Ever since director Matthew Vaughn moved from product to director his films have been ones to watch from Layer Cake; Stardust; Kick-Ass; X-Men: First Class and Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Now if we were honest, we found Kingsman the weakest of these, yet this is the film he has chosen to make for his first sequel, leaving other franchises to continue with other directors with different results.
Everything about the first Kingsman was there to enjoy, its cast, its little jokes at James Bond which it is clearly parodying, the action yet having watched again prior to the sequel, we really don’t like the ‘bum note’ of an ending, which didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the movie. So we went into the sequel with some reservations.
The film picks up with Eggsy (Taron Egerton) leaving the Tailor shop cover for the home to him and his now girlfriend Princess Tilde (Hanna Alstrom) when he is confronted by Kingsman reject Charlie (Edward Holcroft) now with robotic parts following those he lost in the original film. A fight breaks out, which continues within a taxi in scenes that will make you think of the Nightbus in Harry Potter.
Charlie manages to escape but not after he has hacked into the system of the taxi to access the whereabouts to deploy bombs and kill all the remaining Kingsman, including Roxy (Sophie Cookson) from the original. A friend who is dog sitting JB is mistaken for Eggsy and both are killed in the bomb blast.
We learn the bombs have been set off by Poppy (Julianne Moore), head of a massive drug cartel, who lives in a nostalgic village with old-school diners; cinemas and music halls, with a cameo of a captured pop star, who performs concerts for her.
Eggsy with the aid of surviving Merlin (Mark Strong) whose details were not on file as just a weapons man, learn that an American arm of Kingsman also exists known as Statesman, a Whiskey maker rather than tailors and they head to Kentucky.
Here they come face to face with Tequila (Channing Tatum) who captures them. Luckily their story checks out and we meet some other members, who are named after drinks rather than knights of the round table, including Ginger (Halle Berry); Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and Champagne (Jeff Bridges)
Also, we learn that they found Harry Hart (Colin Firth) who has been brought back to life with their advanced technologies but is suffering from memory loss.
At a meeting of both groups, Tequila shows signs of a blue infection and we learn that this is due to him taking drugs made by Poppy. She has a plan to legalize drug use so she can be taken seriously as a businesswoman rather than hide due to its illegal use.
We learn that the blue virus will kill all those who have used it, including Tilde, and unless the president (Bruce Greenwood) legalises drug use, the antidote will not be released. This will affect millions including his chief of staff (Emily Watson) yet he refuses to agree, believes with no drug users left, he can win the war on crime.
What follows is the race against the clock to get the virus from Poppy, with various fight and action sequences; cute puppies; robot dogs Benny and Jet which may give a clue to the captured pop star whose cameo for us was overused and a crude plot to fit a tracking device.
However we found this an ok sequel, nothing special and its biggest fault is at 2 hours 21 minutes it is just far too long.
Many sequences from the first film appear to just be recreated; a shootout is like the church sequence and a pub fight is very much like the first time we met Harry for example. CGI in some sequences especially the taxi, we found poor too.
Also despite having likes of Tatum; Berry; Bridges; Greenwood and Watson, none are used and Moore is not the best of villains, despite her nearly always being brilliant.
There is plenty to like, Eggsy and Merlin make a great team. Harry is a welcome return but does take away the threat when we learn that Kingsman can be just brought back from the deal. Also as most used Statesman, Whiskey does well too but we just felt underwhelmed overall which is a shame.
A 3rd film is on the way, which the ending clearly suggests but we would hope for a much-improved adventure more in line with Vaughn’s early work than this by the numbers sequel.
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