Logic Fixeth Film – 5 Ways to Fix Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Spoilers!)

When Kingsman: The Secret Service came out back in 2015, it turned out to be among the year’s best films; the comic book adaptation offered an exhilarating and hilarious lampoon on the spy genre, whilst also managing to be a great spy film itself, even surpassing that year’s Bond instalment Spectre.  Naturally, anticipating was high for the sequel. With Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman behind it, we expected a sequel that was at least as good as the original….Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle was a serious misfire that failed to capture the charm of it’s predecessor, and instead felt like a soulless follow up that just insists on admittedly brilliant action sequences with little else going on. I could be okay with The Golden Circle being a dumb action movie if the first one was a dumb action movie, but it really wasn’t. With the film now hitting home media, I’m proposing five ways that this film could have been improved. Not that these suggestions would 100% perfect this mess, but they would at least be a step in the right direction.

Warning: Spoilers from here on out

1. Cut out that ridiculous condom scene

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The weakest part of the first film is easily it’s crass humour; it’s not too prevalent, but the film closes on a particular joke in which Princess Tilde offers Eggsy anal sex in exchange for saving the world, and it really doesn’t amount to much laughs. Now, once again, this sequel doesn’t rely too heavily on rude jokes but there’s one scene in this film that does not sit right at all, and is so alarmingly distasteful for the talent involved. When Eggsy and Whiskey need to plant a tracker in the girlfriend of villain Charlie, Whiskey reveals that the tracker has to be planted in her…um…private place.

….Why? This is a spy film, with all sorts of crazy technology, including the ability to literally bring people back from the dead. I could understand maybe wanting to be different to other spy films in the way the first one was, but did it really have to be in this way? The scene then follows an extreme close up of Eggsy’s hand as he runs down her belly into her underwear where he inserts it, and it’s unbearable. It doesn’t even make for a good laugh, let alone a scene that can be taken seriously or has any reasonable place in a film like this. Just have him stick it literally anywhere else…There are much funnier holes in the body which can lead to much more awkward scenarios. Even if they insist on having it done in this way – The scene does offer a conflict for Eggsy as he has to perform this sexual act while dating Princess Tilde, though that itself is something that could be done away with – It didn’t have to be shot the way it was, in such an uncomfortable, unfunny fashion.

2. Give Eggsy a different loved one

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So as revealed early on in the film, Eggsy is now dating the Swedish princess he saved at the end of the first film, and it’s one of the most bizarre things about the film. While it does genuinely lend to the drama, her inclusion as a major player feels like a poor attempt to save the joke from being the crass closer that it was. It’s truly hard to take seriously at any point, which is why they’d have been better off introducing a new character altogether to play the role of his girlfriend. That way, the set up can essentially stay the same, with things like meeting the parents and having to cheat etc. contribute to the character’s personal conflict, but with the added benefit of a partner who’s unaware of his real job, which you can say it’s cliche’d but given that this is a film that embraces and parodies the overused tropes of it’s genre, it would hardly stand out.

3. Please spare us from Elton John

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It was no secret that music legend Elton John would be making a cameo appearance in this film, and there would have been nothing wrong with that; cameos can be a film’s funniest moment if executed well, but the problem with Elton is that he goes far beyond being just a cameo, and is almost a supporting character. Elton has been kidnapped by villain Poppy and is forced to put on personal shows for her, before being used to show off the effects of her latest drug. That could have been it, and it would have been absolutely fine…But no. He just has to keep coming back, and most annoyingly becomes a part of the action towards the end. The climactic assault on Poppy’s 50s themed lair is absolutely brilliant, but is nearly ruined by Elton joining in on the fight in the most sickeningly on the nose way. I get that it’s supposed to be silly, but this is a genuinely exhilarating sequence that has to stop for this goofy presence to have the most ridiculous moments. Keep the cameo to a cameo, and stop drawing from the same well.

