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Kingsman: The Golden Circle – ★ ★ ★ ★ Theatrical Review

Kingsman: Golden Circle


Is there a difference between an action-comedy and a comedy-action movie?  Last night I watched Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and while I really enjoyed it, it did not live up to the first film.  The first Kingsman movie was more action with comedy mixed in, the second one was a lot heavier on the comedy.  What was formerly tongue in cheek nods became over the top, bordering on silly and juvenile.  Kingsman: The Golden Circle had quite a different tone than Kingsman: The Secret Service.  I previously compared Kingsman to the different eras of the James Bond films and I know the Kingsman films were created initially because the writers and director noticed how serious films in the spy genre had become, so maybe this tonal shift was intentionally done to mimic how the Bond films changed as they transitioned from Connery to the later Moore films.  Octopussy could have been a really good film, but Roger Moore’s Bond ends up running around foiling the bad guys dressed as a clown…


The film starts off pretty much at top speed, with Eggsy (Taron Egerton) involved in a car chase and fight pitting the new Galahad against failed recruit Charlie (Edward Holcroft) from the last film.  Yes, Charlie miraculously survived the mountaintop battle where Merlin activated the chips in all of Valentine’s cronies to save the world, but now he has a cybernetic arm and is working for The Golden Circle, the largest drug cartel in the world.  The Golden Circle is run by Poppy (Julianne Moore) who is tired of living in seclusion away from the prying eyes of the law.  She wants to legalize the drug trade around the world so she can be recognized as the successful, legitimate businesswoman she is. They’ve poisoned their own drug supply creating a plague known as “Blue Rash” and will release the antidote worldwide when the president of the United States legalizes drugs.  The Golden Circle need to eliminate Kingsman (or should that be Kingsmen?) so the plan will succeed.  Unfortunately the president wants all the drug users in the world to die, so he can win the war on drugs, and is just stringing Poppy (and the world along).  With the Kingsman’s headquarters destroyed, and all agents except Galahad and Merlin (Mark Strong) killed, they have to follow their doomsday protocol which leads them to Kentucky, home of Statesman (or is that Statesmen?).  Statesman is the American version of Kingsman, and instead of their codenames being knights, they’re drinks.  Eggsy and Merlin arrive at Statesman and are attacked by “Tequila” (Channing Tatum) who thinks they’re there to rescue the lepidopterist, a man who was clearly an agent for some organization, but has lost his memory after they rescued him from a church riot where he had suffered a gunshot to the head…


I was really glad to see that Colin Firth was back as Harry Hart, and not just in a cameo or flashback, but I really wish they hadn’t shown him in the trailers at all.  It could have been a great surprise, and a great reveal, but apparently someone in marketing doesn’t like giving surprises to the audience.  The two organizations team up and after Harry is found and his memory is restored, they battle Poppy’s bad guys across the globe in search of her headquarters and the antidote.  The action comes fast and furious and the stunts, gun-play and fight sequences seek to top those in the previous film (which were pretty high to begin with).


I will admit that The Golden Circle wasn’t as good as The Secret Service.  The story was strong enough and the action was impressive, and overall the film was very entertaining, but it was not on the same level as the first one.  It had very big shoes to fill and expectations to meet, and it came close, but was not without its flaws.  It seemed like there were a few too many “big names” getting in on the action given the success of the first film.  Jeff Bridges played Champagne, or “Champ”, the “Arthur” of Statesman, Halle Berry as Ginger Ale was their “Merlin” and you had Channing Tatum dropping in to be affected quickly by Poppy’s virus.  Of the big name actors, Halle Berry had the most significant amount of screen time, and her character wasn’t involved in any of the action scenes.  There clearly will be a third Kingsman movie, I just hope they don’t water it down like other franchises have by filling it with cameos and stars in small, filler roles.  All that aside, I did love how they worked Elton John into the story.  Poppy had kidnapped Elton John while Samuel L. Jackson’s Valentine had been kidnapping and recruiting celebrities during the events of the first film.  She figured his kidnappings were the perfect cover for one of her own, and she now had Sir Elton prisoner to perform for her whenever she wanted.  Elton John was hilarious in the film; getting some fight scenes some comedy scenes, the obligatory musical number, and he delivered what is probably one of the best jokes of the entire film.


Because of how much I enjoyed the first film, I wanted to see the sequel as soon as possible and that means a trip to the theatre, and I’m glad that I did.  I went with a friend and it was nice to have someone to discuss it with afterwards and to share the laughs and the whole experience with.  We’re not prudes by any stretch of the imagination, but we did both notice how the language was amped up compared to the first film.  We also noticed that we were the only ones laughing at a lot of things too.  Perhaps our humour is heightened compared to the rest of the audience, or perhaps our senses of humours are just a lot more twisted than the audience.  My friend said she overheard someone muttering something about not getting two and a half hours of their life back as they were leaving, which kind of made us laugh.  The comment seemed to come from a very laugh free area of the theatre.  You know, regardless of what they did, they’d never get those two and a half hours back anyway.  They could have taken a nap, went for dinner, killed a dragon, at the end of it those two and a half hours would still be gone.  I enjoyed the night out, and wouldn’t have wanted to spend those two and a half hours any other way….

