There’s something refreshing about a film that embraces its own ridiculousness; it’s a shot of Apple Sourz straight to your grey-matter. Certain genres are unavoidably daft, so wrapping them in grounded seriousness sucks a lot of the joy away. Superheroes are a prime example. Movies such as Logan and The Dark Knight are fab, yes, but there’s a lot to be said for comic book weirdness as well. Villains like ‘Crazy Quilt’ or Batman’s ‘Bat Train’ are delightfully crap, for instance.
It’s the same for spy-flicks. Indeed, Kingsman: The Golden Circle threw its baseball cap into the ring this week. Matthew Vaughn’s ode to classic Bond reminds us what was so special about it in the first place; although the modern, Craig-led iteration is good for several reasons, you can’t beat 70s-era 007 for tongue-in-cheek absurdity. Accordingly, The Golden Circle is one Close Encounters of the Third Kind jingle away from Moonraker. It’s cheeky, self-aware, and completely off its rocker. I loved it precisely for that reason.
It also made me remember how much fun a daftly themed supervillain can be. Forget plots to uproot decedent Western society. This film’s baddie runs a 50s-themed diner in the South American jungle. She also has robot guard-dogs at her beck-and-call, not to mention a bowling alley. Oh, and a penchant for turning foes into hamburgers. It’s barking mad and completely delightful.
The only problem I had turned up mid-way through the film, actually; it’s an exaggerated mockery of elder Bond that I was uncomfortable revisiting. If you’ve seen the latest Kingsman, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
As Vaughn mentions in an interview with The Independent, scenes like this and its companion in the original were ‘supposed to be funny and a wink to “can you believe this is how they used to end movies?”’. And I get that; there’s a lot of humour to be mined in doing so. It also puts its hero in a bind that plays on guilt to great effect. However, when does humour end and good taste begin? Was there another, less fabricated way to achieve the same result? It felt unnecessary and left something of a bitter taste in my mouth.
I bring this up because it’d be a shame for people to shake their heads and remember that one moment when The Golden Circle is mentioned. It’s much more than that. In fact, the film is an object lesson in having fun. Grounded genre movies are excellent, but there’s no reason to brush over their daft history either.