I have never seen such excitement by movie fans as I witnessed in London the other night. The circus had truly come to town as Kingsman swallowed up Leicester Square.  There was a plethora of stars who turned out for the Premier and each one delighted to be working with director Matthew Vaughn.
Star names  were - Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Julianne Moore, Channing Tatum, Hanna Alström, Keith Allen, Pedro Pascal, Edward Holcroft, Poppy Delevingne, Sophie Cookson and Sir Elton John (I kid you not!).
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Eggsy, Harry and Whisky
It was back in 2014 when a British secret service agent called Harry Hart ‘code name Galahad’ (Colin Firth) recruited a young rough and unrefined London lad called Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and trained him up to be a Kingsman, defenders of the downtrodden and saviours of the World.

The film came from a 2012 Mark Millar graphic novel Kingsman: The Secret Service and was turned into a screenplay by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, who also directed the Movie which became Kingsman: The Secret Service the Movie. This film was in the right place at the right time and the 007 spoof delighted the British audience with its action-packed fight sequences, a razor-sharp wit and an unusual chalk and cheese relationship.

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Tequila and Ginger Beer
Fast forward to 2017 and Eggsy has matured into a real gent of an agent but maintains his London roots. His friend and mentor Harry was murdered by Samuel L Jackson’s character Valentine at the end of the first outing. But faithful gadget man Merlin (Mark Strong) is back still looking out for Eggsy and doing his best Sean Connery. There is also a new man in charge, Arthur ( Michael Gambon).

Eggsy bumps into an old adversary Charlie (Edward Holcroft) who went through the Kingsman training school with him but now works for the Dark side, funny enough he actually has an artificial hand as well! This opening scene turns into a thrilling fight in the back of a black cab and on the roof and the open door while speeding through the streets of London. A great opener to the film.
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The Kingsman headquarters get blown up by the unknown organisation who Charlie works for, leaving Eggsy and Merlin to look for help with their American counter parts, The Statesman who reside in a whisky brewery in the heart of Kentucky.

There first encounter with The Statesman brings Eggsy and Merlin face to face with ‘Good Ole Boy’ Tequila (Channing Tatum) complete with massive Stetson and shotgun. (naturally!). Tequila introduces them to The Champ (Jeff Bridges) head of The Statesmen and the rest of the team, data analyst Ginger Beer (Halle Berry) and Whisky (Pedro Pascal, Netflix Narcos and Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones) another cowboy with laser whip (this is almost getting into innuendo territory now). Plus, they have a special surprise in the form of an old Kingsman colleague.
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Jeff Bridges The Champ
There shared Nemesis comes in the guise of Poppy (Julianne Moore) a psychotic megalomaniac who has a thing about 50s TV programmes and her secret Vietnam hideaway is in the form of a 50’s Diner in the middle of the jungle, where she makes handmade burgers using a man size meat mincer…you’re way ahead of me here. Moore is obviously having fun with this character and camps it up to eleven. But not as much as her hostage Sir Elton John (played by Sir Elton John) who she kidnapped and forces him to perform private gigs or get an electric shock.

Poppy deals in all kinds of drugs and just wants to be taken seriously as a business woman. So, she decides to teach the world a lesson by flooding the market with her own brand of deadly narcotics but can the joint agencies Kingsman and Statesman save the world together?
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So basically, that’s the plot. Pretty similar to the first movie in the saving the World stakes but then again I suppose James Bond was always saving the World as well.

But was this film any good?

I loved the first Kingsman. It was fresh and it was a new take on the spy genre but done with flair and at the same time brash and loud. It was the Professor Higgins / Eggsy Doolittle relationship that made it likeable.

Unfortunately, (I’m sorry to say) the plot isn’t strong enough and with a running time of two hours twenty minutes, it’s stretched out too long. Having the big US stars was a nice touch but Channing Tatum’s character doesn’t have enough screen time and would have liked to have seen his character getting more involved and Halle Berry’s Ginger Beer is also underused.

Jeff Bridges, who I always love to watch, mumbles his way through the film but the man does have screen presence. And just to get a liitle bit ‘Points of View’. “Why, why why?” was Sir Elton John asked to be part of the plot? If you use a famous face as a cameo, it’s funny that one time but he keeps popping up as himself ‘Effing & Jeffing’ in extended silly cameos which waters down the storyline that we, as an audience have been asked to invest in.

The other minor gripe I have, is bringing a couple of characters (who clearly died in the first movie) back from the dead. This sort of takes away any feeling of danger with the main protagonists, as you know there’s a chance they will pop up maybe in a wheelchair in the next sequel.
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Merlin
I only have one more grumble which is an unnecessary icky-scene as Eggsy has to plant a tracking device, literally inside the lady parts of Clara, Charlie’s girlfriend (played by Poppy Delevingne) so Clara can lead Eggsy and Merlin to a secret drug factory. Most of the audience made an ‘Eyew!’ sound in unison.

Having said all that, there are some great moments of comedy and a few good action set pieces to savour. Pedro Pascal as agent Whiskey was a great addition to the cast looking like Burt Reynolds in his prime from Smokey and the Bandit…check it out kids! Matthew Vaughn was looking for a Reynolds type for the role.

Taron Egerton is solid, as is Mark Strong as Merlin but it’s not enough to save the film in my opinion.

But I’m sure it will make a huge amount of money if the Leicester Square crowd was anything to go by.  I think this time the media hype was bigger than the film.

Three out of five stars.

Released in UK cinemas September 20.