From the very opening scene of the Kingsman sequel, we know we're in trouble. Every excess, every indulgence, every camera trick that threatened to derail the original film is writ large, and it's clear that nobody is trying to control this train any more.
The first scene was so badly structured, shot and edited that I assumed it was going to transpire to be a dream sequence, or some sort of hologramatic projection training system. It was like the terrible Bond opening scenes where they do the fake Bond death sequence but it's so obviously shit that it doesn't work. But, no, I was wrong, dear reader. This was 100% legitimate.
And that was, sadly, as the rest of the film was to proceed. It seems like every decision the filmmakers made was the wrong one. It's hard to conceive of what they could have done to ruin this film any more than they actually did. In terms of drop off between first film and second, this has to be a contender for the worst sequel ever made.
One of the principal problems is the visual style, where Matthew Vaughn has apparently given up any pretence of maintaining reality and instead has given us something akin to a cutaway scene from a video game in the late nineties. Every fight scene is a series of short shots stitched together with not-quite-good-enough CGI trickery that gives the whole thing a feeling of watching a cartoon. And not a very good one.
Everything looks fake. Be it a monkey jumping across a jungle or Taron Egerton's hair, there is nothing real here. And that extends to the plot as well; the characterisations are childish and often nonsensical; the plot choices are ridiculous; the villain's scheme doesn't really make enough sense and we don't get enough back story to justify her in any way. The attempts at emotional resonance hit with all the delicacy and grace of Elton John kicking someone in the face with a platform boot (which happens in this film, by the way).
To give credit to the actors, none of them really do anything wrong but they are badly served by the material. Julianne Moore has clearly just turned up for the paycheque and so makes nothing of a character that could have been interesting if given more development. The only person to come out of this looking good is Edward Holcroft, who, although ostensibly reprising his character from the original, is to all intents and purposes extremely different in both personality and looks, thus giving him a marvellous opportunity to display his acting range.
This is one of those sequels that is so bad that it makes you start judging the original more harshly and you start to notice all the negative elements that you had previously forgiven in enjoyment of the overall film.
If there is any justice in the world then this abomination will have killed off the franchise before it's had a chance to get going and Matthew Vaughn can go away and think about what he's done. However, I'm sure we'll see Kingsman 3 in a couple of years.
If you really liked the original and have a strong stomach, there are probably a few scenes in the middle that you'll get on with. Otherwise, stay away; 3/10