This review contains spoilers for “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”
This Friday, the long-awaited “Kingsman: The Secret Service” sequel, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” hit theaters. Despite all of the criticism of the last installment, the franchise continues to follow a satirical yet equally misogynistic take on the James Bond series. However, even with its glaring problems, there is still something tantalizing about the 21st century’s favorite British spies.
The story picks up a few years after it last left off, with the newly-initiated Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) risking his life daily to secretly save the world. As he is leaving work for the night, he is held at gunpoint by his supposedly dead enemy, Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft), a former Kingsman trainee. After a reaffirming, beautifully-timed fight that made me remember why I watch action movies, it is revealed that Charlie is back to represent a mysterious underground organization known as the Golden Circle and that the Kingsmen are in danger. After the demise of many Kingsman, Eggsy and company recruit the help of their, as Agent Tequila (Channing Tatum) puts it, “American cousins.” The Kingsman and “Statesman” (who include Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry and Pedro Pascal) must join together to take down the malicious drug lord, Poppy (Julianne Moore) before she wipes out all recreational drug users in an attempt to legalize these substances. With beautifully-choreographed gunfights, a supremely entertaining cameo by Sir Elton John that is paramount to the plot, and the return of the presumed dead Harry Hart (Colin Firth), “Kingsman” will stun viewers on the big screen.
While no franchise can pull off bright orange quite like the “Kingsman” can, this movie installment, in the realm of sequels, is really good. It was still able to capture the quick humor of the former as well as the unwavering hearts of the characters. The series continues to provide innovative and eye-catching action sequences using both slow motion and sped-up shots that harmoniously flowed together into succinct action-packed bursts.
The latest installment also featured one of the most likable casts of any 2017 movie. Even the members spent the majority of their press appearances cooing over each other (see anyone talking about Pedro Pascal at the San Diego Comic Con).
However, we should not gloss over the severe misogyny of the movie. It is hard to understand why a concept based on poking fun at the wildly sexist Bond films still falls into the same traps. First of all, the only female member of the Kingsman, and arguably the most capable Roxy (Sophie Cookson) is murdered in the midst of helping Eggsy impress his girlfriend, Princess Tilde’s (Hanna Alstrom), royal family. Fans of the series will remember the original movie’s blatant disregard for both Roxy’s actions and her emotions by giving her little screentime and hastily-written relationships. This was proven to be all for naught in this installment. Although Sophie Cookson picked up an Empire Award nomination for her role in the first movie, if Roxy’s death was needed as a plot device, they should have at least let it be in a more respectable one.
This horrible writing of female characters continues throughout the movie with Princess Tilde, who serves only to hinder Eggsy in his attempts to stop Poppy, and later becomes a convenient and literally paralyzed damsel in distress, to up the stakes for our hero. Ultimately, she receives maybe 15 minutes on screen. The most sickening and uncomfortable moment in this movie—and remember, this is a movie full of men literally getting ground up in meat grinders—is Eggsy’s “hook-up” with Ciara (Poppy Delevigne), Charlie’s girlfriend. In under 10 minutes, she becomes the only character unclothed in the entire film, and seconds afterwards, viewers are greeted with a CGI rendering of her vagina as Eggsy attempts to bug her mucous membranes. The scene is overwhelmingly gross and violating and played for laughs to boot. After this, Ciara receives only a few more lines before getting killed by Charlie in revenge for her cheating.
Director Matt Vaughn and star Taron Egerton have repeatedly defended these scenes in the name of shock value. “It’s what Matthew [Vaughn] does, it’s his signature thing. He likes to do something that shocks. In Kick-Ass, it was Chloe Grace Moretz saying the C-word, in Kingsman 1 it was the bum shot of the Swedish princess, and in this one, it’s the thing. And, you know, it’s not to everyone’s tastes, but it certainly gets people talking. All it is is explicitly showing what Bond alludes to and says in a double entendre kind of way.” Egerton said.
However, these scenes do not play out as ‘shocking’ so much as excessive and unnecessary.
The misogyny in this franchise hardly even skims the surface of what is wrong in this series, and many arguments could be made about how “Kingsman” portrays people with disabilities or people of color (spoiler: they’re literally all villains, with the new exception of Halle Berry). This series is a constant pendulum swinging between entertainment and disgust that inexplicably continues to pull viewers in. While “Kingsman: the Golden Circle” is fantastic, it should be taken with a grain of salt;. No matter how breathtaking the cinematography may be, movies should not be allowed to get away with the sexist stunts “Kingsman” continues to pull.
with the new exception of Halle Berry.) This movie series is a constant pendulum swing between entertainment and disgust, that inexplicably continues to pull viewers in. That’s why I conclude with saying this: “Kingsman: the Golden Circle” is fantastic, but should be taken with a grain of salt; no matter how breathtaking the cinematography may be, movies as a whole should really not be allowed to get away with the sexist stunts “Kingsman” continues to pull.