I blame my cat for this movie. Not for making it, mind you, for the fact that I ended up watching it when I had zero intentions of ever viewing this flick.
See, here’s the thing: this is a sequel and I never watched the first movie. Nor do I want to after subjecting my eyeballs and puddin’ noggin to this poopapalooza of jumbled up flash. But there’s my cat of ginormous girthness—a force of nature that simply will not be denied.
To understand what I mean, let me first set the stage:
This isn’t just any cat, this is 15lbs of chonk and snaggletoothed claws. Once Oliver—AKA Ollie, AKA The Wombat, AKA OMG My Back—climbs up and sprawls on you, that’s it, day over until his dagger-tipped weight decides to move.
Which it won’t for a very, very long time.
Now, admittedly, part of this is my own fault. In a fit of failed foreshadowing, I lost all situational awareness and failed to ensure that the TV remote was somewhere within reach before Fatzilla settled his hash. In my defense, though, I was slightly distracted by the tinier of our two fair kitties—Sumi, my 4lbs, 4-month-old kitten, 100% sweet-evil in the best of all possible ways—who, at the time, was in danger of being pancaked by Big-Big Ollie and his big-big ass.
I intervened to save the kitteh, and by the time peace returned to the universe, my fate was already sealed. So I watched Kingsman: The Golden Circle—not proud of it, wasn’t even sure I wanted to admit it, to be honest—and now I’m here to tell all of you why you should never, ever waste your time on this flick.
Note: It bugs the crap out of me that it’s Kingsman and not Kingsmen. I mean, this is an entire organization, not just one guy, so why??? No, no, seriously. Someone please explain. Also…
Disclaimer: Turns out Pedro Pascal has a part in this movie—that was it’s only saving grace. Only. Saving. Grace.
So, buckle-up, little buckaroos, there’s ten miles of bad road ahead.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle Plot
(Which is bad, bad, very bad)
After their headquarters are destroyed, the surviving members of the Kingsman—
There’s that super annoying singularity again
—an elite, secret British organization—seeks out an allied spy organization in the United States known as the Statesman—
Also super annoying and similarly singular in presentation
—so they can team up against the Golden Circle: a crime syndicate cum drug cartel cum vaudevillian clown college led by the very Harley Quinn-esque Poppy Adams.
Side Note: The movie is basically a Spy Kids version of James Bond with a heavy overlay of sexual innuendo (without any actual sex) and gratuitous swearing that really makes the entire thing feel like it was written, produced and directed by a trio of 12-year-old boys. Either that, or it started out as a kids’ movie—with all the flash-bang ridiculous and poor plotting you’d expect—and then someone decided they needed to broaden the target audience and added in the ‘adult content’ later to kinda, sorta pretend it was really a movie for adults.
What resulted is a monstrosity of grossly epic proportions.
This movie… honestly, it’s a total mess. Not just bad, but clippity-clip, bang-bang bad. Imagine, if you will, that someone spliced together 2 hours’ worth of TicToc videos in somewhat random order of only tangentially related content. That’s the closest I can come to describing this patchwork nightmare of nonsensical cinema. I mean, okay, yeah, they’re supposed to be super spies with all the high-tech toys that money can buy, but the characters, the plotting, it’s all so… cartoonish, and juvenile, and over-the-top that I just found myself rolling my eyes all the time. This could’ve worked, maybe, if they’d focused on making it camp and fun, but Kingsman: The Golden Circle just tries too hard to be cool and ends up completely missing the mark.
Related Side Note: My eyeballs hurt. A lot. And I’m pretty sure my IQ dropped a full ten points as a direct result of viewing this flick.
(Which is surprisingly good considering how amazingly bad the movie is)
Taron Egerton (Best known as… I don’t know. Never heard of him before. There’s like 9 Fast and Furious movies now so let’s just say he was in one of those.) as Eggsy Unwin: Street-tough turned super spy turned arm candy. Talks like a tough-guy, dresses like a dandy, fan of dogs and martinis and, I can only assume, mani-pedis in his spare time.
