One of the simplest ways that I rate a movie is by how much I want to see it again after watching it the first time.
Kingsman: The Secret Service passed this with flying colors, as I watched it at least twice more. On watching Kingsman: The Golden Circle, however, I went and re-watched Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation instead.
That’s not to say that The Golden Circle is terrible, however. The movie manages to deliver some great eye-candy, taking the action sequences from the first movie and ramping them up even more. But that’s about it for improvement from the original movie.
While it never totally ventures into the realm of bleah, The Golden Circle just feels like it’s banking too much on the formula and success of the first movie. Not necessarily a bad thing, but they never seem to pull off anything really good. One really can’t help but compare to the first movie unfortunately; the callbacks are all over the place, and while they might make amusing easter eggs, sometimes they just end up emphasizing the sequel’s shortcomings.
Speaking of it as a direct sequel however, The Golden Circle wastes a lot of the setup from the original film.
They gank the Kingsman agents introduced in the first film so they can introduce the Statesmen – and THEN they waste that. While we get some fun moments with Pedro Pascal’s Agent Whiskey, the Statesmen for the most part end up as just a convenient plot device that doesn’t really do much. Except, well, stand in for Kingsman because they got blown up for no reason other than convenient shock value.
They also go on to completely waste the villains (in particular, Julianne Moore’s quirky but ultimately forgettable main villain), but at that point I’d given up caring about the plot. So I just enjoyed the goofy action sequence that we got out of it.
Overall, the movie’s not really so bad. Entertaining, fun, but again, an absolute waste as a sequel; playing up the good parts of the first movie but never quite delivering its own magic.
So, if you haven’t seen it yet, you probably should- but temper your expectations.