Kingsman: The Golden Circle-Movie Man Jackson

Yet another reminder to stay away from drugs. Fully settling into his role as a Kingsman secret agent, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), balances protecting the free world with being a serious boyfriend to Princess Tilde (Hanna Alström), the woman he saved in his initial mission. Things are going well until an old foe resurfaces, and as a result, the UK headquarters of the Kingsman are reduced to rubble and ashes.

Suffering mass loss of life, Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong), seemingly the only Kingsman who survived, are left to find aid in their United States brethren known as the Statesman. There, they are introduced to the group’s leader Champagne (Jeff Bridges), and agents Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), Tequila (Channing Tatum), and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal). They’ve all been targeted by an equally secret major drug organization known as The Golden Circle, led by Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), a woman looking to finally get the respect she deserves as an entrepreneur even it means putting the entire world’s population in danger. Of course, it’ll come down to Eggsy and company to save the world and look dapper doing it.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle isn’t going to convert those who disliked Kingsman: The Secret Service. It does carry some of the pitfalls of being a sequel, which can be summed up as “too much (fill in the blank)” Bloated-ness, ‘been there, done that,’ shock value and other words come to mind. But, at the core, this is still the same irreverent movie in the same vein in the same style. Make of that what you will.

It’s fair to wonder if some of the dislike towards The Golden Circle can be attributed to what its trailer suggests. What is suggested is a fairly big role for the Statesman, especially Channing Tatum, that never materializes. On that front, the sequel is disappointing, and the presence of Tatum thrown to the wayside. However, Matthew Vaughn returns to direct and co-write the sequel, and that is a good thing. Admittedly, there’s a lot to take in on this second dip, and without a doubt, 2:21 is a tad bit long for this production. But despite the number of subplots going on that include parallels to a particular commander-in-chief, amnesia, and betrayal to name a few, Vaughn and Jane Goldman manage to tell a story that gels just enough to avoid becoming incomprehensible.

While the franchise is only two films deep, it is clear that one doesn’t come to the Kingsman franchise to get realism. Vaughn’s quick-cuts, 180 pans and fast/slow framerate show up again, and arguably make the action just as good overall, if not better than, the first film. Gadgets once again are in plentiful supply, and no stone is left unturned on that front. The only real piece of this film that could be classified as “grounded” are the relationships, mainly of Eggsy, Merlin, and the returning Harry (Colin Firth).

Their scenes give Kingsman: The Golden Circle an unforeseen amount of emotion. It’s a shame then, when Vaughn and company go towards shock value to get a rise out of the audience. Akin to the final scene from the first installment, two scenes in particular aiming for dark laughs stand out as just crude and disgusting without serving anything upon further review to move the narrative forward.

Like many sequels, the cast in The Golden Circle is beefed up considerably. Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Jeff Bridges, and the previously mentioned Channing Tatum all appear. Unfortunately, though their presences are appreciated, only Pascal gets anything to do of note, regulating the rest of these talented individuals to what essentially amounts to glorified cameos. Julianne Moore puts in a fun performance, but the writing for her character leaves something to be desired. Her megalomaniac entrepreneur needed a layer of menace to be memorable; instead, Moore more often comes off as a basic psycho b**ch.

The Golden Circle, despite the addition of the Statesman, still belongs to the Kingsman and their troika threesome. Taron Egerton is super-comfortable as likable as Eggsy, Mark Strong—ahem—strong as Merlin, and Colin Firth playing his amnesia-riddled Harry with the requisite uncertainty. The question rages on of whether Harry’s return should have been better hidden (it should have), but there’s no debate that this franchise benefits from having Firth.

Gold is still gold, even when tainted. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is definitely not 24 karat quality, but shines enough to still be relatively valuable and occasionally captivated.

B-

Photo credits go to YouTube.com and collider.com

For additional detailed thoughts on films both small and large, games, and the key moments that comprise each, check out ThatMomentIn.com

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Kingsman: The Secret Service: Movie Man Jackson

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“If you’re prepared to adapt, you can transform.”