Colin Firth, (Best known as the King in The King’s Speech) as Galahad: Eggsy’s formerly-dead mentor who became undead due to science but never regained his lost eyeball. Also part-time lepidopterist.
Mark Strong (Best known for…honestly, being that British guy who you don’t at all expect to be British until he opens his mouth) as Merlin: Statesman spy, gets all blowed up by a landmine while singing Country Roads, probably still doesn’t know it’s not about Kentucky.
Julianne Moore (Best known as President Coin from The Hunger Games movies) as Poppy Adams: Uber rich yet idiotic drug kingpin. Attempts to expand her empire and grow her brand by ruining it. Enjoys making cheeseburgers out of failed flunkies.
Channing Tatum (Best known as Mike from Magic Mike XXL) as Tequila: Statesman agent and resident man-whore. One of the first to go down with the Bad Candy Taint.
Pedro Pascal (Best known for, well it’s a three-way tie between Oberyn Martell from Game of Thrones, Javier Pena from Narcos, and The Mandalorian from The Mandalorian) as Whiskey: The ‘of course we’ve gotta have one’ American bad guy who’s masked as a good guy and secretly just wants revenge. Also a dead ringer for Smokey and the Bandit era Burt Reynolds. See?
Other names of note in this movie (because I got lazy and didn’t want to think of fake bios for them all:
- Halle Berry
- Michael Gambon
- Jeff Bridges
- Bruce Greenwood
- Poppy Delevingne
- Sophie Cookson
- Edward Holcroft, and
- Of course, the most sequined and bedazzled Elton John
Quite the cast, eh? Amazing how you can pay all that money for all those names and still end up with a movie that is patently terrible in every imaginable way.
Budget & Box Office Info:
- Release Date: 24 September 2017
- Budget: $104M (Right there, you should start asking questions. I’m guessing ~$100M of that budget went toward actor salaries, which they spent a whopping $4M total on the script, sets, etc. And it shows).
- Box Office Sales: $410M—HOW? Who watched this movie and recommended it to so many people that it actually MADE MONEY?????
Sequels & Crossovers:
Unfortunately, yes. There’s supposedly a third Kingsman movie coming (no release date or title revealed as yet, and since this movie had no discernible plot to speak of, I’m guessing that one won’t either) as well as a prequel—The King’s Man—that is coming out this year (2020). There was also apparently a video game released in conjunction with Kingsman: The Golden Circle that was so overwhelmingly well-received that they shut the entire thing down in less than a year.
The Story (in a Nutshell)
Previously, on that other Kingsman movie I don’t ever want to see…
A street-smart, rough and tumble guy named Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin is drafted into an elite British spy organization (for reasons… I think they mentioned his father, blah-blah-blah, whatever), proves his mettle, sees his mentor, Galahad, get killed, takes up his mentor’s spy name, and ends up dating Tilde, Crown Princess of Sweden… who’s basically just a bottle-blond British girl—nothing at all ever felt Swedish about this chick in the movie and she mostly just prances around being the token hottie who has no purpose.
So, life is good for Galeggsy: he’s got his chick, his dog, a nice pad and a cushy job with the Kingsman.
Ugh. Did you read that sentence? Do you see how awkward it is having to refer to AN ENTIRE GROUP OF PEOPLE in the singular???
Anyway, everything’s on the up and up, until a bad guy from Galeggsy’s past named Charlie Hesketh—a Kingsman wash-out with a robotic arm—tries to kill him, and after crashing his tricked-out spy car to shake him, Galeggsy bebops off to spy HQ, leaving Charlie’s severed robotic arm behind.
