamdon, Halle Berry, Elton John, Pedro Pascal, Hanna Alstrom, Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum. 141 mins. Cert. 15.
Taron Egerton, brightly suited and booted, leads the Kingsmen in this second slice of tongue-in-cheek mayhem. When their headquarters is destroyed and most of Kingsman high command assassinated, Eggsy and Merlin uncover an allied spy organisation in the US. The two elite organisations band together to defeat a common enemy – deranged, sugar-sweet, drug dealing mommy, Poppy. Poppy holds court over her mercenaries hidden away deep in the jungle. Her base a deluded burger bar drive-in replete with a Vegas style auditorium featuring star turn, Elton John, held hostage to perform as and when required. Having unleashed a narcotic into the drug-chain, deadly to its users, Poppy demands a ransom from the US President for the antidote.
Taron Edgerton reprises his role as east-end wide boy Eggsy and has managed to capture the attentions of Princess Tilde, daughter of the King of Sweden, though so far has failed to put a ring on her finger. (I guess anything is possible if Prince Harry can date a US actress!) In an ironic twist of fate Tilde, along with millions worldwide, has been infected with the lethal drug leading Eggsy, Merlin, Harry and newcomer Tequila (Channing Tatum) to uncover the antidote and destroy Poppy’s hideaway.
What transpires is plenty of action and tongue-in-cheek humour. Of note is Sir Elton being held hostage who says little but whose pouting expressions of dismay and prima-donna outbursts of ‘I’m f**king Elton John’ are hilarious. Elton is both guarded and protected by Poppy’s two robotic watchdogs who have been programmed not to attack ‘friend’ Elton. Julianne Moore gusto and has immense fun in the role of demented Poppy, a serial mom with a truly vicious streak. One moment she is sweet as pie and a split second later your worst nightmare. See how gleefully she minces a disloyal employee then watches gleefully as his best friend tucks into the man-burger she has freshly cooked.
Director Vaughn assembles a stellar cast (almost a who’s who of Hollywood) and pulls out all the stops to make the ride as thrilling as possible. From the off Eggsy has to battle an assailant in the back of a black cab as they race at breakneck speed through the streets of London. If this has the look and feel of a Bond movie with its demented psychopaths seeking world dominance, high-speed chases, high tech gizmos and global locations (there’s even a visit to Glastonbury) then that’s exactly what it is with Edgerton as 003.5 Bond in training! Great to see Colin Firth resurface as Harry Hart and just hope the excellent Mark Strong’s Merlin survives the explosion to return in the next instalment. If not there’s always Halle Berry as the wonderfully nerdy Ginger. Along with Channing Tatum, Pedro Pascal is eye-catching as duplicitous, lasso-weilding, Whiskey.
The script, written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, carries on the spirit and humour of the first Kingsman and this is as enjoyable a ride. With plenty of action, lots of eye-candy and humour, Kingsman: The Golden Circle provides an entertaining few hours at the local multiplex.