“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is the follow-up to “The Secret Service,” the film adaptation of the popular Kingsman comic book series by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.  This new adventure finds the Kingsman headquarters being attacked, forcing its members to re-locate to the American spy organization known as Statesmen.  With a long history in common between the two covert services, they must team up to defeat a new, foreboding enemy that will cause great destruction to our world.        


Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman return as director and co-screenwriter, along with lead actors Taron Egerton as new leader Eggsy, Colin Firth as veteran Hart, and Mark Strong as tech wizard Merlin.  Julianne Moore portrays Poppy, the drug cartel villainess of the piece, like that of a Stepford wife, complete with a faux plaza of ‘50s kitsch.  However, her character comes across as generic and her plot to implement toxins on all recreational drugs is nothing short of far-fetched and ridiculous.  Channing Tatum is unfortunately wasted in his performance as agent Tequila, while Halle Berry and Jeff Bridges at least make the most of their cameos.  An appearance by Elton John, who is being held captive by Poppy, gives the film a slight edge, but soon ends up being repetitive.        


The action and stunt set pieces are what really drive this movie.  Being based on a series of comics, the staging of the scenes has all of the tight-knit structure of still panels being set in motion.  The most iconic showcases for this are an opening car chase/fight between Eggsy and the mechanical arm-wearing rejected candidate-turned-rogue agent Charlie, a gondola chase on the slopes of Italy, and the final battle.  The non-action pacing, however, feels like it has a start-stop functionality, which makes much of the movie lag in large sections during its unnecessary 141-minute length.  Much of the film also gives off a mean-spirited, including a scene where Eggsy has to hide a device in the private parts of his nemesis’ girlfriend.  At the same time, there is a lot of unnecessary plugging of Fox News, given this is a 20th Century Fox release, which greatly conflicts with the satire of the U.S. President being in cahoots with the drug cartel.  


“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” isn’t quite as fresh and exciting as its predecessor, but if you’re looking for something that will spice up your movie night, there is enough action and excitement to keep you satisfied.


**1/2 “Ya-stars”