Remember when you were 11, had never seen a James Bond movie and thought somebody, ANYbody, dropping the F-word was the funniest thing ever?
That’s what “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is like — recycled Bond gags and settings, sophomoric humor, and maybe an hour of dead time scattered throughout a two hour and fifteen minute mess.
The comic book adaptation meant to step into the comic void that the rarely-funny latest reboot of James Bond created, this sequel blend of spoof mixed with splatter picture is truly excruciating. It’s badly written, stupidly violent and digitally-set — almost every setting looks “Fantastic Mr. Fox” fake. It throws another roundhouse punch at Taron Egerton as a leading man and is an utter waste of Oscar winners Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Halle Berry and Jeff Bridges.
Yes, Firth’s dapper lead was killed-off, shot through the eye in “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” No, he’s not really dead. He’s needed here because a ditzy drug queenpin, Poppy (Moore) wipes out the Kingsman “private intelligence agency” based in a Saville Row tailor’s shop in pursuit of her evil schemes. And the whole franchise is utterly pointless without him.
Poppy has already kidnapped Elton John, forcing him to play Gershwin because the producers were too cheap to buy the rights to more than one Elton song for the soundtrack. She’s surrounded herself in a jungle stronghold that she’s turned into a ’50s Americana theme park style main street — Poppyland — with robots as her most trusted aides.
The surviving Kingsmen, Galahad (Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) must get help from their American cousins, the Statesmen, who work out of a Kentucky bourbon distillery.
Berry plays “Ginger Ale,” their version of Merlin or “Q.” Bridges is the boss, “Champ” (short for champagne) and Channing Tatum — despite getting all dolled-up in cliched gay bar Western gear (a Statesman flask is his belt-buckle) is Tequila, an agent barely in the movie at all.
And the longer this mirthless f-bombing fiasco goes on, the luckier he seems.
I’d quote funny lines, but there aren’t any. I’d point out that Tatum has been in two misfires in a row that use John Denver’s “Country Roads” as an ironic laugh, but that’d be mean.
I’d say the only thing “Golden” about this is circling around a shower drain, but that’s a crude joke they attempt here.
The fights are all stop-motion assisted blurs. The villainess is colorless. And revisiting Mont Blanc in the Italian Alps and using a national flag parachute just reminds anybody older than 11 that Bond got there first, and made it funnier.
Egerton isn’t the only charisma-starved nobody in the cast. Pedro Pascal makes no impression as American agent Whiskey, who’s borrowed Wonder Woman’s lasso. Egerton’s Eggsy character, the street punk turned “gentleman,” is still romantically paired up with that Swedish bore played by Hanna Alstrom from the first film, and Edward Holcroft has the shaved head Mark Strong-styled villain role, from back when Strong was doing villains and bloody well doing them better than anybody here.
At least Strong gets to sing on screen (A first?), and the looks-like-he’s-at-death’s-door Elton John lands a few laughs, most courtesy of the F-word. Eleven year-olds will be thrilled.
MPAA Rating: R for sequences of strong violence, drug content, language throughout and some sexual material
Cast: Taron Egerton, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Mark Strong, Channing Tatum, Colin Firth, Elton John, Edward Holcroft
Credits:Directed by Matthew Vaughn, script by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn. A 20th Century Fox release.
Running time: 2:21