Director Matthew Vaughn’s first Kingsman movie succeeded through planned adolescence, from the lad in need of a dad who served as its hero, to the James-Bond-on-meth action and humor, to the clever-kid nihilism of saving the planet through the mass culling of humanity. If it was puerile and reactionary and just plain silly in places, it was also fun. The sequel, which finds young superspy Eggsy fleeing to America after someone blows up his English operation, is much less so. If the first played like a simultaneous homage to and parody of Sean Connery’s Bond, the second feels like a straight riff on the Roger Moore era: bloated, self-conscious, and smug, with only the occasional flash of nasty wit to put the edge on. (Bruce Greenwood has fun as a savvy, mercenary President who won’t negotiate with terrorists, but even that storyline gets a standard-style resolution.) Audiences may cheer for Old Man Elton John fighting in full feather, but the sheer number of missed opportunities — Shitkicking Channing Tatum! Bourbon vs. Scotch! A villain who talks like a wholesome housewife! — betray a fatal (and contagious) boredom just under the manic surface. (2017) — Matthew Lickona
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