“Kill Elton John!” is a line you’re unlikely to hear in the average spy caper, but “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” aims far above average. Like its 2015 predecessor, this latest visit with the British agents-cum-Savile Row tailors swings for the fences without caring whose head — or torso, or dignity — is shredded en route. Even if it belongs to Sir Elton.
In a plot as sloppy and extended as over-washed elastic, the singer’s cameo as the feathered-and-sequined pet of a drug-dealing villain named Poppy (Julianne Moore) is a ludicrous highlight. A homesick sociopath, Poppy has styled her Cambodian lair to resemble Eisenhower-era America, including a diner where those who displease her are churned into Hamburger Helper. (So that’s what the first film was lacking: cannibalism.)
Bigger, longer and — at an interminable 141 minutes — apparently uncut, “Circle” is an emotionally sterile lark, its wounds inflicted with brolly and bullwhip, a smirk and a shrug. Obliterating all but two Kingsmen in the opening reel, the story (by the director, Matthew Vaughn, and Jane Goldman) forces the leftovers into the protective arms of their American counterparts, cowboy spies with rolling hips and code names like Tequila and Champagne. Their presence, led by a strutting Channing Tatum, lends the action a homoerotic glaze that I choose to believe is intentional.
Yet in a movie as happy to resurrect characters as rub them out, nothing is of consequence, and the glibness grows numbing. As does the cocky masculinity: This is, after all, a man’s world, and women had better get behind or beneath them if they want to survive. Sir Elton will make it just fine on his own.
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