Archive for the Action/Adventure Category

The Hateful Eight

Posted in Action/Adventure, Drama, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In Quentin Tarantino’s stylish Western set in post-Civil War Wyoming, eight travelers stranded at a stagecoach way station — including bounty hunters, outlaws and former soldiers — become enmeshed in a duplicitous plot as a savage blizzard rages outside.

What people are saying:

The Hateful Eight is a parlour-room epic, an entire nation in a single room, a film steeped in its own filminess but at the same time vital, riveting and real. Only Tarantino can do this, and he’s done it again” 4 stars

“The closing scene, amidst harrowing brutality, is poetically powerful and is without a shadow of a doubt, Tarantino’s crowning achievement as an auteur” 5 stars

“While this movie is definitely worth watching, even at nearly three hours in length, I found it too mannered and self-indulgent to give it any more than three stars. I realize that Tarantino likes to pay homage to his favorite old movies, but sometimes he overdoes it. For example, the lighting in the interior scenes is extremely unrealistic, and I’m sure that was done on purpose because it makes it resemble those old movies. But let’s all remember that they lit scenes that way not because they wanted to but because the technology at the time did not allow them to do it in the more realistic way that we are now able to do. Oh, and then there’s the unnecessary narration that jumps in well after the movie has begun. A silly affectation, at best. But if you do watch it, you will certainly enjoy the many fine performances. I especially got a kick out of Jennifer Jason Leigh.” 3 stars

“Pure Trash! Filthy, nasty language-none of it necessary. I don’t believe people talked liked this during this time period. Overuse of the “n” word. Loads of blood and gore which was totally unnecessary as well. It is like the producer is trying to cover up how awful the story is by splashing blood, guts, and gore around. Very slow moving and it looks like the actors/actress cannot deliver timely lines. You are led to believe it is a movie about the Civil War but it turns out to be about a gang out west. Writer definitely wants to deliver a huge negative bias on Southerners by building a belief that these are post-Confederate soldiers gone wild, but in the middle of the film you learn they are an unlawful gang in the West. He leads the viewer to believe the woman had ties to the Confederacy but it turns out she is the sister to the lead gang member who has come to save her from hanging. I was thoroughly insulted and would not recommend this movie to anyone. ” 1 star

“Crossing a Whodunit with a Western, ‘The Hateful Eight’ is full of completely over-the-top violence and profane language, so much so that it is almost laughable – it’s undoubtedly a Tarantino film. With a running time approaching 3 hrs, there are more than a few lulls and an absurd amount of (unnecessary) dialogue, but with its beautiful cinematography and rising tension, there’s always something going on and it’s never truly boring. The biggest problem here is that it’s in need of some serious editing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining providing you’re not put off by Tarantino’s ridiculous style.” 3 1/2 stars

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Thor: Ragnarok

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Two years after the Battle of Sokovia, Thor has been unsuccessfully searching for the Infinity Stones, and is now imprisoned by the fire demon Surtur. Surtur reveals that Thor’s father Odin is no longer on Asgard, and that the realm will soon be destroyed in the prophesied Ragnarök, once Surtur unites his crown with the Eternal Flame that burns in Odin’s vault. Thor defeats Surtur and claims his crown, believing he has prevented Ragnarök.

Thor returns to Asgard to find his brother Loki posing as Odin. Thor forces Loki to help him find their father, and with directions from Stephen Strange on Earth, they locate Odin in Norway. Odin explains that he is dying, and that his passing will allow his firstborn child, Hela, to escape from a prison she was sealed in long ago. Hela had been the leader of Asgard’s armies, and had conquered the Nine Realms with Odin, but had been imprisoned and written out of history after Odin feared that she had become too ambitious. Odin subsequently dies, and Hela, released from her imprisonment, appears. She destroys Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, and when Thor and Loki attempt to flee through the Bifröst Bridge, she pursues them and forces them out into space to die. Hela arrives in Asgard, destroying its army and the Warriors Three; resurrects the ancient dead who once fought with her, including her giant wolf Fenris; and appoints the Asgardian Skurge as her executioner. She plans to use the Bifröst to expand Asgard’s empire, but Heimdall covertly steals the sword that controls the Bridge, and hides away with the rest of Asgard’s citizens.

