Kingsman: The Golden Circle

I know that people love Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman series, but I’m a bit resistant to its charms. I appreciate the vibe Vaughn and company are going for, I love the style of the films, and I dig most of the cast. Still, there’s a juvenile element to the series that just irks me ever-so-slightly.

That said, if you loved Kingsman: The Secret Service, you’re going to love this sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Colin Firth is back, and thank heavens, since he was the best part of the first film. The new cast includes Julianne Moore, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal and, oddly enough, Elton John.

The plot involves the proper British Kingsman clashing with their American counterparts the Statesmen, but really this is all just an excuse for Vaughn to stage big, goofy-yet-entertaining set pieces. Again, I freely acknowledge that people seem to love all of this, and the plots of these films barely matter as much as the set pieces. Still, I want something more. I’m sorry! Anyway, if you’re a Kingsman fan you will obviously be ready to buy this.

Special Features To Note: While almost every film on this week’s round-up could stand to have a few more in-depth special features, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the opposite: there’s too much detail here. I appreciate that Vaughn and company went all-in on dissect the film, but yeesh, I don’t know if this is the type of film that needs so many featurettes.

Literally every aspect of production, from the writing, to the casting, to the costume design, and beyond, gets some attention here. One thing you’ll notice in all the behind-the-scenes footage is an almost hilarious abundance of green screen – pretty much every scene employs it in some capacity. This isn’t a complaint – it’s actually impressive how easily the film erases the green screen to the point where it’s not even close to being noticed.

Vaughn talks about how the first film was meant to be a “celebration of Britannia and being British” and The Golden Circle is meant to be the American counterpart to that, with a focus on Americana. The director also talks about how difficult it was to create a sequel. He says that when it comes to sequels, “people want what they saw before but they don’t what they say before,” so the challenge was recreating the atmosphere of the first film without doing the same thing twice.

There’s also a considerable amount of time spent focusing on the casting of Elton John to play himself. Vaughn says he “always wanted to do an action scene with Elton John,” and he finally got his wish when the singer agreed to appear in the film. If you wanted to learn pretty much everything there is to know about the making of this movie, then the special features here are absolutely for you.

Special Features Include:

  • KINGSMAN: INSIDE THE GOLDEN CIRCLE (Multi-chaptered Documentary)
  • Distilling The Story: Kingsman Returns
  • Trafficker, Tailor, Southerner, Spy
  • Poppy’s Special Guest: Elton John
  • Nefarious Lairs & High-Falutin’ Headquarters
  • Suited And Booted
  • Weapons of Choice
  • Brothers In Arms
  • Doomsday Protocol: Visual Effects
  • End Game
  • Black Cab Chaos: Anatomy of a Killer Chase
  • Kingsman Archives
  • Concept Art: Sets, Costumes (36 Images)
  • Stills: Behind The Scenes, Sets, Props, The Cast (52 Images)

Manhunt: Unabomber 
(Arrives Blu-ray plus Digital and DVD December 26)

If you’ve finished Netflix’s Mindhunter and are craving something similar, check out this miniseries. Manhunt: Unabomber is a fictionalized account of the true story about the hunt for the Unabomber, aka Ted Kaczynski.

Sam Worthington plays FBI criminal profile Jim Fitzgerald, who obsessively tracks the Unabomber for years. Fitzgerald’s obsession alienates his wife and friends at the FBI, but all he cares about is stopping the madman mailing bombs to people. Manhunt isn’t nearly as stylish or cinematic as Mindhunter, and it very much feels like a TV movie – there are even parts where a scene ends by going black for a beat, indicating the place where a commercial break could be inserted.

But the series moves at a brisk pace, and there are some interesting revelations here, particularly a moment involving the infamous Unabomber sketch. I won’t give away what’s revealed about that sketch, but let’s just say it resulted in me sitting straight up on my couch and saying, “Holy shit.” That’s worth the price alone, folks.

Paul Bettany plays Ted Kaczynski, and delivers a fairly chilling performance as the demented bomber. Now and then, the series feels like it’s slipping into Hannibal territory with flash-forwards featuring Fitzgerald interviewing Kaczynski in prison, but it mostly works. Most of the series is from Fitzgerald’s point of view, but one episode that focuses solely on Kaczynski and gets inside his head is surprisingly excellent, and the most stylistic episode of the entire series.

Special Features to Note: There are three super quick featurettes here. They only really go into the true story, not the making of the film, so if you were looking for any details on the production…sorry.

The featurettes here may be brief, but they’re interesting enough, I suppose. The real-life James Fitzgerald is on hand to give some insight into the real world of criminal profiling, as well as the real-life Unabomber and his real manifesto. This is all fine, but there’s probably a lengthier TV documentary out there that covers this in more detail.

Special Features Include:

  • “Criminal Profiling” Featurette
  • “Who is the Unabomber?” Featurette
  • “Deciphering the Manifesto” Featurette

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