‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ review: Taron Egerton in stylish spy sequel

‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’

Directed by Matthew Vaughn

Starring Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Channing Tatum and Julianne Moore

Rated R

Director Matthew Vaughn’s stylistic sequel, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” takes the over-the-top violence from the first film and amps it up to 11.

The 2015 original movie, “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” which ended with a symphony of exploding heads, comes off as almost tame here, where lives are not precious and you never know who might go head first into industrial kitchen equipment or take a missile to the face.

Taron Egerton returns as Eggsy, the latest member of the Kingsman, a covert operation protecting the world from terror.

He’s still lamenting the loss of his mentor, Harry Hart (Colin Firth), but as the “Secret Service” trailer quickly spoiled, he’s not as dead as he seemed at the end of the last film.

The threat this time around comes in the form of Julianne Moore’s Poppy, a creepy sociopath who runs The Golden Circle, a massive drug operation based in a jungle hideaway decked out like a classic 1950s street, and protected by heavily armed soldiers and robotic dogs. She even has a kidnapped Elton John performing in her theater (and yes, he’s a ton of fun).

She has a big world-ending plan that will leave millions dead, and it’s up to what’s left of the Kingsman to save the world, with the help of their up-to-now unknown American counterparts, the Statesman. While the Kingsman’s cover is a tailor shop, the members of the Statesman are whiskey makers, with agents sporting boozy names like Tequila (Channing Tatum), Champ, short for Champagne (Jeff Bridges) and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal).

The film finds inspiration in all the classic spy movie tropes, from gadgets to suave agents to exotic locales and missions. It’s a film built to excess, in the special effects, in the body count, in the acting, in the run time.

And for sure, this will be a polarizing film because of the violence — but it is often handled in a silly way that’s more groan inducing than stomach churning. Violent or not, it’s a fun, slick film, just don’t get too attached to anyone.