Thor crash-lands on Sakaar, a garbage planet surrounded by wormholes. He is captured by a bounty hunter named Scrapper 142, and taken to serve as a gladiator for the planet’s ruler, the Grandmaster, with whom Loki has already become ingratiated. Thor recognizes 142 as one of the Valkyrior, a legendary force of female warriors who were killed defending Asgard from Hela long ago. Thor is forced to compete in the Grandmaster’s Contest of Champions, facing his old friend the Hulk. Summoning lightning, Thor almost defeats the Hulk but the Grandmaster sabotages the fight to ensure the Hulk’s victory. Still enslaved, Thor attempts to convince Hulk and 142 to help him save Asgard, but neither is willing. He soon manages to escape the palace and finds the Quinjet that brought Hulk to Sakaar. Hulk follows Thor to the Quinjet, where a recording of Natasha Romanoff makes him transform back into Bruce Banner for the first time since Sokovia.

The Grandmaster orders 142 and Loki to find Thor and Hulk, but the pair come to blows and Loki forces her to relive the deaths of her fellow Valkyrie at the hands of Hela. Deciding to help Thor, she takes Loki captive to prove her goodwill. Unwilling to be left behind, Loki provides the group with the means to steal one of the Grandmaster’s ships. They then liberate the other gladiators who, led by Korg and Miek, stage a rebellion. Loki attempts to betray his brother to gain a reward from the Grandmaster, but Thor anticipates this and leaves him behind, where Korg and the gladiators soon find him. Thor, Banner, and 142 escape through a wormhole to Asgard, where Hela’s forces are attacking Heimdall and Asgard’s citizens. Banner becomes the Hulk again, fighting Fenris, while Thor and 142 battle Skurge and the resurrected warriors. Loki and the gladiators arrive to help, and the citizens board their large ship; a repentant Skurge sacrifices himself to allow their escape. Thor, facing Hela, loses an eye and then has a vision of Odin that helps him realize only Ragnarök can stop Hela. While Hela is distracted, Loki locates Surtur’s crown and places it in the Eternal Flame. Surtur is reborn and destroys Asgard, seemingly killing Hela.

Thor and the others escape with Asgard’s remaining citizens aboard the Grandmaster’s vessel. Thor, crowned king, decides to take his people to Earth. In a mid-credits scene, they are intercepted by a large spacecraft. In a post-credits scene, the Grandmaster encounters a group of his former subjects, who are still rebelling.

REVIEW:

It seems of all the Avengers, aside from Hawkeye, Thor is the biggest butt of all the jokes, mostly on the internet, but a few time in the movies. With his two films, the right tone for the character just could not be locked down. Perhaps Thor: Ragnarok will be the one to solve this dilemma and give us a solid film for such a major Marvel character.

What is this about?

Imprisoned, the almighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

What did I like?

Hela good.

Marvel has been churning out great films, some better than others, since the MCU started. With that said, there is a complaint that seems to be universal among fans and critics. Villains in the Marvel universe just aren’t strong, aside from Loki. Well, Hela has come in and made a name for herself. Not only did she destroy Thor’s hammer, but she took over Asgard, brought and army back from the dead, is pretty much indestructible, and we were given some development to her character. What more could you ask for in an evil, malevolent being…I’m looking at you Ronin the  Accuser (Guardians of the Galaxy)!

Dark World resolution. Thor: The Dark World was not universally loved. It seems as if Marvel wants us to forget about it with as little reference there is to it. Whether you think it was god or bad, the ending of the film needed to be resolved in some way. Loki was masquerading as Odin while the real Odin is apparently on Earth. Thor finds out about this and…well, he’s none to happy. As a matter of fact, this leads to the plot device of this film, now that I think about it. Guess it won’t be forgotten, anymore…at least the final scene.

