On a global level, Kingsman: The Golden Circle works as an action movie. Yet, there’s still a reason its reviews aren’t that great. Something about the movie must not work in the same way the first one did. My guess is that the scenes, though innovative, are even more gory than the first. That, and the fact that the conventions aren’t as surprising as they were in the first movie.
Here’s a look at the micro-level, or the scenes, to see what’s happening and what might not be working.
Once more, be warned. Spoilers Ahead.
Poppy takes down the Kingsman. She hacks their computer, gets information on everyone, and blows up the Kingsman members one by one.
Inciting Incident. Charlie attacks Eggsy. They fight and, though he wins, Eggsy doesn’t know that the arm Charlie lost still works and is in his car.
Complication. Eggsy has dinner with the King and Queen of Sweden and has to impress them because he’s dating their daughter. During the dinner, Roxy is feeding him all the answers he needs using their glasses. He’s doing well up until the point when he sees his friend, Brandon, playing with the grenade lighter. He yells at him to put it away, startling the dinner guests. (Turning Point: just when we think Brandon is safe, he, along with every other Kingsman member, is blown up.)
Crisis. Should Eggsy and Merlin trust each other? They are the only surviving members of the Kingsman and neither knows what’s going on.
Climax. Merlin shows Eggsy Charlie’s arm and explains what happened. The two enact the Doomsday protocol. They go buy wine using tasting room three where they will, hopefully, find an answer to all their problems.
Resolution. Inside the wall is a safe that contains a single bottle of whiskey. Together, they drink it and drown out their sorrows at having lost their fellow comrades.
Poppy amps up the tension. She has poisoned a huge portion of the population. Eggsy has to decide what he’ll do in order to get his hands on the antidote and deals with Harry being alive, but potentially brain damaged.
Inciting Incident. Eggsy sees the Statesman symbol on the whiskey bottle and him and Merlin decide to go to Kentucky together.
Complication. Statesman allows Merlin and Eggsy to use their resources. They find out Harry is alive and, thanks to Eggsy, he eventually remembers Kingsman. Eggsy has to betray Tilde in order to get access to the location of the antidote. And, a huge portion of the population is subjected to the largest scale hostage situation ever that will result in their death. Also, Whiskey breaks the antidote.
Crisis. Does Eggsy trust Harry and let Whiskey die? Should he let Statesman and Merlin know that Harry is potentially compromised and that he shot Whiskey?
Climax. Eggsy saves Whiskey, thinks Harry is mentally compromised, and doesn’t tell Statesman that Harry shot Whiskey. Eventually, Harry tells Merlin himself that he shot Whiskey because he thinks he’s working against them.
Resolution. Charlie blows up the entire building with the antidote in it even though his girlfriend, Claire, was inside.
An Innovative Scenes
One thing I will note is that this movie does innovate their traditional scenes. For example, when Harry finally regains his faculties, Eggsy and Whiskey take him to a bar. Guys there pick a fight and it looks as if Harry will once again kick their asses. He even starts with his “Manners maketh man” speech. However, when he hooks the beer mug with his umbrella, it doesn’t hit the guy in the forehead. Instead, Whiskey catches it and has to take over fighting with his lasso. The audience, rather than sitting through another viewing of the same fight scene they’ve already viewed now gets to see what Whiskey is capable of. It’s an exciting scene that gives the audience something they weren’t initially expecting.
Inciting Incident. Their only lead takes them to Cambodia.
Complication. Tilde has smoked weed and calls Eggsy. He finds out that she is poisoned and decides that he can no longer stand by hoping to get his hands on the antidote to replicate it. He, Merlin, and Harry take off to Cambodia together. There Eggsy steps on a land mine and Merlin takes his place. They fight their way to Poppy destroying Charlie and the robot dogs in the process.
Crisis. How can they get Poppy to give them the code?
Climax. They inject her with heroin that speeds up the effects of her poison so she has to release the code in order to save herself.
Resolution. She tells them the code is Viva Las Vegan.
Crisis. How can Eggsy punch in the code to save everyone, but not lose Harry to Whiskey?
Climax. Eggsy and Harry fight Whiskey, who ends up in a meat grinder.
Resolution. The antidote is released and the world finds out that the president wasn’t going to help them.
Poppy isn’t as strong as a villain as Valentine was. She’s a 50’s housewife gone bad, but her motives don’t work as well. The reason being that Valentine might have been crazy, but his goal was to save the world. Poppy, however, wants to legalize the drug industry. It’s selfish. And, not everyone believes drugs such as heroin should be legalized. Not only that, the way to go about legalizing it isn’t to poison people who use it.
Whiskey’s reason for wanting the drug users to die is weak. Yes, the story about how his wife was killed is tragic. It makes him more of a person rather than a cartoon mustache-twirling villain. But, it doesn’t seem strong enough for him to let millions of people die either.
That could be why The Golden Circle wasn’t as well-received as the first movie. Though, I still think the movie works. It’s just not as good as the first one. Next week, I’ll take a look at how you can bring in its good elements into your own writing.