Review by Karl Verhoven
Since the events of Kingsman: Secret Service, Eggsy has continued to excel as a Kingsman, keeping the world safe via secret missions no-one hears about. However, despite his being the consummate professional in action, in terms of being a gentleman he still leaves something to be desired, and nutting the Duke of Edinburgh is a step too far. “I need to give the bigwigs some meat to gnaw on”, he’s told, “so you have to suffer a little, I’m afraid”. That amounts to a leave of absence during which Eggsy returns back home to Peckham.
The original creative team of Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons pass their concept to Rob Williams and Simon Fraser who run with the idea of James Bond’s world exaggerated for broader comedy than the knowing wink. It’s not entirely parody, but doesn’t stop far short. What with the success of the first outing and that prompting a film, Williams and Fraser don’t stray from the established template of an eccentric lunatic with limitless resources endangering the entire planet. To begin with, though, Williams’ plot lacks finesse. It’s too obvious and the personalities at times plummet into caricature, but once he reaches the crisis point at the end of chapter two, things pick up. The villain of the piece changes the world, literally, and seemingly irrevocably. It opens the plot to Kingsman running a pastiche of earlier James Bond instead of the modern day version, but doesn’t take that route.
While Williams echoes what’s gone before, so does Fraser, also having an old school approach to telling a story. Like Gibbons last time round, there’s no scratching your head to figure out what’s going on or what people are thinking, and when a scene needs some detail, it’s there, although he’s not as refined as Gibbons. While largely set in the real world, there are places where Fraser’s called on to design something incredible, and his look for the villain’s undersea base is a treat. On the other hand, chapter five’s ending pin-up and its reprise as chapter six’s splash page are definitely ones to avert the eyes from, being as gross as intended. There’s a definite feeling of the art being more hurried toward the end, though.
An abiding theme is that the man can be taken from Peckham, but Peckham can’t be taken from the man, and part of what makes Eggsy so successful is his South London estate upbringing. However, Williams never quite sells the homefront scenes as anything more than something to break the action and continue the suspense at the moments of greatest tension. Neither does he quite capture the contrast between upbringing and establishment that characterised Secret Service.
Anyone who enjoyed Kingsman the first time round, or the resulting film, will get the required doses of action, crudity and sentimentality, but not quite as efficiently as before.