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Kingsman: The Golden Circle


Stars: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Pedro Pascal, Edward Holcroft, Hanna Alstrom, Emily Watson, Sophie Cookson, Elton John, Bruce Greenwood, Poppy Delevingne

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Celebrated for putting the C-word in the mouth of then 13-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz in Kick-Ass, screenwriter Jane Goldman joins director Matthew Vaughn to conjure up the comic-book-based screenplay for the inescapable sequel to 2014's Kingsman: The Secret Service.

Result? An overlong, frequently overacted aspirant 007 action thriller whose comic-book origins (Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons) are matched in style by Vaughn's, who delivers a fast, furious and rather too often somewhat fatuous Saturday Morning serial-style show whose admirable special effects and well-used location shooting help compensate for a less-than-credible storyline that all too often comes across as just plain ridiculous (although, to be fair the lines 'I think your story is horse shit!' and 'Spare me the crap!' refer to the plot, not the finished film).

The show kicks off with the destruction of Kingsman's London headquarters by super-evil villainess Moore, leaving agent Egerton to boldly go to the US and join forces with Statesman, America's Kingsman counterpart who hang out in a distillery in Darkest Kentucky.

What follows is a mad mishmash of action, action and rather too often unbelievable action (thanks to special effects that create, among other comic-book creations snarling robot dogs and a magic umbrella wielded in best Steed/Avengers-style by Firth) whose logic makes little sense and which comes across rather better than the material deserves thanks in no small way, I imagine, to Eddie Hamilton's smart editing'

Can Kingsman and Statesman save the world from super-drug dealer Moore who, having used her narcotics to infect Mankind with the deadly 'Dancing Disease', now holds the world to ransom for the antidote to the lethal drugs'?

I won't give away the ending.

(Mind you, only an utter cinema virgin could fail to see the that major threat on offer is not just the destruction of human life, but also the inevitable sequel being signalled).

While it's simply one daffy thing after another, Vaughn keeps the show moving most of the time and is lucky enough to have actors able to keep commendably straight faces in the face of an increasingly silly storyline that features, among other unlikely elements, a lasso that slices people in half.

Setting the story everywhere from Glastonbury, Cambodia (where Moore's ludicrous 1950s small-town-America style headquarters are improbably located), London, Kentucky, Italy and Washington DC (where some US filmgoers may be delighted to learn that Donald Trump is not their President) adds visual impact.

The show gets the performances it deserves.

Moore, (who serves an unfortunate character with a hamburger containing some of the shredded remains of an even more unfortunate character who falls into a giant mincing machine) leaves no piece of scenery un-chewed.

Egerton plays his role without sniggering, Firth returns (shot through the eye and initially believing he is a lepidopterist before Egerton rescues him), Bridges and Berry keep straight faces, Strong gives a strong performance and is almost convincingly credible while comic relief - almost as amusing as haemorrhoids - is left to Elton John who camps it up like crazy in a way that might have made even Kenneth Williams envious.

The film is based on a Marvel comic and frequently matches the source material with dialogue that would be perfect in bubbles on paper but...even so, while it's far from marvellous, the film is destined to do the business with moviegoers looking for action, not intelligence or credibility.

And 007 can relax.

Alan Frank

UK/USA 2017. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour.
141 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 3, Swearing 2.

Review date: 21 Sep 2017