Individuality. Heimdall has been a pretty badass character in these films…when they give him the chance to do something other than stand guard at the Bifrost. Relieved of his duties, he now saves Asgardian refugees from Hela’s wrath. We also get some interesting individual moments from Thor and Hulk, both of whom have taken a backseat to Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Widow in the Avengers movies.

What didn’t I like?

Surtur. Hela is the big bad of this film (no offense, Grandmaster), but there is another major foe that bookends the film, Surtur. Now, I have a couple of things to say about this guy. First, his design looks like some cheap CGI, but at least its better than Dormammu was in Doctor Strange. Second, as major a force this guy is in the comics, you’d think he would have been more important to the film, perhaps something related to Hela, not counting that “fight” they have at the end. Also, Enchantress could have been brought in and that would have made Skurge’s presence make sense.

New powers. As I mentioned earlier, and you no doubt have seen in the trailers for this film, Hela destroys Thor’s hammer. I was under the impression that Thor’s powers came from his hammer, as was he, apparently. Turns out the hammer was just a way to channel his powers, as Odin tells him. Now, without his hammer, he seems to have developed new powers. The question is, will he keep these new powers, or will they be forgotten come the next film? Also, if he had all this power, why is it just now showing? Seems to me there would have been at least a hint of it before conveniently showing right as Hulk is about to smash his head in.

Hulk. Speaking of Hulk, can we get a definitive decision on his intellect? Sometimes it seems like there is a brain up there and then there are times when he seems like a petulant child. Hulk is a gamma-fueled rage monster with immense strength. Imagine a hyperactive child with that? Oh the horror!

Final verdict on Thor: Ragnarok? Well the lighter tone makes a huge difference! The comedic back and forth between the characters makes a much more entertaining picture than watching them all brood and barely interact. Also, Jeff Goldblum’s over the top Grandmaster would only work in this type of film. The bright colors, bad ass action, and excellent story have many thinking this is one of the best Marvel films of all time. Yes, this is good, but I need to see it again before I can rank it. So, yes, I do recommend this very highly. Perhaps even check it out twice!

4 out of 5 stars

The African Queen

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on November 15, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart), the booze-guzzling, rough-hewn captain of a broken-down East African riverboat, teams with a straitlaced, iron-willed missionary (Katharine Hepburn) to take on a menacing German gunboat during World War I.

What people are saying:

“This movie is in the DNA of rom-coms and buddy-cop comedies and fish-out-of-water tales and Indiana Jones (he bickers and fights Germans too! Plus, dirt beard!).” 5 stars

“Not a moment of film is wasted in this finely-crafted story of adventure and unlikely love. Humphrey Bogart is the drunken captain of the river-running heap, the African Queen. Katherine Hepburn is the prim spinster missionary he offers to take to safety when the Germans invade. Learning that there’s a huge German ship on the lake at the end of the river, Hepburn decides it’s their duty to destroy it – although no one has ever successfully navigated the river.” 5 stars

The African Queen breathes authenticity. Tumultuous at times but calmer at others, Bogart’s and Hepburn’s voyage on an African river is always an exciting adventure, surrounded by a colourful, luxuriant jungle. Yet, the brightness of Huston’s film also lies in the remarkable, contrasting pairing formed by the two stars. The African Queen is a very pleasant occasion to meet two of the most superb actors that Hollywood ever knew.” 4 stars

“I am not particularly fond of Katherine Hepburn and Bogart is not my favorite male cast in a romance. However, in this film, both excel to such a degree and the storyline was so good, that I couldn’t help but love the movie. It’s tough to cast older actors into a 1st-time romance, but the background of the story made it possible and realistic. The special effects were a bit flimsy as you might excpect for a 1951 movie, but overall, I felt like I was there. I appreciated the descrection between the two, making it a clean movie throughout. This is definitely an all-time classic and one of Bogart’s best” 4 1/2 stars

“Heard so much about this movie and have finally seen it. Excellent script, casting, portrayals, and cinematography. If anything, this could have been 20 minutes longer. Shows what effect a distant war can have when a few become patriotic – or romantic.” 4 1/2 stars

London Has Fallen

Posted in Movie Reviews, Action/Adventure with tags , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert):

Western intelligence services of the G8 track down Pakistani arms dealer Aamir Barkawi (Alon Moni Aboutboul) as the mastermind behind several terrorist attacks, and authorize an American drone strike on Barkawi’s compound, apparently killing Barkawi and his family.

