Release Date: September 22, 2017
Cast: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Studio: Marv Films, Cloudy Productions
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Spoilers: Medium

Hold onto your seats, because this movie ain’t easing you in. The opening sequence of this sequel movie might as well have been a muscled dude shouting “ADRENALINE” in your face for five minutes and breaking glass panes over his head.

The rest of the movie is passable, I guess.

I’m so disappointed in this movie because I really, really liked the first one. It had humor, heart, and action. The academy-style training trope is one of my favorites, and the writers weren’t afraid to kill off main characters so the stakes felt high.

Kingsman 2 is a pale imitation of the first Kingsman movie. The sly humor is still there, but nothing is quite as good as Eggsy slow-mo jogging with a pug down his shirt. Sorry, bedazzled Elton John.

A lot of Kingsman 2 relies on the surprise value of its A-list cast. Unfortunately, those actors don’t make up for its lack of meaningful audience connection with the characters.

Kingsman 2 follows Eggsy as he saves the world from a dangerous drug syndicate, The Golden Circle, headed by the twee, psychotic Poppy (Julianne Moore). Poppy has destroyed the Kingsman organization (all within the first 15 minutes of this 2 hour 20 minute film) and contaminated the world’s supply of recreational drugs with a nanovirus. The virus causes victims’ arteries to turn blue, then they turn manic, become paralyzed, and eventually die.

Poppy released the virus so that she could extort the President to legalize and tax recreational drugs in exchange for the antidote (spoiler alert: he doesn’t). That way, Poppy can come out of the shadows of the Cambodian rainforest and take her rightful place as the world’s richest business mogul.

After the Kingsman organization is destroyed, the crew find their way to their doomsday scenario compatriots: a sister organization in the United States called Statesman. Stateside, we meet the delightfully dumb Agent Tequila (Channing Tatum) and his boss Champagne (Jeff Bridges). After a series of lassoed, Western firefights, the crew starts to pursue Poppy’s organization in earnest.

Overall, this movie is a glitzy, fun masterclass in action camerawork, but there isn’t a lot of heart underneath the glossy veneer of violence. I found it hard to care about the same characters I loved so much in the first movie because the character arcs just weren’t well-developed. And at over two hours, there are a lot of nods to the first, much better, movie, but not nearly enough pugs.

I say skip going to the theater for this one and just watch the first Kingsman instead.

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