Fans of the first “Kingsman” film can likely instantly recall the church fight, which features Colin Firth’s Agent Galahad killing gobs of people to the tune of “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd in one of the most breakneck, crazy action scenes in American film. Unfortunately, as nearly anything else in Hollywood, it’s not hard to have too much of a good thing. Such is the problem with the sequel. From the opening minutes, we’re offered another similar fight. This time, instead of feeling new and intense, it feels rehashed and indulgent. It may be because of the lack of setup, or the environment feels entirely like a virtual simulation. This problem of aping what worked the first time around, without building a meaningful foundation, pervades throughout the film. When the Kingsman agency is brought to its knees by a series of bombings that destroy its headquarters, protagonist Eggsy must enlist the help of his “cousins” across the pond—the Kentucky-based Statesman agency—in order to get to the bottom of the attack. Their new cowboy friends (Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum and Pedro Pascal) bring a new style that feels fun and fleshed-out. Unfortunately, as the movie progresses toward its driving narrative—tracking down Poppy (Julianne Moore), a sociopath drug lord who has laced all of her drugs worldwide with a lethal chemical—the story plays second fiddle to the gags and gimmicks. The central characters are already likable enough, thanks to the work of the first film, but they do little to grow in compelling ways because they’re too busy winking at the camera. That said, the film produces a legitimately moving orchestral rendition of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” along with a few fleeting moments of genuine charm and emotion. But these nuggets of gold are too small and too far apart to make “The Golden Circle” shine in a legitimately memorable way. There is fun to be had, but not without some eye rolls, and for all of its lengthy runtime, the valuable parts seem rushed.
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