Sometimes, films are unjustly judged. Other times, popular opinion needs to be challenged. Either way, this content will likely be unpopular.

A sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service, Kingsman: The Golden Circle offers a continuation of Eggsy’s story which sees the introduction of the Kingsman agency’s American counterpart, Statesman.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle‘s reviews are decidedly mixed, with general critical opinion falling more on the negative side. However, many aspects of the film were praised, and it’s not without its merits.

One of the biggest ways in which Kingsman: The Golden Circle works well is in the way it delivers on the promises of the first film. It’s consistent in tone with its predecessor, mostly hitting the same notes of humor (although somewhat less frequently) and delivering another healthy dose of violent action to the franchise.

The Golden Circle is an ambitious sequel. It introduces a number of new characters to the franchise, and while there are a handful of major stars involved (Jeff Bridges, Pedro Pascal, Halle Berry, Channing Tatum, and Julianne Moore), these new additions to the franchise are barely explored. In fact, neither are the returning characters from the first film – there’s so much going on in The Golden Circle that character development appears to be something of an afterthought.

In addition to the film’s general lack of character-driven story, there are a handful of concepts that simply don’t work as was clearly hoped. One such example is the villain’s robot dogs, whose design indicates that they would be more at home in an animated family film than an R-rated gore-fest. Another aspect that feels too forced in Elton John’s role as a kidnapped celebrity – it feels cheap and tacky, and not even remotely organic within the film’s story.

However, despite its shortcomings, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is not without merit. Its general story is entertaining and relatively coherent (in line with the franchise and the genre, at least), and its stars each make their roles feel effortlessly cool in order to lend The Golden Circle some genuine spy movie credentials.

Channing Tatum’s screen presence is wasted, as is Halle Berry’s, with both characters reduced to relatively small supporting roles despite their clear potential as franchise-leading stars. Egerton is utilized well as Eggsy, as is Colin Firth as Harry, but The Golden Circle lacks the same charm as the first film.

Overall, Kingsman: The Golden Circle feels like a distinct step down from the first film. It’s not that the sequel doesn’t lack style or substance – its story and general ideas are in line with its predecessor – but it just doesn’t reach the same heights of brutal, high-octane, comic-book-inspired thrills as the original film.

While The Golden Circle is ultimately a little disappointing, it does highlight the franchise’s general potential far better than WWI prequel The King’s Man.

Rating: 55%

Summary: An enjoyable film that sadly rings relatively hollow, Kingsman: The Golden Circle fails to recapture the magic of its predecessor. However, it’s not without its high points, and evidences the potential of another installment.

Highlight: The over-the-top concept of Statesman works as a caricature of American spies and action heroes in the same way that Kingsman does of British ones, and the subtle comedy of its use is a nice touch.