Early reactions to Kingsman: The Golden Circle, opening in theaters this week, are starting to trickle out from critics. Anticipation for the sequel to Matthew Vaughn’s 2015 hit spy shoot-em-up Kingsman: the Secret Service has been ramping up steadily thanks to a raucous marketing campaign and key plot teasers — Julianne Moore as the villain! Elton John has a cameo! Is that a fucking laser lasso?! How the fuck is Colin Firth back, didn’t he die last time?! — all of which combine to give the movie a very “everything and fuck it, let’s throw it in and then blow up the kitchen sink too” vibe. Slick, cartoonish excess was the name of the game for the first movie, and if Vaughn is doubling down on that approach it has to be a good thing, right?
Well, about those “early reactions” I mentioned… some critics just aren’t digging this sequel. Which is to be expected. We’re at the tail end of summer blockbuster season, so there is probably a bit of action/CGI exhaustion going on. The movie isn’t even in theaters yet, so we’re only looking at a very small pool of reactions anyway. And let’s face it — this franchise isn’t trying to be the next Citizen Kane. It’s basically James Bond on nitrous, or Spy Kids with more blood and butt sex — plus a lot of camera winks. It isn’t for everyone, and despite how much money the first film made, even that only has a 58 rating on Metacritic. All the sequel needs to do is put some good actors into inventive action sequences and keep things fun and flowing. And if they can top the first movie’s legblade chick, that’ll be gravy.
What IS striking, however, is how even the negative reviews make the movie sound, well, pretty amazing. Look, I’m easy to please, and I’m basically the target audience. Even if Variety said the movie was 2 hours of Eggsy in an orange velvet blazer firing a laser pistol while experiencing explosive diarrhea, I’d shell out for reserved seating in 3D and a jumbo bucket of popcorn. But still, some of these negative reactions seem to prove that the sequel is doing everything that I would hope it would do. In fact, they entice me all the more.
Let’s start with what Variety did have to say about the sequel:
“It is all aggressively stylized, abusively fast-paced and ear-bleedingly loud, relying so heavily on CGI that nothing — not one thing — seems to correspond to the real world.”
“It’s not like anyone has ever accused James Bond of being realistic, but the ‘Kingsman’ series has gotten so outlandish that ‘Moonraker’ suddenly looks plausible by comparison.”
Um, be still my heart? Also, let’s be honest: reality is overrated.
Or how about this gem courtesy of Entertainment Weekly’s C- review:
“If the first Kingsman, at its best, felt like a dry martini of a joke, then this one is more Jack and Mountain Dew — unsubtle, unrefreshing, and unnecessary.”
Dude, I hate martinis but I’ll drink the shit out of whiskey mixed with basically any soda. Fuck you very much for judging. To be fair, the review does start off by saying, in no uncertain terms, that Kingsman: The Golden Circle is “not a good movie,” is “massively disappointing,” and that it’s “too campy.” As if such a thing is even possible.
The Village Voice says:
“The garish violence is still there, as is the profanity. Gone, however, is much of the creativity, the unpredictable, see-what-sticks depravity. The movie has its moments, but the bloat and the blandness take their toll.”
You had me at “garish violence,” tbh.
The NY Daily News doesn’t mince words:
“Unfortunately, overkill is the order of the day — and it takes a toll. There are too many supporting characters, too much exposition, too many gadgets, too many ‘Matrix’-inspired, slow-motion fight sequences, too many plot holes instead of twists and too ham-handed a political message about the war on drugs.”
There is no such thing as too many slow-mo fight sequences. Also, “Too Much Is Never Enough” sounds like a decent James Bond title!
Not all of the reviews are negative (The Hollywood Reporter calls it a “fleet-footed, glibly imaginative international romp”) and there will still be more to come. But who cares? This is one of those times when no amount of criticism will dissuade me.
They had me at fucking laser lassos.