Two years later, UK Prime Minister James Wilson suddenly dies, and arrangements are made for the Western world leaders to attend his funeral in London. Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett) assigns agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), a close friend of US President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart), to lead Asher’s security detail while overseas, even though Banning’s wife Leah (Radha Mitchell) is due to give birth to their child in a few weeks. The entourage arrives via Air Force One at Stansted Airport, and Banning pushes their arrival at the Somerset House in London via Marine One earlier. As Asher’s Presidential State Car arrives at St Paul’s Cathedral, a series of coordinated attacks by terrorists disguised as London Metropolitan Police, the Queen’s Guardsmen, and other first responders erupts, killing the other Western leaders, damaging or destroying major landmarks and generating mass panic. Asher’s early arrival has thrown the attack on him at St. Paul’s off-guard, and Banning is able to rescue Asher and Jacobs and rushes them back to Marine One. As the helicopter and its escorts takes off, terrorists fire Stinger missiles at them, destroying the escorts and forcing the damaged helicopter to crash-land in Hyde Park. Banning and Asher suffer only minor wounds, but Jacobs is fatally injured, and she makes Banning promise to get back at whomever did this. Banning quickly escorts Asher into the London Underground as the city’s power is lost and people take shelter in their homes.

In Washington D.C., US Vice President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) works with the British authorities to investigate the incident while trying to track down the President. Trumbull receives a call from Barkawi, still alive after all and operating out of Yemen. The man takes responsibility for the attacks, coordinated by his son Kamran (Waleed Zuaiter). Barkawi purposely had Wilson poisoned to lure the Western leaders to London to attack them. Barkawi knows Asher is still alive, and promises that if Kamran captures him, he will broadcast the execution of the President on the Internet. Trumbull orders his intelligence staff to local Barkawi’s known operatives to find any connection to the attack, while British authorities have all first responders stand down, so than any left in the open can be identified as terrorists.

After leaving a sign to be picked up by satellite tracking, Banning leads Asher to a MI6 safehouse, where Jacqueline “Jax” Marshall (Charlotte Riley) briefs them on what their intelligence has learned. Marshall receives a coded message from Trumbull that confirms they saw Banning’s sign and that an extraction team is en route. Security monitors show the approach of a Delta Force team, but Banning suspects they have arrived far too soon and may be more terrorists. He covers and fights off the terrorists as Marshall drives Asher away but their car is struck by another vehicle driven by terrorists, allowing Kamran to capture Asher. Banning and Marshall are rescued by the extraction team, a combined Delta Force/SAS squad.

Trumbull’s staff have identified a building in London owned by one of Barkawi’s companies, which still appears to be drawing power, and suspect that is Kamran’s headquarters. Banning joins the extraction team to infiltrate the building and stop Kamran before he can kill Asher. Banning and Asher escape just before the building is destroyed by the Delta Force/SAS squad, killing Kamran and the remaining terrorists. Marshall has worked with British authorities to restore London’s security system, and discovering that MI5 Intelligence Chief John Lancaster (Patrick Kennedy) aided in Barkawi’s attack, she kills him. Meanwhile, Trumbull contacts Barkawi to tell them his planned failed, and then to look outside, moments before his building is attacked by another drone strike, killing him.

Two weeks after the attack on London, Banning is home spending time with Leah and their newborn child, named Lynne after his deceased boss. He sits in front of his laptop and contemplates sending his letter of resignation. On TV, Trumbull speaks regarding the recent events, leaving an inspiring message that the US will prevail. This convinces Banning to delete the letter.