Now, this next one is by far the most important one…

4. Don’t bring back Colin Firth

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Colin Firth was an undeniably essential and brilliant part of the first film; acting a wise and dedicated mentor to Eggsy, he was instantly lovable and became the most interesting character, which made his sudden death at the hands of Richie Valentine all the more shocking and heartbreaking. But it was a perfect death, one that motivated the rest of the story and was a perfect example of breaking the rules of the spy genre. As Valentine himself even says “This ain’t that kind of movie”. So for them to just bring him back immediately in the next film completely undercuts this perfect moment in the first and almost retroactively ruins it to be completely honest. True, his arc in the film does have some genuine emotion to it, but still feels just entirely unnecessary. He plays a solid part as Eggsy’s partner, but there were two other characters in this film that easily could have taken place. Unfortunately, they are literally blown up and frozen out of the film.

It was absolutely criminal to not use Eggsy’s fellow agent Roxie or new American companion Tequila, played by Channing Tatum, in this position and just go back to Firth, as it marks a huge insistence to move forward with the franchise and let someone else take the spotlight. It’s actually insulting to have Tatum’s character in this film for such little time and then immediately be done with him when there was plenty of potential for a humorous pair up with our British hero, and it was clear that he was capable of the death defying action feats required by the film. Alternatively, if they were still aiming for someone that he’s close to, Eggsy and Roxie are good friends, and their partnership could have brought real heart to the centre of the film and finally given some much needed screen time to this completely underdeveloped character. It just seems creatively bankrupt to insist on bringing back someone who was literally shot in the head to make a stern point about the kind of film it was making, as opposed to bringing the heat with an exciting new presence.

However, I get the impression that Firth was always going to be a major part of this sequel. As such, I felt it only appropriate to include one suggestion that accommodates his return to the franchise:

5. Have Harry be wrong about Whiskey

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Harry’s arc in The Golden Circle focuses largely on his struggle to return to the business after having his memory jogged, which he lost following his death. At the very least, it’s an interesting route to take the character, but totally unfulfilling. We get scenes of him not being able to fight the way he used to, being less observant, seeing butterflies etc. but if there was any moment in this film that made me think that it could have been saved, it was the unexpected moment that Harry shoots Statesman colleague Whiskey in the head, believing him to be part of the enemy organisation. Now just imagine this: Harry in his overconfidence shoots Whiskey, but is actually completely wrong about him. He was a good guy, and Harry has proven once and for all that he’s just not cut out for this role anymore. It’s a serious mistake, that shakes his confidence until it has to be restored by Eggsy who admits that he needs him for their attack and he trains a little before entering the battlefield. They tear stuff up, then Whiskey is revived and wants revenge. He’s been putting up with these Brits, and hasn’t trusted Harry for the whole film. This mistake drives him to drop the mission and take him out, which can then lead to the actual final fight that takes place with him. Sounds great, right?

Well, that’s not what happens. The apparently struggling to adjust Harry is completely right about Whiskey, who reveals himself to be a villain at the end of the film, and it’s so unexciting. Imagine actually having a flawed hero mess up badly and face the consequences for it. That would have been engaging, it would have been interesting and in a film series that subverts expectation, it would have really meant something. Instead, it completely undermines Harry’s arc, and even further negates his need to be in this film.

I’m not saying The Golden Circle is a completely abysmal film; the action is fun and Merlin’s death really hits a nerve, but ultimately, the final product feels like a shallow and undeserving follow up to a great original.

What do you think of our improvements? Would you change it at all? Let us know in the comments.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle 
is available on DVD and Blu-Ray now.


Hounds of Love – Review

You may not know of the murders committed in Perth, Australia in the 80s that Hounds of Love is loosely inspired by. However, there’s a good chance your county has its own story of the crime. Heterosexual male/female couple abducting girls to rape, torture and kill. The Canadian Barbie and Ken killers, British House of Horrors, Hounds of Love captures a thoroughly fascinating crime. The car accident you pass and can’t help but look at. An awful and inexcusable crime.

First time director and writer, Ben Young, has drawn together a minimalist suspense film of sadism and suburban horror.  The tension of this first time feature is palpable early on. From the wide, sweeping tracking shot as we follow one of the killers to bury their most recent victim, to the trusting teenager looking to score some pot on a sweltering Summer’s evening.

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When a potential new victim, Vicki, is picked up by married couple, John & Evelyn, this becomes, essentially, a three person film. A solidly dependable supporting cast, including the revered Susie Porter, rallies around our leads.

