In a classic case of Brits-go-to-America, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is a perfect mash-up of western and spy movie. True to the “Kingsman” brand, this second installment parodies both genres.
The American-ness of the Statesmen, the Kingsmen’s cousins, is laid on thick. Agent Tequila slings around phrases like “that dog don’t hunt” and remarks the whiskey is so good you’ll “slap your mama.” Eggsy and Merlin are quick with the bants, calling the Statesmen’s bread and butter “piss water” and upbraiding the American spelling with that pesky “e.”
It’s curious that just today I was perusing an elaborate Jack Daniels’ ad while waiting for the Tube. I wondered to myself: do Brits really care about how the distiller was looking for just the right square bottle or about anything that goes down in Lynchburg, Tennessee?
Of course, British drinking habits aside, there is something to be said of Statesmen choosing liquor at their inception and the Kingsmen choosing haberdashery.
As depicted in “The Limey,” “Kingsman” shows us that American men are distinct from British men in their hypermasculinity. Men in the United States should ask themselves why it’s not a leap for them to be satirized with aggression, homophobia and get-‘er-done stubbornness. The Kingsmen even call them out for it, saying that they don’t know much about being gentlemen.
The Brits will go there when it comes to dragging Americans. For example, we are the butt of a few jokes in the Globe’s recent retelling of “Much Ado About Nothing.” There was a line in there to the effect of, “I’d love you even if you were American.” Likewise, the earnest constable Dogberry is portrayed as a clueless, willfully ignorant American casting director.
I noticed an angry, obviously American patron complaining about this in a thread on the Globe’s website.
With this particular work of art, I also observed British concern for our fragile stateside feelings.
That being said, neither Hope nor Haley nor I was offended by this thread of humor in “Kingsman.” Personally, I welcomed these cross-cultural roasts with glee.
Take the matter of the heartless president, for example. If the color of his tie doesn’t give away his party affiliation, his rationale for his actions will. The fact his callousness is rooted in party ideology and that he cites specific initiatives in American history for it? That, my dear, is tea. Hot Earl grey, not sweet or iced.
All the scenes, too, featuring all-powerful drug cartel and villain Poppy were a visual treat, if not textual one. Seeing a kitschy, retro diner in the middle of this fantastic, bougie English cinema really made me aware of space and the pertinence of nostalgia. You run into American diners all the time in London. We literally passed Ed’s Easy Diner in Soho on the way there.
I loved the strain of red gloss running through every scene with Poppy: the bar stool cushions, her patent leather suitcase and her precisely manicured, blood red nails. Having visited the Soho location, Kate Spade’s recent foray into poppy-themed garments and accessories came to mind.
As a whole, the way “Kingsman” weaved together multiple narrative strands, dashed in a whole lot of cheek and provided a commentary about classism (just like the last film, but with a more transnational face) impressed me. I rank it up there with my two main loves of 2017, “Atomic Blonde” and “Dunkirk.”
And of course, if it’s not clear, let me be frank. It was especially lovely seeing this film in London as an American. I got that same feeling I did when I recognized certain Atlanta buildings in “Baby Driver.” It’s the tingle when I could tell you what Metro stop you could take to that glimpse of Washington, D.C. in “Jason Bourne,” and the giddiness when Sam and I watched “Adult World” to pay our respects to Syracuse.
I knew about the importance of Savile Row before coming to London, but seeing the street sign in the film elicited a physical reaction from me. London’s street signs, if you’re lucky enough to get one on a given street, have such a particular look. None of this green stuff on a pole. They’re clean and white with chic black trim and a pop of red.
And while I don’t want to get caught in one under the circumstances shown in the film, my synapses sparked with an almost innate recognition for the colour and shape of a London cab.
“Kingsman” is just a post-modernist fantasy and a vehicle for satire. I know that. But I left the cinema feeling like a real resident of the city and a guardian of the culture. My time here has been full of ups and downs, but I know my chest will get tight when I sit down for movie night and watch “Kingsman” in the states. Catching a glimpse of the red TfL buses will make my heart flutter and I’ll yearn to visit England again.