Bottom Line: I was a little surprised at how the film wrapped up, I really expected it to end with Harry becoming the new Arthur.

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Miss Sloane – ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

Miss Sloane


Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is a powerful, workaholic D.C. lobbyist who uses every trick in the book to achieve her goals.  But her impressive success record, is on the line when she switches sides and leaves one agency to work for another. She fights for the causes she believes in, and the causes she believes she can win for.  Originally she and her team were selected by her boss (Sam Waterston) to fight for gun activists and prevent a bill from being passed, but she is approached by the owner of a smaller, far less prestigious agency (Mark Strong) to fight against her former firm and fight for the gun control bill.  Bringing some of her team with her and joining her new team the lies, deceit, back room dealings and shenanigans of lobbying and political intrigue unfold brilliantly on the screen before us.


Wow, this was an incredible film.  It clearly had a great ensemble cast but Jessica Chastain stood out and was simply fantastic.  She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance, but sadly overlooked at the Oscars.  I’d say that her performance here was every bit as good and as worthy as her previous Oscar nominations for The Help and Zero Dark Thirty.  At first I was a little leery of the film’s runtime of 2 hours 10 minutes, but it was paced perfectly and there wasn’t a wasted minute or slow scene on the screen.  There were twists and turns as you would expect, but just when I though I had Miss Sloane figured out, she bobbed and weaved away from my expectations with tremendous results.  The climax of the film was definitely something I did not see coming, and I really do love that about this film, and films in general.  I love to be surprised when I watch movies, which hasn’t happened a whole lot lately, so Miss Sloane was a special treat.


Bottom Line: A very interesting look at the complex system that is lobbying in the United States.  The film isn’t really as pro gun or anti gun as you might think, rather it’s all about the corruption and dishonesty of politics.  The film could have been arguing about the MacGuffin bill or Johnson rods and been just as effective.

Kingsman: The Secret Service – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Theatrical Review

Kingsman: The Secret Service5.0 Stars


A rare theatrical review!  That’s right, I went to the cinema to watch this one.  I remember seeing the trailer for Kingsman a long time ago, well it seems like a long time ago.  I can’t remember when but I do know that the film’s release date did get pushed back for some reason, which actually made me want to see it even more.   I was not disappointed, as this was an extremely fun fun film from director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class).


I don’t know if I can really compare Kingsman to anything else I’ve ever seen.  It was very cool and suave, so it was part Connery Bond.  It had incredible gadgets and explosions, so it was part Moore Bond.  It had plenty of tongue in cheek humour, so it was part Austin Powers…well, it wasn’t that silly, the humour really reminded me more of the Roger Moore films again.  It seemed as though the film used just about every spy movie cliche and trope at it’s disposal, but it used them properly with a wink and a nod to the films of the past.


A troubled youth who has fallen in with the wrong crowd is recruited for an ultra secret spy agency by Galahad (Colin Firth) the man who recruited his late father for the same organization.  Eggsy (Taron Egerton) isn’t the rich kid like the rest of the recruits, but he is more skilled and has the street sense they sometime lack.  Trained by Merlin (Mark Strong), who is the organization’s “Q”, Eggsy finds friendship some of his fellow recruits, such as Roxy (Sophie Cookson) and friction with others, including Arthur (Michael Caine), the head of the organization.  When a global warming scientist (Mark Hamill) is kidnapped and a Kingsman is killed in the rescue attempt, the trail begins to lead to a megalomaniac industrialist (Samuel L Jackson) who as close to a super villain as you could hope in his plan for world domination.


A lot of the film was very predictable, but that just made you love it more I think.  I would not have thought of Firth as an action film star, but he was incredible throughout the film, whether it was a fight scene or being a fine English gentleman.  Jackson on the other hand, was an absolutely natural choice who played it up with gusto, stealing his scenes at every opportunity.  I don’t think I really could find a single fault with the way the film came across.  As I was watching it though I had to laugh at a few scenes where our heroes engage in a shootout, using a gun that seems to have an endless supply of bullets without reloading.  This may have been a goof, but it also could have been yet another nod to those films that paved the way. Lots of action, lots of quick humour, and a light nod to the past, Kingsman: The Secret Service is certainly one I’d recommend.


Bottom Line: Clearly everything was set up to make this a franchise or at least have some sequels, and hopefully we do get some more.  I can’t wait to pick this one up on Blu Ray to check out the special features, and revisit the world of the Kingsman.

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