REVIEW:

We live in a world where everytime there is a whisper of a terror plot, security goes on high alert and our elected officials are whisked away to a safe bunker. Not really sure what makes them so much more special than us common folks, but whatever. London Has Fallen takes the situation is something were to happen, though I don’t think anyone would care if something happen to our current president, and runs with it.

What is this about?

After the British Prime Minister has passed away under mysterious circumstances, all leaders of the Western world must attend his funeral. But what starts out as the most protected event on earth, turns into a deadly plot to kill the world’s most powerful leaders and unleash a terrifying vision of the future. The President of the United States, his formidable secret service head and a British MI-6 agent who trusts no one are the only people who have any hope of stopping it.

What did I like?

Raise the stakes. In Olympus Has Fallen, the stakes were limited to keeping the president alive while the White House was under siege. As quickly as this film was released after that one, I was thinking this would be nothing more than the same film, just moved to London. Instead, it turns out that there is an intricate plot to take out all the world leaders and murder the president live over the internet. Much higher stakes than its predecessor!

Not just propaganda. On the surface, this film could come off as US propaganda, but as you watch the film, it becomes clear that they are not just glamorizing the military and making the US seem like the perfect country. As a matter of fact, there is a conversation that Gerard Butler has with one of the hitmen where he says something along the lines of “we may not be as united as we should be, but you can’t f— with us!”

Proper ethnicity. Hollywood has long had a problem with casting people in the correct ethnicity. They either whitewash them, as in Cleopatra, or randomly change the race of a character for no reason, see Fantastic Four (2015). In the era we currently live in, the go-to villainous race, for lack of a better term, happen to be those from the middle-east. The casting directors appeared to actually get actors from that part of the world. Kudos for authenticity!

What didn’t I like?

Cut and paste. As I said earlier, there seemed to be a rush to get this film into production. As such, the script was rushed, causing some creative things to fall by the wayside. While I praise the higher stakes we get with this flick, I couldn’t help but notice that once again Aaron Eckhart’s president character was the proverbial damsel in distress, Radha Mitchell was basically just a cameo, and Gerard Butler was basically playing a live-action first-person shooter. Surely, we deserve to see something better!

R/F switch. Make no mistake, this is a much more violent film than the first. With that said, I can’t help but wonder if all the F-bombs that were dropped were done just to get an R-rating. Not that there is anything wrong with all the cursing, especially in this situation, it was just noticeable for some reason.

You’re my friend, sir. If I recall, Butler and Eckart’s characters are supposed to be friends. So, why is he calling him sir so much? I get there is a protocol when it comes to working with the president, but it just feels as if there should have been some more casual exchanges between the two old friends.

Final verdict on London Has Fallen? This is a good action film. The director obviously knew hat he was doing there. However, the rest of the picture falls short of expectations as the first film was surprise hit with critics. That said, there’s a decent enough plot here to keep you interested between exploding vehicles and military-esque shootouts. Do I recommend this? I really don’t see a reason to watch. If you’re a Gerard Butler fan, you can see him in an actual video game in his film Gamer. As for everyone else, it would be better to keep the memory of the first film and forget this one exists.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Justice League: Gods and Monsters

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In an alternative history Zod is Superman’s father, Batman is a vampiric Man-Bat, and Wonder Woman is the child of Ares, God of War. When these dark heroes form an alliance, the question everyone asks is will they save the world, or rule it?

