(director: Matthew Vaughn; screenwriters: Jane Goodman/ based on the comic book The Secret Service by Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons; cinematographer: George Richmond; editor: Eddie Hamilton; music: Henry Jackman, Matthew Margeson; cast: Taron Egerton (Eggsy), Colin Firth (Harry Hart), Mark Strong (Merlin), Halle Berry (Ginger Ale), Channing Tatum (Tequila), Jeff Bridges (Champ), Pedro Pascal (Whiskey), Edward Holcroft (Charlie), Hanna Alstrom (Princess Tilde), Emily Watson (Chief of Staff Fox), Calvin Demba (Brandon), Tom Benedict Knight (Angel), Sophie Cookson (Roxy), Elton John (Himself), Bruce Greenwood (President of the United States), Poppy Delevingne(Clara), Gordon Alexander (Kingsman Cab Driver), Julianne Moore(Poppy/Suzy Homemaker), Michael Gambon (Arthur), Bjorn Grannath (Swedish King); Runtime: 141; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Matthew Vaughn, David Reid, Adam Bohling; Twentieth Century Fox; 2017)

Amusing in spots. 

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The inane spy-spoof is based on the 2012 comic book The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, with an all-star cast and clever but not really smart scripting by director Matthew Vaughan (“Kick-Ass”/”X-Men: First Class”) and Jane Goldman. The sequel to the 2015 hit and big grossing film, features the returning team of Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, and director Matthew Vaughn. It also features great location shots, plenty of Bondlike gadgets, wild action sequences, a slick but questionable script and a crude humor that’s not for all tastes. It proves to be a messy film, that goes on for too long and suffers from too much cartoonish violence and a penchant for absurdity. But, if looking solely for escapist entertainment, it is amusing in spots.The former delinquent turned gentleman, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), appears outside of his tailor shop spy HQ in London when he’s attacked by an old training reject Charlie (Edward Holcroft) and his new cyborg arm. Their intense deadly fight continues in a taxi racing through the night streets of London, as the sounds of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” is amped up. Charlie is at first thought killed but survives over a tech error made by Eggsy, and we learn he is working for the demented head of an ambitious international drug cartel. We also learn that Eggsy is still mourning the loss of Harry (Colin Firth), his mentor, and has become Harry’s Galahad in the spy organization, and he is now in a monogamous relationship with the Swedish royal Tilde (Hanna Alström).

There’s some comic relief as Eggsy dines with her royal parents and answers her father’s (Bjorn Grannath) absurd questions by cheating. The peace is disturbed when that night a bomb destroys the Kingsman’s tailor shop headquarters and all the agents are killed. A trail leads to the responsible party being an international drug cartel called the Golden Circle run by the smarmy, nut job Poppy (Julianne Moore), who lives in a diner replica in a remote undisclosed jungle compound filled with lots of 1950s retro items and is heavily guarded by humans and robots. She schemes to control all the world’s drug traffic by contaminating all the drugs with a deadly virus that only she has the antidote for. What she requests from all the world leaders is that drugs be legalized and she should be chosen as the sole drug supplier for the world, and if this is not agreed upon she will allow all the vics to die but if agreed upon will release the antidote immediately. The Kingsman remaining team survivors, Eggsy and the staffer techie Merlin (Mark Strong), realize they are no longer equipped to go after the monster alone but uncover that in Kentucky there’s a spy organization called The Statesman that’s financed by a liquor operation and is run like theirs. In Kentucky they meet the boss of the Statesman, Champ (Jeff Bridges), the techie analyst Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), the cocky high-tech lasso-twirlin’ agent Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and the screw up agent Tequila (Channing Tatum). They also come across that the patch-eyed Harry is with them, who did not die after being shot in the eye but just lost his memory and has reverted to being a butterfly collector.

While the film is on solid grounds as a satire on the ‘War on Drugs’ and the moral bankruptcy of the U.S. President (Bruce Greenwood), it can also be viewed as leaving us the political message to ‘just say no to drugs’ or to legalize it so it can be sold as any regulated food as the more sensible solution to the drug problem. Noteworthy attention grabbing scenes feature a clownish Elton John, being a pretty sight in pink feathers and playing a red grand piano as a captive of Poppy, and a well-shot scene of an out of control cable car spinning down the snow covered Italian Alps. A crass scene has Eggsy in Glastonbury for the music festival putting a bug “in” an adversary’s girlfriend’s (Poppy Delevingne) vagina. It’s the kind of film you can hate or love, or like me can take it merely as a guilty pleasure.