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Somewhere during the nearly two-and-a-half hours of The Golden Circle, the clever, hyper-stylized spy action so smartly tailored in Kingsman just becomes tedious. In his second mission, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) must foil a plot to legalize the world’s illicit drug trade by global kingpin Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore).
As political satire, The Golden Circle falls prey to its own glibness. It is hard not to read this movie and its portrayal of a criminally uncaring president—who is, at the very least, exceptionally well played by Bruce Greenwood—through the lens of the current political climate; that cold dose of reality sucks some of the fun out this wild, subversive ride. The whiz-bang opening car chase-cum-fight scene, paced by Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” might be the movie’s high-water mark.
Writer-director Matthew Vaughn does not lack for visual creativity, and he jams all of his considerable vision into this movie featuring robot watchdogs, a kidnapped Elton John (those gags are the movie’s most consistent), more of Jeff Bridges stuck in cowboy mode, a dancing Channing Tatum (whose prominent trailer placement feels like a bait and switch when Pablo Pascal of “Narcos” appears), a human meat-grinder, 24-carat gold tattoos, the destruction of a massive Bondian chalet, electrified lassos, a lot of Fox News (even in England?) and Mark Strong singing John Denver ditties. The story frame simply does not seem big enough to fill out the filmmaker’s stylish, bespoke conceits. Fans of the first Kingsman certainly get what we expect; strangely enough, something different may have been better.