Movie Review: Action alone maketh not a sequel in Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Any initial apprehension over a US-centric sequel taking away the "Britishness" of Kingsman - heart and soul of the original 2015 film - quickly dissipates, as The Golden Circleretains its Brit humour and sentiments.
The fun from the first film stemmed from Colin Firth dispensing the finer points of manners and dressing well while fighting baddies and, of course, seeing the English actor, who usually has a stiff upper lip, transform into an umbrella-wielding badass.
Firth's Harry, who supposedly died in the first film, is a welcome return here, as the bond between him, Taron Egerton and Mark Strong is the key emotional draw in this otherwise disappointing sequel.
The several solid moments between the trio, especially in the final act, are inspiring, funny and heartfelt.
The introduction of the Statesman is merely a means to push the series along.
If director Matthew Vaughn's definition of a sequel means bigger and crazier action, then he hits the mark.
But in doing so, the story is sidelined, which means we don't really see much of Julianne Moore's amazing villain Poppy and her plan to control the world with drugs.
Some of the crazy action sequences come courtesy of Pedro Pascal's Agent Whiskey, who has a wicked electric whip that he unleashes with much fury and accuracy.
That said, nothing beats Sofia Boutella's Gazelle, she of the cool lethal prosthetic blade legs from the first film.
Those expecting new addition Channing Tatum to pull out some smooth moves will be let down, as his part is nothing but a glorified cameo and set-up for Kingsman 3.
MOVIE: Kingsman: The Golden Circle
STARRING: Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Pedro Pascal
DIRECTOR: Matthew Vaughn
THE SKINNY: After the Kingsman HQ is mysteriously destroyed, surviving agents Eggsy (Egerton) and Merlin's (Strong) search for answers lead them to the Statesman, the brash American cousins to the Kingsman's Arthurian society. There, they also discover that Eggsy's mentor, Harry (Firth), who was earlier shot in the head, is still alive.