This is the second Kingsman show. The first, in 2015, made more than $400 million, making a sequel inevitable. This new edition opened well over the weekend, grossing $100 million in theaters worldwide.
The Kingsmen are schooled in elite manners and warfare. They also are outfitted in bespoke suits, which they sell at The Kingsman Tailor Shop, the Savile Row front for their undercover good-guy organization. They always know which fork to use at fancy dinner parties, but they do use the F-word rather more frequently than one might expect.
The story opens with Eggsy, a young man who joined the team in the first movie. He immediately establishes his props in an extended battle with another young man, Charlie, who has gone over to the dark side, in this case a drug cartel called Poppy Pharmaceuticals.
Eggsy and Charlie tangle with ju jitsu moves, weapons, and Charlie’s bionic arm in a lethally loaded Kingsman taxi that is being pursued by bad guys in SUVs with roofs that open to expose rocket launchers. It’s all very exciting and displays the range of tactical and online support that the Kingsmen can bring to bear in a fight.
Then, suddenly, the Kingsman organization is wiped out, and the world is plunged into peril. The two survivors, Eggsy and a tech backup called Merlin, join forces with Statesman, an American counterpart organization whose front is not a clothing store but a whiskey distillery in Kentucky.
There are many, many battles on three continents. Harry Hart, a Kingsman who was shot dead in the first movie, is revived, somehow and in fits and starts, and he joins Eggsy and Merlin. Harry is played by Colin Firth who, as ever, looks smashing in a well-tailored suit.
It’s clear the whole story is meant as a giant over-the-top parody, which renders any nodding glances at character development or motivation pretty much beside the point. The effect is a very long two hours and twenty minutes of joke characters saving a joke world.
If you like this sort of thing, you might as well go.
Actress Julianne Moore plays Poppy, the film’s very bad bad gal, but she is not given much to do except bark orders to her minions. Actors Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry and Channing Tatum also languish in small roles. Perhaps the whole bunch are there to interest American audiences.
The film’s two British screenwriters also have thrown in American stereotypes. In one case, a Kentucky redneck provokes a bar fight by saying this: “Kiss my southern dick, bitch!” In another, a generic American president is a secondary bad guy, comfortable with the idea of millions of deaths of his countrymen and other people worldwide.
The film opens with a bagpipe rendition of the John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” a set-up planted for an exaggerated payoff toward the end of the film. Turns out that Merlin the Kingsman is a John Denver fan.
Elton John plays himself with good-natured humor, even when he is required to wear a ridiculous feathered costume. His “Saturday Night” song provides the accompaniment for a fight scene, and he kicks a very tall platform boot to good effect.