Which, of course, is plot fail Number 1: This guy’s supposed to be super smart, specially trained and part of an elite organization but he leaves a high tech, animatronic arm behind that has demonstrated it can do all sorts of weird and nefarious things all on its own and thinks, ‘Gee. That’ll be just fine. Pip-pip-cheerio and where’s the tea?’.
Well, of course it’s not fine, and of course the arm hacks into the Kingsman network via the spycar, and of course Charlie is working for Poppy the drug kingpin who uses the Kingsman’s own database to locate, target and destroy every last one of their offices—and all of the people inside said offices—with missiles.
I mean, really, what else would you expect an evil animatronic arm to do?
The Rest of It
(Spoiler alert: Kingsman: The Golden Circle gets worse)
So all of the Kingsman but Galeggsy and his colleague, Merlin—yep, being British they went with the whole Knights of the Round Table naming convention thing—who promptly decide to get drunk and end up in Lexington, Kentucky at a bourbon distillery looking for an American counterpart organization known as the Statesman.
I need to pause here and point something out: The British arrival in Kentucky is accompanied by the strains of Country Roads playing in the background, a song which every American out thereand anyone who actually listens to the lyricsknows is actually about West Virginia not Kentucky. Even worse, they keep using this songover and over again in the movie and remain oblivious to the fact that it’s not actually the national anthem of the United States.
Goddammit, people! Kentucky and West Virginia are not interchangeable and Country Roads is not applicable to every goddamn state that has a tree!
Okay. Got that out of my system. Moving on.
Unlike the prim and proper, well-heeled and suited Brits, the Americans are, of course, rude, crude, uncouth and very hickish—basically, the stereotypical American as viewed through a British lens, right down to the boots, jeans, cowboy hats, rodeo-sized belt buckles and overly thick Southern accent.
Also, there are lassos. So many, many lassos.
Also, also, all the Statesman spies are named after drinks/alcohol, because… yeah, that’s obviously what an American spy organization would do.
Also, also, also, the Statesman have been caring for Original Galahad (AKA, Old Dirty Galahad, AKA Presumed Dead Galahad, because he got shot through the eyeball by Samuel L. Jackson in the last movie) only ODG doesn’t remember being a super spy, he thinks he’s a lepidopterist.
Because, ya know, shot in the eyeball and brain damage and stuff.
Side Note: This movie is 50% flashbacks to the first movie, so the sequel is really only half a movie. I wanna say that’s why it sucks, but I think it would both suck and blow if it was an actual full-length movie and not a 50/50 flashback and new plot movie.
Okay, so to speed through a lot of set-up and pointless side trips, I’m going to summarize a lot of the movie:
Drug lord Poppy Adams is extremely successful at selling her crackerjack smack and consequently very rich. So rich she owns a 1950s-themed jungle hideout full of landmines, hired henchmen, robot guard dogs, and one kidnapped Elton John (actually played by Elton John) who she keeps around as her bitch. What she isn’t and desperately wants to be is famous—actually, infamous—so, to wit, she hatches a really stupid plan: poison her chemical delightfulness so that everyone who uses it slowly and horribly dies and use that as leverage to convince the world to make drug use legal.
…Who the hell wrote this? Who the hell thought that was a ‘cool’ and ‘mindblowing’ idea? More importantly, why the hell did they think the entire world could come together in THREE GODDAMN DAYS to save a bunch of casual and hardcore funky-junk users?
OMG. WHY DOES THIS MOVIE SUCK SO HARD.
Also, ya know what? It only gets worse from here. That’s right. MEGA-WORSE.
Around the world, people start contracting a strange, blue-veined virus that—you guessed it!—is Stage 1 of Poppy’s Special Poison, including Tequila (a Statesman agent—ironically a male agent played by Channing Tatum) and Galeggsy’s girlfriend, Tilde. Rather than give in to Poppy’s demands, the American President decides to let all the druggies die, but our brave heroes can’t have that (although, Galeggsy really doesn’t seem to care about anyone but Tilde with her sweet, sweet (not at all) Swedish delights). So, Galeggsy and Merlin reboot ODG’s head to get him thinking Kingsman again, team up with a Statesman agent named Whiskey, locate Poppy’s secret mountain antidote lab in Italy, break in, steal a sample, get ambushed by Golden Circle thugs and lose the sample, shoot Whiskey in the head because they think he’s a traitor and return to square one.
