Kingsman: The Secret Service was a near-perfect action movie. It was Bond and Batman rolled into one while poking fun at both. It was witty, classy, tongue-in-cheek absurdity. Sure, the female characters were kinda stereotyped and there was something downright disturbing about those Guy-Ritchie-style fast-slow fight scenes but you couldn’t help queueing up for its fun-packed roller-coaster and, goddammit, enjoying the ride.
The strong cast helped. If you want to add class and gravitas to an action movie, who better to front it than king of class, Colin Firth. Taron Egerton was equally appealing as Jafaican-speaking home-boy, Eggsy. And though Samuel Jackson’s slippy lisp (now you hear it, now you don’t) was perhaps a quirk too far, he brought just the right level of comedy to his psychopathic role.
So what the jiminy went wrong with Kingsman 2? It starts on the same roller-coaster of fun as KM1 – a crazy car chase/ fight scene, a Bond-style taxi that turns into a submarine – but the fun is quickly marred by a script that seems to have been slap-dashed around the extravagantly CGIed fight scenes. The dialogue is so clichéd, the plot so sloppy that even the all-star cast can’t raise it out of the mire.
Julianne Moore plays Poppy Adams, a ‘50s-obsessed drug dealer who’s peeved that enormous success in her chosen career path goes largely unrecognised by wider society due to the illegal status of her product. She decides to rectify this by adding a little something to her drugs which initially crackle-glazes users with blue lines before paralysing and then killing them. She has an antidote which will save them all if only the president (Bruce Greenwood) will agree to legalise drugs. (Really? Really?)
Unfortunately, the president sees allowing Poppy to do her thing as an opportunity to end the war on drugs. Needless to say, it’s down to The Kingsmen and their new-found American allies, The Statesmen, to save the world (or at least drug-users) from imminent demise.
A series of tedious and ridiculously improbable plot-twists occur. What’s more, there’s no improvement on the damsel-in-distress/ willing enabler/ sex object stereotypes that KM1s female characters were slotted into.
Though Roxy’s role in The Secret Service was largely to augment Eggsy’s heroics, at least she was there. This time around the action revolves entirely around the men. ‘Sex Object’ has been promoted to ‘Her Indoors’ and a new ‘Femme Fatale’ introduced. Poor old Roxy (Sophie Cookson) is blown up before the film even gets going. At least she had a decent code name. The Statesman dudes (and they’re ALL dudes apart from tech support, Halle Berry) have names like Whisky, Tequila and Champagne (Champ). Halle Berry’s character is Ginger Ale. Says it all, really.
The film’s epilogue hints at a further sequel with (god help us) Channing Tatum joining the Kingsman group. Those with high tedium thresholds can look forward to it.
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