Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

DIRECTOR:  Matthew Vaughn   LEAD CAST:  Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Julianne Moore, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Pedro Pascal  SCREENWRITER:  Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn  PRODUCER:  Adam Bohling, David Reid, Matthew Vaughn  EDITOR:  Eddie Hamilton  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Henry Jackman, Matthew Margeson  GENRE:  Action-Adventure, Comedy  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  George Richmond  DISTRIBUTOR:  Warners Bros.  LOCATION:  England, Wales, Italy  RUNNING TIME:  141 minutes
Technical assessment: 4
Moral assessment: 2.5
CINEMA rating: V18
MTRCB rating:  R13
Kingsman, a British secret intelligence service, is wiped out—its headquarters blown up and its agents killed, save for two.  Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) find a clue from the rubbles that leads them to their counterpart US spy organization called Statesman. Kingsman and Statesman track The Golden Circle, the group that sought to destroy Kingsman.  Headed by drug lord Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), the group puts toxins in recreational drugs, threatening to kill millions.  Poppy offers to release an antidote if the US stops its war on drugs.  Meanwhile, agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) survives the gunshot in the first Kingsman movie (The Secret Service), but suffers from amnesia.  He regains his memory and joins Eggsy in the mission.
Kingsman animates the screen with a powerful cast. Firth’s Harry, despite the eye patch, makes a dramatic switch from a mousy scholar to the resolute agent that he really is. Moore’s Poppy and her quirks are so over-the-top funny and ridiculous.  Strong’s Merlin breaks our heart when he gives up his life for the mission while singing Take Me Home, Country Roads.  Egerton’s Eggsy is perfect as an ever-so-grateful agent looking to Harry for affirmation.  Bruce Greenwood as the US President is a parody of the real life leader, and he does it so well. Kingsman floods us with meticulously choreographed fight scenes in a dainty 1950s diner, with graceful executions of punches and kicks, guns, explosions, and CGI, made more exciting with riveting music and sound effects. Death, goofiness, violence, and drama are weaved so well into the story that we find ourselves relishing them in equal measure.
Therein lies the danger in Kingsman.  For young audiences especially.  It makes the wrong delightful, fun and guilt-free.  With drugs as driver of conflict in the story, Kingsman can add noise to the real life division caused by the Philippines’ war on drugs and its associated extra-judicial killings.  Kingsman has all the elements of extreme and excessive violence strapped into its storyline: guns, explosions, drugs, alcohol, punching, cuss words, even a macabre meat-grinding of live, fully-clad humans to turn them into burger patties. Women are portrayed at their worst: whimsical, capricious, with one so gullible and vulnerable she doesn’t even notice a tracking device has been inserted into her private parts. And so, although the heroes win over the villains in the end, Kingsman is an egregious route to impart its lessons (yes, we didn’t miss them): drug abuse is dangerous; relationships matter; loyalty, friendship, brotherhood, and sacrifice for the common good.