What people are saying:

“Another solid entry in the DCU line, Justice League: Gods and Monsters works best as an entrée into what should be a fascinating and highly entertaining series of its own.” 4 stars

“I did not like anything about this film. I’m not a comics book expert but have read DC comics growing up. I viewed this expecting to see the classic justice league or at least a re-boot of the characters. Instead I saw completely different characters I’ve never seen before & didn’t understand why. There was no explanation or mystery that unfolded it was simply confusing & boring because these versions of the classic Batman, super woman, super man just weren’t interesting at all. If your a die hard fan I’m guessing you would like this film if your only familiar with the main story lines for these characters you’ll probably be disappointed, even though the actors seem to do well with what they were given.” 1 star

“This wasn’t as bad as I was lead to believe. I kinda dug the skewed take on the DC trio. Superman (Son of Zod & Lara El), Wonder Woman (New God grand-daughter of Highfather). and Batman (Kirk Langstrom, a vampire created by science) take on a warped William Magnus & his Metal Men. It was pretty damn good.” 3 stars

“Wow! Dark, disturbing alternate universe “superhero” movie that is definitely not for kids. Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are all evil, calculating, violent arms of the federal government and not in the Bizarro way but something completely different. The Justice League is a sinister monument in the middle of the city. Eerie. This unholy alliance is tasked with solving a mystery when a number of key scientists are killed in spectacular ways. Not just any scientists but those that would have been Antman, Ironman and Dr. Freeze in the normal universe. I’ve always wondered in the back of my mind what would happen if a true superhero were to live amongst us. Would they want to dominate us? Shepherd us? Both scenarios are disturbing and this movie explores those options in dramatic and sometimes bloody detail. Lex Luthor said it best, “Unassailable power is never to be trusted.” Dark, compelling, violent – highly recommended for those who’d like a different take on superheros.” 5 stars

“I love pretty much all the animated hero shows that matter, and I was riveted for this. Is it good? I dunno, but I LOVED it. Too much blood and violence? I’m a grown man, I can take it. Honestly, the whole “nobody ever dies” idea is a bit of a stretch. When a building is destroyed, I’m going to bet at least one person doesn’t make it out alive. In a time of constant remakes and reboots, this is a refreshing and well-executed original story line set in an alternate universe. Not for the kids, but if this is what WB Animation is up to, I say “more, please.” 5 stars

Extraction

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on October 10, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

When a terrorist group kidnaps retired CIA field operative Leonard Turner, his son Harry Turner, a government analyst who has been repeatedly turned down for field service, launches his own unsanctioned rescue operation. While evading highly skilled operatives, deadly assassins, and international terrorists, Harry finally puts his combat training to the test in a high stakes mission to find his father and to stop a terrorist plot.

What people are saying:

“It’s a rare movie that can’t be saved by Bruce Willis single-handedly killing all the bad guys. And yet, here it is: Extraction.” 1 star

“It takes confidence to put out a movie whose single-word title is also the procedure by which a dentist gets rid of a rotten tooth.” 1 1/2 stars

“It took me a little bit to get into this movie. The thing that was slowing me down was the acting. Once I quit worrying about the sub-par acting, mainly from Carano and started to pay attention to the positives from this movie like the fight sequences and the cinematography I was able to enjoy it more than I thought I would have after the first 15-20 minutes in. It also had a couples of good twists and turns which increased my viewing pleasure. I’m a big fan of director Steven C. Miller’s work and I think this isn’t his best effort and most importantly not his worst either. I would recommend it for action fans or for anyone wanting to support independent filmmaking.” 3 1/2 stars

“Ehnn… Not horrible, but not great either. Predictable. I saw the “twist” coming a mile away. Willis really needs to catch a good script” 1 1/2 star

“You may be tempted to watch this because (like a lot of less critically acclaimed films) it still looks fun. It isn’t. It is the epitome of cringeworthy; I’m not sure they knew what they were trying to achieve. It doesn’t work as a spy film, action film or revenge film. They try to chuck in some comedy (possibly to distract from the massive plot holes and nauseating script) which also fails. Watch anything else.” 1/2 star

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A year has passed since Eggsy Unwin and the spy organisation Kingsman saved the world from Richmond Valentine’s neurological wave broadcast, and he has since taken his late mentor Harry Hart’s title of “Galahad” and is living with Crown Princess Tilde of Sweden. One day, on his way home, he is ambushed by Charlie Hesketh, a former Kingsman trainee who lost his arm and vocal cords to the explosive microchip that was triggered during the Valentine incident. Eggsy loses Charlie and his henchmen in a car chase across London, but Charlie’s severed cybernetic arm hacks into the Kingsman servers through the car’s computer system. While Eggsy dines with Princess Tilde and her parents in Sweden, a volley of missiles destroy the Kingsman headquarters and wipe out Roxy and all of the Kingsman agents in Britain.

