Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

“Home Again” is also new to Blu-Ray this week.

The estate of the late singer/song writer John Denver must have had a deal on Channing Tatum movies that use his song, “Take Me Home Country Roads.” “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is the second Tatum movie this year, alongside “Logan Lucky,” to feature the song. This makes “Kingsman” the third movie this year, also including “Alien: Covenant,” to feature the song. It’s a great song, but I hope movies don’t become too saturated with it. Doing so would make movies less unique and make the song less of a joy to listen to. If it ever comes to the point where I hear the song and think to myself, “Oh, this again,” then I’ll know we’re in trouble. Three is okay though.

As for the movie itself, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” doesn’t exactly re-invent the wheel after the success of its 2014 predecessor, but it does what all great sequels do: It takes the best elements of the first movie and amps them up to be bigger, better, and more.

Taron Egerton is back as Eggsy, this time all grown up and filling out his bespoke Savile Row suit quite nicely. Unfortunately for him, rejected Kingsman applicant Charlie (Edward Holcroft), still holding a grudge after the events of the first movie, ruins Eggsy’s suit in an opening car chase/shootout/first fight that perfectly sets up what’s to come in the movie ahead. Their struggle in the back seat of a cab as each one tries to get the upper hand on the other is one of the most fun, inventive, imaginative, and well-staged fights I’ve seen in a long time.

It’s also exemplary of the fights seen in “Kingsman.” They’re more akin to ballet than they are to combat. There is a physicality and grace of moment to them that is almost beautiful to watch—even if the two characters involved in the “dance” are trying to kill each other.

Less beautiful are the actions of psychopathic drug cartel mastermind Poppy (Julianne Moore). Her overly pleasant demeanor hides a quiet contempt and rage at the slightest indiscretion. Her favorite punishments include sticking transgressors into a giant meat grinder to literally make hamburger out of them, or have them torn apart by her two vicious mechanical dogs, whom she named Bennie and Jet. The origin of their names becomes abundantly apparent when we learn that Poppy has kidnapped Elton John (as himself) and forces him to play command performances at her whim.

Charlie, as it turns out, works for Poppy. Poppy uses his knowledge of the Kingsman hideout and residences to launch a missile attack and wipe them out. The only ones who manage to survive are Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong). The two men follow their emergency protocol and seek refuge at their counterpart service in the United States, called Statesman. Statesman are based in Kentucky, so of course, they make whiskey. You have to figure that it was either that or fried chicken. It’s at Statesman where Eggsy and Merlin meet agent Tequila (Tatum), tech genius Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), and head honcho Champ (Jeff Bridges). They also re-team with Harry (Colin Firth), who was saved from his fate in the previous movie by some pretty amazing technology but isn’t exactly who he used to be.

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” wouldn’t be a secret agent spy movie if there wasn’t some dastardly plot to harm the world. In this case, Poppy has laced her drugs with a poison, and unless the President of the United States (Bruce Greenwood) legalizes all drugs, she will not release the antidote and millions around the world will die. It’s up to the remaining agents of Kingsman, in conjunction with Statesman, to save the day.

This movie is all spectacle, and that’s just fine. To say that it never takes itself too seriously is an understatement. Adjectives like preposterous barely cover how to describe this movie, and it’s all in good fun. Nothing is ever too brutal or graphic—just ridiculous—and “Golden Circle” even has fun at the first movie’s expense by turning Harry’s classic pub fight on its head, while at the same time showing what hot shot American agent Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) can do.

The down side of such a buoyant, tongue in cheek movie is that there are key scenes in which tragic events occur. Since this movie is not to be taken seriously, I didn’t feel emotionally invested enough to really care about what happened to characters I maybe would have cared more about in a different movie. But “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” ends well and looks ahead to the future of the franchise, so it is a worthwhile sacrifice to make. Buy it on Amazon: Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle [Blu-ray].

Also New This Week

Home Again

Dear readers, allow me to give you some insight into how my role here at works. Our wise and noble editor-in-chief/publisher, Dan Hudak, gives me free reign. Each week, I get to choose the movies I want to shine a spotlight on—for better or for worse. I am in no way obligated, assigned, or forced to watch anything. I bring this up because even I can’t understand why I purposely and of my own free will chose to watch “Home Again.”

The one and only aspect of this painfully flat and flavorless movie that I find appealing, even in retrospect, is Reese Witherspoon. I genuinely like her in just about anything, and she is one of the sweeter and more likeable actresses to ever grace the big screen. It’s just too bad for me that she chose to be in this movie.

In “Home Again” Witherspoon plays Alice, recent divorcee and daughter of a once famous movie director. After her divorce, she and her two daughters Isabel (Lola Flanery) and Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield) move from New York to her childhood home in Los Angeles to start fresh. It happens to be her birthday, and at her party in a restaurant one evening, she happens upon three aspiring filmmakers: Harry (Pico Alexander), George (Jon Rudnitsky), and Teddy (Nat Wolff). They are down on their luck and need a place to stay. Alice’s mother (Candice Bergen), a retired actress, takes a liking to the three young men after they flatter her ego by praising her work in movies past, so she convinces Alice to let them stay in her guest house.

I can’t help the nagging suspicion that this movie exists mostly to provide fap material for middle aged women. To wit: Two out of the three young men care about Alice and want to be with her; her ex-husband (Michael Sheen) wants her back; her friends are jealous; her business is taking off; she has multiple empowering moments where she gets to speak her mind; and through it all she learns to love herself so that she can love others. For me, this is gag material.

The movie tries to make her complex by having depression be her big weakness, but that’s about it. The movie hits all the clichés of contrivance, including an asinine reason why Alice gets upset with Teddy (I can understand disappointed, but upset is overboard), a fist fight between Harry and the ex-husband, and the relatively new hack writer plot device of will George make it in time to see Isabel go on stage for a school play. For a movie like this, you get one guess. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of watching it to find out if you’re right. Skip it.

The Trip to Spain

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon follow up their 2014 “The Trip to Italy” with “The Trip to Spain,” with the expected droll results. The formula is the same: the two old friends play themselves and embark on a week long journey, visiting six major tourist destinations in the country to see the sights and more importantly, to have meals together in which they have very funny—and at times very honest—conversations with each other.

The highlight of these meals are the impressions. Each of the two men are skilled in doing a multitude of impressions. Their most well known is of Michael Caine, and they briefly bring it out in “The Trip to Spain.” However, Roger Moore is the one they concentrate on the most for this movie, though they also nail Mick Jagger and, impressively, John Hurt. What makes the impressions even more entertaining is that not only do they do them well, but each man also critiques the impressions the other does. Their straightforward honesty is refreshing, especially for two men who live in the UK, a country in which there is no freedom of speech protection, so “offending” someone can be a criminal offense (seriously, look it up). It’s a good thing these two are such great friends.

The only real flaw in “Trip to Spain” is that it overstays its welcome. The movie should have ended much sooner than it did, rather than going off on a very weird tangent. It would have been better off for it. Still though, this is a “Trip” worth taking. Rent it.

More New Releases: “Detroit,” drama about the 1967 Detroit riots, starring John Boyega, John Krasinski, and Anthony Mackie; and speaking of Michael Caine, “Pulp,” one of the hidden gems of Caine’s career, in which Caine plays a writer of pulp novels who is hired by an aging movie star (Mickey Rooney) to ghost write his autobiography.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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