Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong
In theatres now
Matthew Vaughn’s second outing into the stylish world of Kingsman is a disaster. The screenplay is a mess, it’s half an hour longer than it needs to be, and it is unapologetically sexist.
The story once again follows Eggsy (Taron Egerton), now a fully-fledged Kingsman agent, and his pursuit of the Golden Circle, a drug cartel run by the delightful but sociopathic Poppy (Julianne Moore).
This is where Kingsman: The Golden Circle takes its first misstep: Poppy’s character is terrible. She’s campy, her plan is ridiculous, and her motivations are contrived. She’s what I’d imagine a full-length movie about Jared Leto’s Joker would be like.
The second misstep is its other characters — there are too many of them. Its star-studded cast desperately fight each other for screen time, which results in none of their characters getting a fulfilling arc. Hell, Channing Tatum is only on screen for ten minutes despite him taking center stage in all of the movie’s trailers.
These factors make for a bad, but enjoyable movie. But what really makes Kingsman: The Golden Circle irredeemable is its overt sexism against women. It emphasized the idea that it’s okay to treat women like shit. And not only that it’s okay, but that it’s also cool, and it’s funny.
People were paid to make this movie, and many more paid to see it. The fact that such a misogynistic movie can be financially viable in 2017 is flat out disappointing.
Case in point: There’s a scene in the movie where Eggsy and a fellow male spy must plant a tracking device on a woman. The catch is the tracker must be placed in her vagina to function properly. Because reasons. Without skipping a beat, Eggsy and his fellow spy make a game of seducing the woman in order to finger her, fuck her, and complete the mission. Charming.
Eggsy wins the woman’s affection, and before fucking her, he graciously calls his long-term girlfriend to ask permission (being a Kingsman means being a gentleman, after all). His girlfriend is deeply upset by this and says no. So being the gentleman he is, Eggsy only fingers his target to plant the tracker and no more, which I suspect we’re supposed to interpret as him being the good guy because he didn’t technically have sex with her.
This is just one of the slough of sexist encounters in the movie. The other female characters include Eggsy’s girlfriend (the woman from the first movie who rewarded him with anal sex for saving the world); another Kingsman agent named Roxy who is quickly sidelined; and Ginger (Halle Berry), whose motivation is her desire to become a spy herself, and is granted this desire at the end of the movie by a table filled entirely with men, as if to say, “Look, now there’s a woman agent at the table too, and she had screen time to boot!”
If I had to give praise to Kingsman: The Golden Circle for anything, it would be its direction. Matthew Vaughn is still very good at that. But it is not nearly enough to save it from its consistent sexism against women and painfully overcrowded narrative. The movie serves as a reminder that there’s still a long way to go when it comes to writing women as people, and that this kind of rampant sexism is both disappointing and unacceptable. Save yourself a movie ticket and two and a half hours of your life on this one, and just go and watch Mad Max: Fury Road instead if you’re looking for an action movie.