Being the only surviving agents, Eggsy and Merlin follow the Doomsday protocol, which leads them to “Statesman”, a secret American organisation posing as a Bourbon whiskey distillery in Kentucky. There, they discover that Harry survived the gunshot by Valentine a year earlier, but is suffering from amnesia. Eggsy and Merlin are briefed by Statesman head, Champagne, about a secret terrorist organisation called “The Golden Circle” and start their mission by following Charlie’s ex-girlfriend Clara Von Gluckfberg. When Statesman agent Tequila develops blue rashes, he is replaced by agent Whiskey as Eggsy’s partner. Eggsy manages to plant a tracking device inside Clara, but his revelation of his mission to Princess Tilde strains their relationship. After several failed attempts to cure Harry’s amnesia, Eggsy brings in a Yorkshire Terrier puppy that resembles Harry’s late dog Mr. Pickle and threatens to shoot it, triggering the return of Harry’s memories.

Poppy Adams, head of world’s largest drug cartel posing as a pharmaceutical company, broadcasts a message telling the world about a toxin she laced within every recreational drug available, which causes users to, at the first stage, develop blue rashes before progressing through mania, and then paralysis and ultimately, death. She also demonstrates the antidote on a captive Elton John and offers it to the world if the President of the United States ends his country’s War on Drugs and makes her organisation immune to all convictions. The President decides to take advantage of the situation to kill every junkie in the world and has every affected user quarantined, including his Chief of Staff, Fox. Eggsy, Harry, and Whiskey head to the antidote factory in Italy after intercepting a phone call to Charlie by Clara. Eggsy manages to steal an antidote sample, but it is broken by Whiskey during an ambush by The Golden Circle’s henchmen. During the gunfight, Harry shoots Whiskey in the head, as he suspects that Whiskey is playing both sides, but Eggsy saves him with the same alpha-gel used to save Harry. Princess Tilde calls Eggsy in a state of mania, revealing that she has the blue rashes before falling into paralysis. Eggsy, Harry, and Merlin discover the location of Poppy’s hideout, “Poppy Land”, in Cambodia and fly there to steal the remote control for the antidote drones.

Upon their arrival at Poppy Land, Eggsy steps on a land mine but is saved by Merlin, who sacrifices himself while taking the lair’s guards with him. Eggsy and Harry storm through the lair and Eggsy kills Charlie while Harry destroys Poppy’s robotic guard dogs with the help of Elton. They secure the briefcase with the access code to the drones and inject Poppy with a more potent dose of her toxin, and she gives them the password before succumbing to a heroin overdose. Before they can activate the drones, they are stopped by Whiskey, who, having previously lost his wife to crossfire from two drug users, is revealed to be working alone to ensure that all drug users are eliminated. Eggsy and Harry engage Whiskey in a grueling fight at Poppy’s diner before forcing him through Poppy’s meat grinder. They release the antidote drones, saving millions of lives around the world.

In the aftermath of the incident, Chief of Staff Fox has the President impeached for conspiring to commit mass genocide on the drug victims. Champagne announces that Statesman has acquired a distillery in Scotland to help rebuild Kingsman. As a means to avoid the confusion of two Kingsman agents using the codename “Galahad”, Champagne offers either Eggsy or Harry the agent title of Whiskey, but they decline and Statesman tech support Ginger Ale steps in to take the role. Eggsy marries Princess Tilde, and Tequila moves to London to work for Kingsman.

REVIEW:

In 2015, Kingsman: The Secret Service hit the big screens and  took the world by storm. Almost immediately, a sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, was announced and greenlit. Now that this the latter has hit theaters, it is time to decide if the wait was worth it.

