Review – More Like a Golden Shower (“Kingsman: The Golden Circle”)

The one thing about sequels is… sometimes is best to leave well enough alone. Director/writer Matthew Vaughn, who directed and co-wrote (along with Jane Goldman) the 2014 smash hit, Kingsman: The Secret Service, decided to up their violence quotient, while pretty much recycling their original plot a second time. So much for originality, huh?

*

It’s been a year and Kingsman super-spy, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) has alot on his plate: not only does he still miss his late mentor, Harry (Colin Firth, who was killed in part one), but he’s dating Princess Tilde of Sweden (Hanna Elstrom), the damsel he saved AND he’s just been outrageously pursed by an old Kingsman nemesis, Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft), who apparently has a lethal robotic right arm now!

But dating and nasty adversaries will have to wait as there’s a new villain in town. Meet Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), a psychopathic drug cartel lord, holed up in the middle of the Colombian jungle and living in a makeshift 50’s recreation of a Happy Day’s street-scene, replete with shops, diners, and a bowling alley. Oh, she’s also kidnapped Sir Elton John (yeah, that’s really him!) for her own personal listening pleasure. After she blows-up every Kingsman office in Britain, she makes her diabolical plans known: her world-wide drug distribution (everything from cannabis to cocaine to heroin) has been laced with a deadly toxin that will slowly kill the user… unless her demands are met.

The ego-maniacal and drunk with power POTUS (Bruce Greenwood, playing the prez again) doesn’t care about saving lives (hmmm…), so it’s up to Eggsy and Kingsman tech-support guru, Merlin (Mark Strong) to hook up with their American cousin, the Statesman in Kentucky, USA. After a formidable meeting with Tequila (Channing Tatum) and their tech-guru, Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), they get a shock. Harry is there and alive! HOW he survived is revealed (a bit weird, but it works) and, naturally, he’s got amnesia. Statesman head, Champagne (Jeff Bridges), proposes a joint effort to stop Poppy and find the antidote she says she has.

Harry, after a quick reboot to his brain, gets back to work along with Eggsy and Statesman field agent, Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), and the hunt is on! First in the snowy mountains of Italy, then on Poppy’s home turf in the jungle and that wacky 50’s village of hers. In-between there are some violent fights of bullets, bombs, and some ghastly deaths. If you are familiar with Matthew Vaughn’s signature whiz-bang direction, you are in for a dizzying array of slo-mo, slam-cuts, “bullet-time” camera spinning, and the most ridiculous excuses for defying physics ever!

Writers Vaughn and Goldman have succumbed to the same pitfalls of many sequels; copycatting their own work. Comparing the two movies you have the same elements: same meglo-maniac with a half-human henchman, same massive innocent people in trouble, same extreme bloody body count, same Eggsy with half-naked women, etc. However, with the Statesman addition, the script is padded out to about 20 minutes too long. Disjointed and bloated, unnecessary scenes are just thrown in for… reasons. Add to this the woefully miscasting of Moore as a super-villain, and this sequel just drowns in its own over-achieving.                    

And don’t get me started on ALL the plot holes, the biggest being Harry’s missing eye. With all the combined super nano-technology these guys have at their disposal, they couldn’t have made him a bionic eyeball? Or even a simple glass one? Seriously? Still, I will give points for Vaughn/Goldman coming up with a plausible, if cheeky way of resurrecting Harry from his so-called ‘death’ from the first movie. If there’s going to be a part three (and I hear there IS), I really hope the plot isn’t the same cookie-cutter one as parts one and two. Please!

 

Licence To Kill (1989)

*

Y’know, sometimes even a British super-spy needs help every now and then from the Americans, and James Bond is no exception. In his final role as 007, rugged Timothy Dalton gets down and dirty after his CIA buddy, Felix Leiter, becomes shark bait. Ouch!

It’s Felix’s (David Hedison) wedding day in Florida with Bond as his best man, but duty calls and Felix has a chance to arrest the elusive drug lord, Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi). Through a nifty mid-air airplane/helicopter snagging, Sanchez is caught and Felix gets to the church on time. . .thanks to Bond, James Bond. But being a drug lord means you have accomplices everywhere and Sanchez escapes, but not before killing Felix’s new bride and turning Felix into a partial shark-kabob.

An enraged Bond goes after Sanchez, but is stopped by his boss, “M” (Robert Brown), who demands he drop his personal vendetta and go home to England. But Bond nixes that order and goes AWOL, even though he still gets help from his inventor friend, “Q” (Desmond Llewellyn), and Pam Bouvier (Cary Lowell), a cute CIA agent. All together they plan to take Sanchez out by whatever means necessary, but first Bond must infiltrate his massive drug organization on the Republic of Isthmus. Luckily, Sanchez accepts Bond as his personal body guard after thinking he killed some assassins.

Bond also secretly frames Sanchez’s right-hand man, Milton Crest (Anthony Zerbe) and gets him murdered in a most grisly way. The next enterprise to take down is the fake TV evangelist Professor Joe Butcher (singer Wayne Newton), whose ginormous televised show and compound is actually a front for Sanchez’s cocaine smuggling and money laundering. With the help of Pam, Bond manages to blow the place up, even though he’s made by Sanchez’s lethal henchman, Dario (Benecio DelToro).

Written by Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum, both of whom wrote many of the Bond movies, this was the one of the oddest in the franchise, with it’s very dark and crazy story dealing with drug dealers, sharks, vicious beatings, and televangelists with hardly a shred of the ol’ Bond playfulness and gadgetry.

This hard-core Bond, directed by 007 veteran director John Glen, looks great, but Dalton and Lowell had no chemistry at all, making their partnership awkward to watch. Add to that the very strange Wayne Newton appearance and this movie ranks as one of the more forgettable Bonds out there.   

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