Taron Egerton reprises his role as ‘Eggsy’ in the perfunctorily hilarious and action-packed, yet very R-Rated, sequel ‘Kingsman: The Golden Service‘, based on the comic book series by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn, The Golden Circle picks up where ‘The Secret Service’ left off, in the aftermath of a cataclysmic event that literally saw the heads of thousands of the elite across the globe blown off in a revolutionary wave against a neurological chip preserved for the wealthy to access the internet and make calls for free, thanks to Billionaire Richmond Valentine (played by Samuel L Jackson). Eggsy is quite content and rather cocky having saved the world, albeit humbled by the abrupt death of his mentor, Harry Hart, which affected him more than he’s willing to admit. He took over his agent code name ‘Galahad’ in an effort to elongate Harry’s legacy, though it was commonplace for agents to take over the identity of fallen comrades, also part of respect.
On his way home to his girlfriend, Crown Princess Tilde of Sweden (played by Hannah Alstrom), he gets ambushed by a rather unexpected villain, Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft), who, rather than have his head blown off in the prequel’s events, had his arm and vocal chords obliterated. Predictably, he vowed revenge on the Kingsmen for his fiendish misgivings, and who better than to align with the most successful woman in the world that nobody knows, Poppy Adams (played by Julianne Moore).
You see, Poppy is the head of the Golden Circle, a.k.a Poppy Pharmaceuticals, a clandestine drug-trafficking conglomerate with over $250 billion in annual turn-over, and headquartered in Poppyland, Cambodia, a striking pop-up-ish re-enactment of 1920s America with a backdrop of ancient South-Asian civilizational ruin.
For a woman with access to such funds, it wouldn’t be hard to fathom a cinema, fast food restaurant, ice cream parlour and a host of technologically advanced systems and robots, deep at the heart of the jungle. When her profile comes to light later in the film, it emerges that she was a shunned Harvard professor at one point in her life who was dismissed as mentally unstable, a description which Julianne Moore expertly plays (I loved watching her in the 2001 hit ‘Evolution’, which would show she still has a knack for the quirky as well).
Back to Eggsy: as he wittingly escapes from the grasp of his would-be assassin, he unknowingly compromises the entire Secret Service organisation, leading to incidences that will literally leave your mouth gaping open, among them the death of one of his closest friends, and his dog. Now, together with Merlin (seasoned actor Mark Strong), they must effect the ‘Doomsday Protocol’, which leads them to the bottle of s whiskey bottle from Kentucky, USA. You’ll get it when you watch it.
The darkest of hours ends up illuminating decades of secrecy that the Kingsmen have American counterparts, cousins as you would have it, in the form of the Statesmen. We’re introduced to the physically gifted Agent Tequila (Channing Tatum), the technology whiz, Ginger (played by Halle Berry), wealthy yet level-headed Agent Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and the Head of Statesman, Champagne ‘Champ’ (Jeff Bridges). Honestly the film ended up being more star-studded than I had ever anticipated, but not overwhelmingly so.
Now in the States, and with additional resources to help them complete the mission, the Kingsmen and the Statesmen join forces to uncover who obliterated the former’s operations and how to unravel the mystery of the Golden Circle, as Poppy laced everything in her entire production line with a fatal toxin, in order to leverage legalising her trade, in exchange for a global anti-dote that will save millions.
With a runtime of close to two and a half hours, you seldom realise how fast time has flown by, as things are kept fast-paced, shocking (sometimes borderline grotesque), and fun. Each of the actors pulled their weight extremely well, resulting in an adventure that scours the countryside of Kentucky, the streets of London, the jungles of Cambodia and the heights of the Italian Alps. It was peculiar though seeing Halle Berry tackle a role that, while it was nowhere close to being lead in such a huge production, was as crucial to its outcome.
I honestly think the 50% Rotten Tomatoes rating the film has already received is not a true reflection of the brilliance of the production: it’s an amalgamation of James Bond, Deadpool and the Transformers all wrapped into a ball of humour, dunked into a basket of high production quality value with the tenets of British courtesy and American cockiness.
‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ is screening in Kenyan cinemas from September 22nd* 2017