Well known Aussie comic, Stephen Curry, perhaps best known for his larrikin roles in Australian classic, The Castle and a string of comedies, plays the manipulative rapist and killer, John. It’s not only his dirty mo’ that shocked Australian viewers. His embodiment of that sleaze that women have run into at a bar is palpable. Outside of his home, his castle, John is bullied, considered weak and vulnerable. At home, John rapes kidnapped girls. Popular Australian actress Ashleigh Cummings shows a more considered range. This time we care about how her fate as her story unfolds. However, it is Emma Booth playing John’s wife, and fellow rapist, Evelyn, that drives this film. Booth is a revelation. Following some lesser experience in Australian telly, audiences will come away asking where in the world Booth came from. She is frightening, vulnerable and complicit. Highly suggestible, and guilty as the day is long, Booth imbues Evelyn with agonising shame and desire.

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Even as a first feature film, Young is a self-assured director. Young understands the audience’s growing apprehension when they see the bloodied implements on the floor, not needing to show viewers violent rape and other horrors. Young knows that time you snuck out of your parents’ house, that time you turned a seemingly friendly stranger down and wondered afterwards if you narrowly escaped a headline. The visual tone is quite arresting in its simplicity. Reminiscent of 80s suburban Australia are the square houses, cluttered mantelpieces, the VB beer bottles collecting on the dinky lino kitchen floor. Soft coloured tones underline the sweltering Christmas heat. The bogan (Australian for chav) clothing dresses and accurately depicts a recognisable neighbourhood.

That these crimes are recognisable across the world is frightening. The very human faces of this sickening human behaviour are made relatable without dulling their crimes. A haunting and heart stopping score complements the excellent locations. Ben Young is a director to look out for.

Hounds of Love is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

The Wife – Review

Glenn Close is a phenomenal performer. Her work as an actress has spanned decades and have produced some of the most ground-breaking roles of all time. Perhaps best known as the infamous bunny boiler in romantic thriller Fatal Attraction, Close has immersed herself in such great films such as Dangerous Liaisons, 101 Dalmatians, Paradise Road, and has even played a mournful pirate in Hook. With all these under her belt, and many Academy Award nominations (but no wins…why Hollywood?),  you could say she is one of our best actresses.

That being said, Close is truly at the top of her game in the brilliant drama The Wife.

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Directed by Bjorn Runge and based on a book by Meg Wolzter, The Wife revolves around Joan Castleman who has spent many years supporting the literary career of her husband Joe, despite being a writer herself. When he wins the Nobel Prize for Literature, they are initially jubilant and are whisked off on a celebratory trip to Sweden for a lavish presentation ceremony. However, the journey may prove fateful for the pair Joan starts to unravel and dark secrets start pouring out. It doesn’t help that they are hounded by a biographer who is threatening to bring those secrets to light…

Glenn Close is phenomenal in Runge’s heavy-handed but emotive movie about a wife on the edge of her own becoming. She delves deep into the intricacies of this character whilst deftly handling her outwards persona. Close is soft in her approach to Joan, giving her patience and duty, whilst still stoking the fires of rage and passion beneath. With just a rise of her eyebrow or a well-placed pursed lip, Close conveys so many words, thoughts, and feelings. It is not just a great performance, it is an impeccable one and one of the few places where the movie anchors itself with some depth.

There are many issues with The Wife. The gender politics are not explored enough in comparison to their relationship. It’s a muted movie, granted, and has a lot of subtleties here that a viewer can read into but a film such as The Wife needs to be firmer with its look at how the past and present silence the voices of women. With this flaw it seems that The Wife is just paddling in shallow waters. This is made clearer with flashbacks that, despite revealing truths to them, actually have little weight to them even with performances by Harry Lloyd and Annie Stark (Close’s daughter.)

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Bjorn Runge’s background in theatre directing shows. Though he adeptly handles the piece here, the scenes can feel stifled with clear direction and lazy set-ups. The transition from paper to page loses fluidity and mars the film’s intensity which only bursts out into full boom by the penultimate sequences. Whilst Runge proves a good cinematic director, he isn’t a great one here.

With support from Jonathon Pryce, Max Irons, and Christian Slater, The Wife is merely an perfect pedestal to parade Glenn Close’s formidable performance to the world. And we can hardly grumble too much about that.

The Wife is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!