What is this about?

When the Kingsman headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, their journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US called Statesman, dating back to the day they were both founded. In a new adventure that tests their agents’ strength and wits to the limit, these two elite secret organizations band together to defeat a ruthless common enemy, in order to save the world, something that’s becoming a bit of a habit for Eggsy.

What did I like?

Hit the ground running. One thing I can’t stand about action film is when they take forever to get going. Let’s be honest, no one goes to an action flick excited to hear dialogue. We go for the stunts and explosions, am I right? The filmmakers happen to feel the same way as I do, because the opening scenes of this flick are a car chase through London with Eggsy fighting off his would be attackers while not trying to destroy half the city or kill innocent bystanders. What a way to start!

Ham and Eggs(y). In the last film, we were introduced to Eggsy and watched him go from street thug to debonair gentleman. By the time this flick rolls around, he has become much more comfortable in his skin, as it were, and seems to be relishing in the role of being a Kingsman. Of course, having a hot, Swedish royal as your girlfriend doesn’t hurt, now does it? The thing that really gets me, though, is how even through his transformation, Eggsy can still go back and ham it up with his bros.

Everything’s retro. I am a big fan of things retro. WWII era stuff is my preferred era, but when it comes to overall aesthetic pleasure, that honor is bestowed upon the 50s. Julianne Moore’s villainous CEO character, Poppy Adams and I are kindred spirits in this regard. She used her vast resources to create a 50s utopia among the Ethiopian mountains, or wherever it is that she was, exactly. What’s not to love about a place like that?

What didn’t I like?

The sweeter the Berry. Hard to believe Halle Berry won an Academy Award not that long ago, huh? The recent string of flops she’s had makes one wonder if she was given that statue just because she got naked in Monster’s Ball. I have had a crush on her, since Boomerang. Her role as Ginger Ale (wasn’t she called Ginger in her Bond movie?) reminded me of her character from that flick with her shy confidence and all. The glasses just made her more attractive, btw. All that said about her looks and resume, Berry was wasted in this role, unless they do something with her in the future. I heard a couple of rumblings about a spin-off for the Statesmen. Should that come to fruition, than I will change my opinion that she’s wasted, and replace it with they were just building her up, but until that happens…IF it happens, I can’t be happy with what I saw from her.

Foreshadowing? A president who would rather ignore the needs of the people for the good of a few. Hmmm…who does this sound like? As evil as Poppy is, the woman went all Sweeney Todd and was grinding humans for food, the argument can be made that the president is the real villain of this film. I can’t say exactly why without spoiling part of the film, but let’s just say, if you made a mistake and it were up to him to help you fix it, well, you’d be s.o.l….just like the current waste of space up there in the White House.

Give it away. In the last film, Colin Firth’s character was shot, at point-blank range, in the eye and killed. Even though he was a big reason that film was successful, the filmmaker’s killed him off. When the sequel was announced, there was speculation about how/if to bring him back. Twin brother, flashback, decoy, etc. were all ideas thrown around and I think they made the right decision with how to bring him back, though I think they messed with his character a bit. All that aside, my gripe is with the fact that he appears in the trailer. His return should have been as big a surprise to us in the audience as it is to Eggsy and Merlin when they see him but, because he appears in the trailer, that element of surprise is no longer there. Good job, marketing team, you screwed us out of a major surprise!

Kingsmen: The Golden Circle doesn’t seem to have the same magic as its predecessor, but that may be just because of raised expectations. Remember, we had none for the first film. As you see, I have a few gripes with this flick, including its use of Elton John, but there is plenty of praise to go around, as well. One thing that I think hurt this film that didn’t hurt the first is the rise of ‘R’ rated movies. When the first film came out, the violence and language was highly praised, but now it just seems like an everyday thing to see in films. So, with all that said, what is my final verdict? This is definitely a must-see, but if you want to wait a week or two until the hype dies down, that’s fine, just make sure you check it out!

4 1/3 out of 5 stars