Northwestern Press

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Review: ‘Kingsman’

Friday, October 6, 2017 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is one confusing, entertaining mess of a movie.

On the one hand, you have the charming British cast returning from the original, ”Kingsman: The Secret Service” (2015): Taron Egerton (Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, aka Galahad, a holdover from the Brit Lad culture), Colin Firth (Harry Hart, aka the original Galahad, the suave spy and ever the gentleman), and Mark Strong (Merlin, a gizmo wizard).

Keeping with the over-the-top stunt and stunning casting of the original ”Kingsman: The Secret Service” (which included Michael Caine and Samuel L. Jackson), “The Golden Circle” brings on board Julianne Moore (Poppy Adams, an arch villain with good arches for stiletto heels), Halle Berry (Ginger Ale, a tech-savvy Statesman aide), Channing Tatum (Tequila, a Statesman, Kentucky-based United States counterpart to Kingsman), Jeff Bridges (Champagne “Champ,” Statesman head honcho), and Emily Watson (U.S. President’s Chief of Staff).

Add to this, the bad guys: Pedro Pascal (Whiskey, a Burt Reynolds look-alike who may even out-lasso Wonder Woman), Edward Holcroft (Charlie Hesketh, a Kingsman gone rogue), and Poppy Delevingne (Clara Von Gluckfberg, Charlie’s girl).

And if you want to go way over-the-top, who better than Elton John (as himself), in full-body boa, looking like a rainbow-feathered Big Bird from “Sesame Street”? His piano is grand and so is he.

Matthew Vaughn (“X-Men: First Class,” 2011) is back to direct the sequel, based on the screenplay which he again co-wrote with Jane Goldman, based on the comic book, “The Secret Service,” written by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.

On the other hand, while the original “Kingsman” has its moments (James Bond movies checklist: tuxedos, dialogue with attitude, weapons fetishism, crazy car-chase scenes, exotic locales, lavish homes, beautiful women, and unusual and cruel ends to odd-looking villains), the sequel has more of those moments, albeit even more exaggerated, and a few that are in gobsmacked bad taste (pun intended, if you see the movie). Sometimes, less is more.

“Kingsman” owes a debt to the “Austin Powers” movies (1997, 1999, 2002) for its “cheeky monkey” dialogue, visual gags, and fabulous lair of arch villain Poppy Adams, whose Cambodian-based Poppy Land is a drug lord’s “Jurassic Park” resembling a bizarro Disney theme park attraction.

But the big question, inquiring minds want to know (or at least my inquiring mind wants to know) is: Why is the title “Kingsman,” with a singular “man” and not “Kingsmen,” especially since there seem to be many “Kingsman”? (Movie buffs endlessly debate such trivialities.)

“Kingsman” has its good moments and its very bad moments. The film-makers seem to have thrown whatever idea popped into their heads into the screenplay and up there on the big screen. Some work (chase scenes, jokey asides, fanciful locations), some don’t work (stilted scenes between Moore and Firth and Firth and Egerton, fight scenes choreographed to rock music, and a plot whereby a madmen villain faces off against a national leader with arms at hand.

If you’re having trouble seeing where this movie review is going, imagine this reviewer’s difficulty in determining where “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is going, other than to the top of the box office (with “Kingsman 3” announced).

Fortunately, there are those incredibly well-done car chases (the opening scene is one such incredible display of bravura stunts, driving skill and CGI), breath-taking locales (an Italian Alps ski-slope gondola car that out Bonds Bond), and actors of such consummate skill that they could make the proverbial reading of a phone book sound exciting (especially Colin Firth and Julianne Moore).

We must remember that “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” as was the original, “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” is based on a comic book. It’s a page-turner. There just aren’t that many pages to turn.

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle,”MPAA Rated R (Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.) for sequences of strong violence, drug content, language throughout and some sexual material; Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy; Run time: 2 hrs., 21 mins.; Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox.

Credit Readers Anonymous:“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” was filmed in the United Kingdom and Italy. The soundtrack includes portions of Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)” and “Daniel,” and John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “Annie’s Song.” The character, Merlin, is a John Denver fan.

Box Office,Sept. 29: “It” seemed to be it again, floating up one place, back to No. 1 (which it held two straight weeks after being dethroned by “Kingsman”) with $17.3 million, $291.1 million, four weeks, narrowly keeping Tom Cruise out of a No. 1 opening with “American Made,” opening at No. 2 with $17 million, one week, as “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” slid down two places to No. 3, with $17 million, $66.7 million, two weeks. However, the tallies, as of deadline for the Focus section, indicate a possible three-way tie for No. 1 that’s too close to call.

4. “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” disassembled down one slot, $12 million, $35.5 million, two weeks. 5. “Flatliners” flatlined with $6.7 million, opening. 6. “Battle of the Sexes,” the Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs tennis match biopic, entered the Top 10 with $3.4 million, $4 million, two weeks. 7. “American Assassin” missed three places, $3.3 million, $31.8 million, three weeks. 8. “Home Again” knocked down three places, $1.7 million, $25.1 million, four weeks. 9. “Til’ Death Do Us Part,” $1.5 million, opening. 10. “mother!” headed down four places, $1.4 million, $16.3 million, three weeks.

Unreel,Oct. 6:“Blade Runner 2049,”R: Denis Villeneuve directs Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas, and Dave Bautista in the Science-Fiction Thriller. A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for 30 years. The film revisits the themes of the original “Blade Runner” (1982).

“My Little Pony: The Movie,”PG: Jayson Thiessen directs the voice talents of Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth, Liev Schreiber, and Michael Peña in the Animation Musical Comedy. A dark force threatens Ponyville. The Mane 6 embark on a journey beyond Equestria.

“The Mountain Between Us,”PG-13: Hany Abu-Assad directs Idris Elba, Kate Winslet, Beau Bridges, and Dermot Mulroney in the Adventure Romance. Two strangers, stranded after a plane crash, travel across a snow-covered mountain.

Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes