MOVIE REVIEW: New Kingsman flick can’t repeat trick
IN 2014, Kingsman: The Secret Service struck a rich vein of guilty-pleasure gold. Almost 600 million bucks of tickets were sold worldwide on the back of giving audiences something they had never seen before.
The novelty value of watching the previously posh Colin Firth drop his prim'n'proper act to beserkly bash up (and carve up and shoot up) bad dudes just never seemed to wear off.
Unfortunately, that addictively incongruous vibe is nowhere to be felt in the sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle, reducing it swiftly to the ranks of action movie also-rans.
For reasons known only to director Matthew Vaughn, the movie is clearly carrying too much flab, continually gorging itself on empty-calorie filler to the tune of 140 long minutes of running time.
In fact, it is not until just after the one-hour mark has passed that Firth is properly suited up again in the role of Harry, that suavely savage Savile Row spy.
Why the delay, you ask? Put it down to a chronic case of amnesia, which Harry contracted when he was shot in the head (and presumed dead) at the end of the last movie.
While we wait for The Golden Circle to put Harry back into the fray - this time on American soil - all well-dressed, badly-behaved duties are handled by his rookie running mate Eggsy (Taron Egerton).
Unfortunately, spending all that additional time with Eggsy (which includes a beyond-embarrassing visit to the Glastonbury music festival) merely highlights his shortcomings as a leading character.
Egerton is at a complete loss as to how to freshen things up, and you can't exactly feel sorry for him when he's occupying screen time that could have been better used by the three Oscar winners in the support cast.
Julianne Moore plays a psychopathic drug baroness who keeps Elton John as a pet, has one of her henchmen fed into a meat-grinder, and then fries him up into a burger.
Jeff Bridges appears sporadically as the head of Statesman, a US version of the UK Kingsman syndicate, and Halle Berry also drifts in and out of view as his second-in-command.
Meanwhile, Magic Mike himself (Channing Tatum as Statesman Agent Tequila) spends long sections of The Golden Circle twiddling his thumbs.
The production does have its moments when it comes to creatively choreographing extended instances of wide-screen mayhem.
The eclectically kinetic London car chase sequence which opens the new Kingsman is as strong as any tarmac-ripping section of Baby Driver. Unfortunately, this is as good as The Golden Circle is ever going to get.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Stars: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Mark Strong, Julianne Moore.
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Rating: MA 15+
Verdict: 2 stars