Fun, Wild and a Little Problematic: a Review of “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”
Reveling in its absurdity, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a delightful film. The second installment of the British-espionage comedy series pokes fun at itself, parodying popular spy films like James Bond, and is a good pick for anyone in search of two hours of pure fun. Beautifully filmed and directed, Kingsman is packed with bright colors, perfectly symmetrical scenes, and fantastically choreographed action shots involving technology that you know will never exist but momentarily believe in anyways (see-through, bulletproof umbrellas, anyone?). The cinematography, along with witty dialogue and charming acting from lead Taron Egerton and Channing Tatum, among others, make this Kingsman sequel even better than the first.
Keeping in line with its in-your-face cinematography and outrageous plot, Kingsman is anything but subtle in exhibiting social and political issues. The central plot alludes poignantly to America’s War on Drugs. Julianne Moore plays a confident villain named Poppy, who utilizes her monopoly on the international market of all drugs to poison all drug-users. She then blackmails the President of the United States, demanding the legalization of all drugs, and consequently, “an end to this modern Prohibition” — a weirdly enlightened stance for the film’s antagonist. The film addresses mass incarceration in its all-too-real depiction of the caged “junkie scum” (as described by the President in the movie) who took Poppy’s poisonous drug strain. The U.S. Vice President, a tired blonde woman, begs the President to save those whom she calls “innocent people” from having their drug use being criminalized. With this overarching discourse, the film sheds light on these issues in unexpected and comedic ways.
On the other hand, there is a gross underrepresentation of women and minorities in Kingsman. Among a cast of almost entirely white men, there are only five women, who make do with what little they’re given: Julianne Moore delivers a charming, albeit one-dimensional, villain in Poppy; Hanna Alström’s Tilde is a Scandinavian princess and the girlfriend of the protagonist, Eggsy; Poppy Delevigne’s character, Clara, only serves as the woman Eggsy has to sleep with for the mission; and Sophie Cookson’s character, Roxy, dies in the first fifteen minutes. However, Halle Berry provides one exception to this rule: she plays the only character of color, Ginger, a brilliant computer whiz who promotes herself to a leading position in the intelligence agency in the end. You go, Halle Berry.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle adds a fun and youthful twist on the James Bond cliché, using popular actors and vivid cinematography to create an overall feeling of lightheartedness. In not taking itself too seriously, Sir Elton John has a strange, fabulous role in the film as one of Poppy’s hostages, forced to play her his classics, which double as background music for the badass action scenes (an unexpected but appreciated combination). But despite being a comedy-action movie, Kingsman uses its platform to make thought-provoking commentary on substance use and mass incarceration in the United States. Yet, for a seemingly socially-aware film, Kingsman’s casting speaks volumes about gender and minority inclusion, or lack thereof, in Hollywood blockbusters. Still, it provides great, if confusing, laughs and is sure to leave you feeling good enough to go out and kick some butt — although it’d be nice if they remembered that it’s not just the white dudes who can pull off the spy thing.