Bupkis. Nada. Completely useless. Absolutely no progress made.
Somehow they figure out the location of Poppy’s jungle HQ—which inexplicably resembles a 1950s era mid-western downtime—and head there to secure the antidote formula from the source. Meanwhile, back at Statesman HQ, they use their high-tech medical hoozits to revive Whiskey, who immediately sets off after them.
Blah-blah-blah, stupid-stupid-stupid, Merlin steps on a landmine while singing Country Roads, Galeggsy and ODG fight robot dogs—with Elton John’s help—corner Poppy, get the laptop with the antidote, and… she accidentally dies of an overdose.
Done, right? Phew! At least we don’t have to—
GODDAMMIT THERE’S MORE.
In one more useless plot twist—well, not twist, exactly, more like ‘saw that coming from a mile away’—Whiskey rolls in with a tale of woe about how his family got caught in the middle of a drug war and killed, and now he’s here to stop them from distributing the antidote because he agrees with Mr. President: kill all the druggies and you kill the drug trade.
They fight, Whiskey takes a header into an industrial meat grinder, the antidote is synthesized and everyone is saved.
Oh, and Galeggsy marries his (fake, fake, so very fake) blond princess and lives happily ever after.
(Which took a while to pull together since my brain was initially mush)
This movie left me with a very confusing message about recreational drug use. The American approach seemed to be, ‘Kill ‘em all! Damn the torpedoes and the drug war by letting all the drug users die!’, while the Brits were more like, ‘Let’s not be hasty. Drugs aren’t really that bad, after all, and we should probably hear the ego-maniacal drug lord out because we can’t have a world with zero drugs. We need a few around to have fun, pip-pip-cheerio bollocks.’ So, I guess drugs are okay, and drug users are okay, and even drug dealers are okay, it’s just drug dealers who distribute bad junk and turn people into hamburger patties that aren’t okay. Or something…
Also, despite having actual Elton John in the movie, not a single Elton John song was sung. Not sure if Elton refused, they couldn’t afford the music rights, or if they thought it was just too obvious to have actual Elton John actually sing an actual Elton John song, but the closest we got was a few kitsche references.
Also, also and related, I kept wondering if that really was Elton John since he never sang and seemed a tad more… portly than I remembered him being. Yup, real deal. Gotta wonder why they bothered…
Overall Rating of Kingsman: Golden Circle:
- Bad Moving Rating: 1 (out of 5)
- Regular Movie Rating: 0.5 (out of 5)
According to IMDB, there were two other movies released in 2017 that also included John Denver’s Country Roads: Alien: Covenant and Logan Lucky. Neither of those movies were set in West Virginia either…
BTW—Logan Lucky was actually surprisingly entertaining, so you should go watch it. Adam Driver is fantastic!
J.B. Rockwell is a New Englander, which is important to note because it means she’s (a) hard headed, (b) frequently stubborn, and (c) prone to fits of snarky sarcasticness. As a kid she subsisted on a steady diet of fairy tales, folklore, mythology augmented by generous helpings of science fiction and fantasy. As a quasi-adult she dreamed of being the next Indiana Jones and even pursued (and earned!) a degree in anthropology. Unfortunately, those dreams of being an archaeologist didn’t quite work out. Through a series of twists and turns (involving cats, a marriage, and a SCUBA certification, amongst other things) she ended up working in IT for the U.S. Coast Guard and now writes the types of books she used to read. Not a bad ending for an Indiana Jones wannabe..
J.B. also writes a once monthly Bad Movie Mayhem review for Sci-Fi & Scary.