On Valentine's Day weekend in 2015, "Kingsman: The Secret Service" debuted right alongside "Fifty Shades of Grey" as some counter-programming for people that actually appreciate these things called movies and not the complete trash that is the latter-mentioned movie. I of course wasn't going to touch that filthy piece of sleaze, so I smartly elected to enter the theater for this "Kingsman" movie that looked like it could be a bit of fun. And holy cow did I experience quite the wild, intense ride. From the moment Sofia Boutella's character used her prosthetic legs, which doubled as sharp blades, to slice a man vertically in half, to the moment where hundreds of heads colorfully blew up with patriotic music playing in the background, I was thoroughly entertained. I now own the movie and have joyfully watched it on many occasions. It's one of the most fun action movies I've seen in a long time. So naturally I was super excited to jump back into this universe, especially when it was announced that Matthew Vaughan was back to direct and most of the cast from the first were on board to reprise their roles, while people like Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore were added to the cast. And the trailers looked phenomenal. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, see, that's a funny discussion. A lot of critics seem to think that a lot did go wrong in this movie, thus it unfortunately is in possession of a giant, ugly, splattered, rotten tomato on the critics aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. I always do my best to make up my own decision and not let someone else's thoughts influence my own when it comes to movies, but it's interesting what reviews can do to your expectations. The absolute worst feeling is when you go into a movie that you are dead set on loving, only to witness a disaster unfold. So when others said that they didn't like this movie, I had to temper my expectations a bit to avoid that huge crash of disappointment. But then I paid closer attention to what people were actually saying and I got the vibe that we had an "it's not as good as the first, that means I hate it" scenario. As if no gray area or middle ground is allowed in film. If it's not an epic masterpiece, then it has to be the worst movie on the planet, right? WRONG!!! I hate that mindset. Thus I went from super excited to tempered expectations to determined to enjoy the movie anyways. All before seeing the movie. And hey, a 50 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes means half of the critics liked the movie. That's a good sign, right?
With that rant out of the way, let's talk about this actual movie, which I think has a lot worthy of praise. Is it as solid as the first? No. It's not. But that doesn't make it a bad movie. In my opinion it's OK to simply be good. Which is exactly what this movie is. A good movie. One of the major things that holds this movie back from being great like the first one is the actual plot. Julianne Moore plays a crazy psychotic woman living in the middle of the jungle in some country and she has essentially gained a monopoly on the drug industry where she has poisoned every recreational drug in the world. Now she goes to the president of the United States with certain demands she wants met or else everyone who has caught her disease will die within like 24 hours. In the meantime, every Kingsman base in U.K. has been blown up by her, so the remaining Kingsman have to go to the United States and team up with the Statesman, essentially the United States' version of the Kingsman, to stop Julianne Moore before half of the population of the world dies. Yeah, this plot got a bit too silly for me. I mean, I know this is "Kingsman." Ridiculous is the name of the game. But it got a little too unrealistic and ridiculous. I would've liked them to be a little more grounded with things.
Mainly I'm tired of this whole shtick with the main villain trying to destroy the world. There's not a whole lot of solid motivation behind what Julianne Moore is doing and she doesn't pull off an evil, crazy psychopath convincingly enough, even though she admittedly is having a ton of fun with the role. Never once did I believe she was capable of destroying every single Kingsman base and never once did I believe she was capable of inserting a drug into every last recreational drug on Earth or that she could just press a button and the remedies would be immediately dispersed within seconds to every single person. It was too much. I feel that Matthew Vaughan simply wanted to go bigger and better with every aspect of the movie and thought that having a more powerful villain with a more deadly plan was the right thing to do. I don't think it was. It would require a super crazy, terrifying villain to successfully pull that off and even though Julianne Moore had a ton of fun with what she was given, she wasn't the right choice. The person who did work as a villain was the return of Edward Holcroft's Charlie, one of the butt-hurt, rejected Kingsman candidates from the first movie back for revenge. Except he played a distant second fiddle, so it didn't quite make up for it.
There you go. I think those aspects of the movie are what are causing a lot of people to hate this movie. But to me, all of that doesn't quite bring the movie down to rotten level. There's just a lot of missed opportunities, a lack of focus and a forgettable main story and villain. But all of our main cast take what they are given and fully commit to it. The beginning of the movie is rather insane with some high octane action sequences that I had a blast with. Teron Egerton once again owned it as Eggsy while Mark Strong and Collin Firth were both fantastic as well. And even though Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges weren't in the movie as much as I wanted them to be, they also owned the screen time they got, making it so I would love a spin-off focused solely on the Statesman. This time with Tatum and Bridges being front and center instead of being sidelined. And again, even though I didn't like Julianne Moore's character, she gave it her best. Thus we had a cast and crew that were fully committed to making this a fun movie and that level of commitment honestly made me really enjoy the movie. And most of the action sequences were on par with the first movie. We don't get a "church sequence" in this movie, but what we do get is a crazy, wild ride that I enjoyed.
The best part of this movie is the final third for me. Given the nature of a final third, I will not detail it, but we get intense, crazy and surprisingly emotional, even though a few decisions made me angry. And there was one specific action sequence that did make me super dizzy, but I don't think the action as a whole was quite as bad as some are making it out to be. Yes, this does get a bit on the comic book level with certain stunts that take place. Again, bigger and badder doesn't always mean better quality. And given that this was the first sequel that Matthew Vaughan has ever directed, I think he got a little carried away with trying to make the movie bigger and better. I hope that he is able to learn from certain mistakes and give us a more grounded, slightly more realistic third movie. But I still had fun. And if you go in with the mindset that this movie is a "Kingsman" movie, I think you'll find a lot of entertainment value out of this. The first act of the movie is a ton of fun. The third act of this movie gets ridiculous and insane in all the ways you hope a "Kingsman" movie will do. A lack of focus in the second act, a lame villain and a lackluster overall story are what brings this movie down, but I still think this is better than many are giving it credit for and thus I will award the movie an 8/10.