Kingsman: The Golden Circle - Cartoonish calamity abounds in this bland Bond imitation
Start as you mean to go on.
Director Matthew Vaughn's high-octane spy caper sequel opens with a digitally-enhanced bang: an outlandish fight sequence inside a London taxi, aptly choreographed to Prince's foot-stomping anthem Let's Go Crazy. The black cab careens through nighttime streets while metal and glass explode in de rigueur slow motion, punches connect and somersaults defy gravity.
"Let's get nuts," shrieks Prince.
Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman heartily concur.
Over the next two hours, they resurrect characters, who clearly perished in the first film, transform a cable car into a waltzer fairground ride and mince up bumbling henchmen for the deranged villain's homemade burgers. Kingsman: The Golden Circle quickly accelerates into the same preposterous groove as its 2015 predecessor, which introduced us to a secret fraternity of impeccably tailored British agents. Vaughn and Goldman dilute the repugnant traits of the first film and leave us with a high-tempo exercise in gizmo-laden blandness that won't shake or stir fans of the Bond franchise and its imitators.
The sole zinging addition to this expensive cocktail is Elton John, playing a deliciously potty-mouthed exaggeration of himself. Council estate hero Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is slowly coming to terms with the death of Kingsman mentor Harry (Colin Firth), supported by Swedish girlfriend Tilde (Hanna Alstrom).
Their joy is extinguished when drugs cartel kingpin Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), mastermind of a new world order called The Golden Circle, razes the Kingsman headquarters and terminates the serving agents. Eggsy and technical support guru Merlin (Mark Strong) emerge unscathed from the rubble.
Retribution begins in a Kentucky distillery, which is a front for Kingsman's swaggering Transatlantic counterparts, Statesman.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is an exhausting blitzkrieg of hyper-stylised mayhem that squanders new additions to the cast.
Logic is repeatedly sacrificed at the altar of cartoonish calamity.
Vaughn knows how to land blows in dizzying skirmishes but the tender emotional moments, including a heartfelt rendition of John Denver and a tepid romance between Eggsy and his Swedish princess, fail to connect.