Whether you’re kicking butt, or just hanging out and such, if you’re a Kingsman, you are always doing it in impeccable style. Kingsman: The Secret Service focuses upon a secret organization that values manners and style just as much, if not more than combat skill. During one high-pressure mission in 1997, high-ranking member Harry Hart (Colin Firth), loses one of his colleagues and feels responsible for it. To atone somewhat, Hart pays a visit to the deceased’s widow and young son, leaving behind a medal with an engraved phone number that promises to give help in dire situations.

Fast-forward to the present day, and troubled but talented young man Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton) is now the sole possessor of that medal. When Eggsy finds himself in a pickle, he makes the call and is saved by Harry, while finding his connection with the organization. With an opening within it for a new “lancelot” agent, Eggsy is put into a rigorous selection process with several others candidates. As this is happening, a mysterious threat begins to rise under rich man Richard Valentine’s (Samuel L. Jackson) lead, a threat that has global implications.

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Even though it may be fun to rib about when it occurs, not every film that is pushed back from its original debut date has an automatic destiny of doom. Now more times than not, delays do little to salvage the final product, but every now and then a postponement does what it aims to do: Smooth the rough edges, fill loose holes, etc. Kingsman: The Secret Service bucks the trend of the traditional low quality that comes with films being pushed back into the period of “Dumpuary,” and brings a solid crowd-pleasing good time to an old-school template.

Really, the reason behind the postponing is unknown. It is very possible that Kingsman is the exact same movie now that would have released months ago, and the delay was for strategic box office reasons. Regardless, perhaps I should have had more faith in Matthew Vaughn, the director who restored/brought two different comic-book franchises to life in Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class and does so again here. Vaughn again serves as an architect, giving weight and intrigue to a story, world, and characters lifted from its respective comic.

Seen early on in the movie through its characters, world, story, and even score, it is undeniable that there is an affectionate soft spot for the spy tales that came before this. Pieces of Bourne and 24 are evident, but let’s face it: the Bond franchise is the inspiration for much here, elements both shaken and stirred into parody and tribute. Yours truly has never been a crazy 007 or spy movie super fan, so sometimes it is hard for interest to be had with them. Kingsman’s story isn’t amazing, and from time to time it is all over the place tonally, but one aspect it does have going for it is unpredictability. That alone keeps interest throughout.

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All of the previously mentioned is well and good, but if there is one thing Vaughn can take to his grave, it is the fact that he knows how to exhibit balls-out and over-the-top sequences of action. In these scenes of complete anarchy, there’s a frenetic fluidity that exists to them. It is a pleasure to watch, but a bit below undeniably satisfying. Why?

Yours truly usually isn’t a bloodhound (I’m more of a pug), but it was somewhat surprising that little to none of the red stuff was present in the notable moments. While I do believe that blood for blood’s sake gets old also, it is very odd to see a body sliced in half with no messy aftermath, and this continues. Maybe that plays into the whole lack of seriousness here; this very much feels like a fabricated world compared to something like Kick-Ass. That too had unbelievable happenings, but was grounded and built upon the idea that when fantasy moonlighting meets everyday real-life, the consequences are not pretty and rather brutal, which made for more satisfying and impactful action. At the end of the day it might just be a personal preference.

Part of the draw of Kingsman is witnessing actors in nontraditional roles. Look no further than Colin Firth as a dapper, erudite, dry-witted individual who only throws down when he has to. Firth is a hell of an actor, but seeing him look so effortless in combat is mindblowing. Also flipping the script from his usual work is Mark Strong as one of the good guys lending support to the youngsters. He may not have a ton to say, but his presence is noted. The most meta-roles belong to Samuel L. Jackson and Sofia Boutella as the blade-legged Gaselle. Every cliche and commonality found in villains appearing in spy movies is present with Jackson these two, and it is pleasant fun, if a tad overused as this progresses.

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Credit has to be given to Taron Egerton, not first-billed on the marquee but showing a lot to many witnessing his work for the first time. It would have been real easy to not care for and maybe even dislike his character of Eggsy, but his character is written well and Egerton brings a load of charisma to support it. He may be one to watch with the requisite star look and ever-developing chops.

