Review / ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ (MA) ** and a half

THIS is the first (another has been announced) sequel to the 2014 comedy actioner about a secret British spy agency that operates out of a London tailoring shop.

Like its predecessor, it stars Colin Firth as Harry, out-secret-agenting lesser secret agents such as J. Bond and J. Bourne. The plot is well advanced before Harry makes an appearance. Until then, we must make do with Harry’s young acolyte Eggsy (Taron Egerton) who is cast from the same mould.

There is a villain, naturally. More correctly, a villainess. Her name is Poppy and the luscious Julianne Moore plays her with consummate ease. Poppy wants to become even richer. So she arranges to infect the world’s population with a malign illness then offers to supply the antidote for a fee.

Uncle Sam isn’t going to let that happen without a fight. And it happens that a Kentucky whisky distillery is home to Statesman, with similar functions to Kingsman and a bunch of alcoholically-named operatives. Jeff Bridges plays its leader Champ – an abbreviation of Champagne.

We’ve seen this film’s like in various guises. Its chiefest virtue is that it knows the value of humour to leaven its doughy improbabilities. For that reason, I commend Elton John playing not only piano but also a Statesman operative wearing flamboyant drag while fighting the good fight with the best of them. He, Ms Moore and a pair of mechanical killer dogs turn out to be the best parts of a film that would have taken no harm by leaving more of its 140 minutes on the cutting room floor.

At all cinemas

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