“How do I look?” Enquires a dapper Harry (Colin Firth as British as ever) in his sharp suit and new custom eye (literally – he only has one) glasses.
“Like some faggot looking for an eye fucking”, drawls a redneck itching for a fight.
The first Kingsman film wasn’t exactly subtle, and you’ll be pleased, or maybe you won’t be, to hear its sequel continues that tradition.
Barely a minute old, we enter the first action sequence which is a frenetic car chase through London’s West End culminating in the Serpentine in Hyde Park, one of many doffs of the bowler hat to the James Bond franchise. Indeed, even Rosa Klebb is referenced early on.
An enemy from the past resurfaces to finish off the Kingsman once and for all by teaming up with Poppy Adams (a delightfully insane Julianne Moore) and her Golden Circle gang as they plan to hold the world to ransom by unleashing a virus which targets drug users. She alone has the antidote which she’ll relinquish if drugs are legalised. Simple. However, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) survive the attack and team up with their cousins from across the pond, Statesman.
Here you meet Tequila (a sadly under-used Channing Tatum), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal auditioning for the Burt Reynolds part in the Smokey and the Bandit remake), Ginger (a hardly in it Halle Berry wearing glasses to illustrate she’s Merlin’s equivalent) and their boss, Champ (Jeff Bridges harrumphing and mumbling his way through his dialogue as he did in Crazy Heart).
The characters take a back seat to the driving force of the film, the action. Matthew Vaughan keeps it fresh, energetic and exciting with what appears to be a single camera swerving and swooping its way through the fight scenes and set pieces to triumphant effect. Played against a succession of ironic pop songs, a country rendition of Cameo’s Word Up is particularly memorable and Merlin taking on John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads manages some poignancy amongst the mayhem, it’s almost impossible to not get caught up in the glorious ludicrousness of it all.
Bruce Greenwood pops up as the suitably smarmy American President (a part he also played in National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets), and it would’ve been nice to have seen him play the character with a bit more edge, rather than for laughs. But, if it was laughs you wanted, then look no further than Elton John, playing himself. Yep, you read that correctly. He’s hilarious and it just goes to show that Wednesday’s alright for fighting.
Taron Egerton’s Eggsy is an action hero for the Snapchat generation. He effortlessly combines his working-class roughness with the smoothness and suavity instilled in him by Colin Firth’s charming, English gent Harry, he looks damn good in a suit and pulls off the action scenes with confidence and style. Egerton and Firth work brilliantly together and the film shines when the two are blasting their way through the bad guys.
Accompanying the onscreen delights is a majestically triumphant score by Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson. Their soaring strings and heroic horns make a rousing and rip-roaring addition to the action. Movie scores are often overlooked, but this one is so in your face it’s almost impossible to ignore.
As enjoyable as it is, this film is 20 minutes too long. Harry recovering from his amnesia could’ve been sped up, and the whole Glastonbury sequence was totally unnecessary, crude and left a sour taste (reminiscent of the end gag in the first film), even if you did get to see an awful lot of the beautiful Clara (Poppy Delevinge).
With a third Kingsman film in the works, Matthew Vaughan has a chance to make amends for the small failures in this instalment, but I imagine he’s having so much fun making them he probably won’t even care.