Though there may be a few blanks fired here and there, Kingsman: The Secret Service is hyperactive, irreverent, and does what it wants to do. Kingsmen may have there own rules, but this film plays by its own set.

Grade: B

Photo credits go to vixenvarsity.com, forbes.com, and nydailynews.com.

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The Imitation Game: Movie Man Jackson

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“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”

Sometimes it is the extremely brilliant people who have the hardest time assimilating into society. This brilliant person in The Imitation Game is Englishman Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a renowned mathematician and logician, among other titles. In the early 1940’s, the war between the Allied and Axis powers continues to be fought, with the Axis powers currently having a major advantage due to the impenetrable Enigma code utilized by Nazi Germany.

To seize momentum away from the enemy, the code must be cracked, which is where Turing and his intellect comes to the forefront. With time not the side of the Allies, the British government puts together the country’s brightest individuals like Turing, Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), and others to devise a solution. To compound the stress of essentially being responsible for the direction the war goes, Alan harbors a secret: He is a homosexual in a time and place that doesn’t support people of this ilk.

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The story of Alan Turing seems to be a largely unknown one, which The Imitation Game sheds light upon via the silver screen. Helmed by director Morten Tyldun, the passion and care towards this project is very noticeable, and all in all it is pretty solid. Aside from telling the story of the gifted individual, this also seems to exist for a pretty clear goal: getting those award nominations.

By no means is The Imitation Game a terrible movie, far from it really. Again, Tyldun exhibits much care and attention to detail with regards to the screenplay. While not being familiar with the man, nothing that appeared here struck yours truly as being too embellished or completely shoehorned in. It is Hollywood, taking liberties here and there but not necessarily abusing them. In a surprise, the movie carries a totally natural humor that helps to minimize the heaviness.

Additionally, the director really nails the feel and atmosphere of 1940’s England, from speech to dress to lighting to exterior. Being shot on location most likely made this a slightly easier feat, but still, it takes skill to get the past right in an aesthetic sense on screen. The production is of great quality, as is the introspective and moving score put together by Alexandre Desplat, who has quite the notable and diverse 2014 with scoring Godzilla, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and now this.

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Sticking with the look at the screenplay however, there are a few qualms. For all of the focus that Tyldun brings to telling the story and its consistent pacing, there is a lack of both in the final part of the film, to the point where it actually becomes haphazard and somewhat harder to follow. Also (and this may be a very personal feeling) the story simply isn’t all that interesting or intriguing. In no way am I diminishing what Turing did, it is just that his story may not be one, as a whole, that lends itself to film effortlessly. The story is compelling in moments, but also stuck in molasses here and there, being just as drab as the well-crafted scenery.

Much like another flick taking a look at a brilliant man’s life and events, The Imitation Game features a brilliant performance from a man who portrays the main character. What Benedict Cumberbatch is able to do here is pretty riveting. He is a guy to get behind because of why he is doing this, but he is clearly also a difficult guy to be around on a daily basis, either intentionally or unintentionally. The performance is precise and systematic, full of attention to detail. Cumberbatch is one of the best working in the industry today.

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Lending some star power to the cast is Keira Knightley, starring as Joan Clarke. While she is good in her role, there isn’t a ton of note here, and the previous allusions made by yours truly with regards to embellishment apply here. The relationship between Clarke and Turing in this feels more romanticized than it probably was, and while the movie occasionally hints at this, it seems to want it both ways, wanting there to be something but nothing at the same time. Adding another level of star power is Mark Strong, who despite his tough appearance, turns in mellow and amusing work as an agent of the British Secret Intelligence Service. The rest of the cast comprising of Turing’s colleagues are definitely serviceable and do what is needed when asked.

Anchored by rock-solid acting by Benedict Cumberbatch and with what would appear to be a mostly grounded telling of Turing, his difficulties, and his tide-turning accomplishment, The Imitation Game is a nice, albeit a bit dry, look at a World War II story that probably gets lost in the bigger rubble more than it should.

Grade: B-

Photo credits go to neonreels.com, entertainthis.usatoday.com, and servingcinema.com.

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