Tag Archives: Mark Strong

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle”



From the moment I first saw “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” I knew it was something truly special. It topped my Top 10 Best Movies of 2015 list in the coveted number one slot and after multiple viewings, cemented itself among my favorite movies of all time. To say my expectations for “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” were high is something of an understatement. The original film was a rare one that begged for a sequel and I’m glad we’ve been handed one, but I really wish it was better than it turned out to be.

I want to be clear that while this film is disappointing and mostly lacking in intelligence, charm and wit, it still has its moments and the glorious, hyper violent end action sequence is a ton of fun. But it’s impossible to overlook what amounts to a relentless dumbing down of the entire “Kingsman” franchise in a lame attempt of desperation to outdo its predecessor.

When the Kingsman HQ is blown up by missiles launched by the drug peddling super villain Poppy (a delightfully psycho, hammy performance from Julianne Moore), our hero Eggsy (Taron Egerton), back-from-the-dead Harry (Colin Firth), and loyal sidekick Merlin (Mark Strong) join up with their American counterpart, the Statesman. Champ (Jeff Bridges) runs the secret organization and heads the team, including Tequila (Channing Tatum), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and Ginger (Halle Berry). With their exaggerated Southern accents, ten gallon cowboy hats, and bloated swagger, the filmmakers seem to have mistaken Kentucky with Texas. The Statesman crew is enjoyable (although Tatum is completely wasted), but Pascale becomes the scene stealer with his 1970s macho Burt Reynolds bravado.

The film confuses a string of stunt casting with meaningful humor, and overall the project lacks creativity and the pulsing mean streak that made the first movie feel so original. Instead of another smart and snarky send-up of James Bond movies, audiences are forced into two and a half hours of aggressively tiresome repetition (we see characters dumped into a meat grinder twice and an extended, distracting celebrity cameo that quickly wears out its welcome as it balloons into a supporting role) and callbacks to the first film that serve as reminders of the sequel’s role as a pale imitator. Worst of all, the film is missing its clever, subversive humor. The smart satire is tossed out the window in favor of more slam-bang action sequences and animated spy weapons like an electric lasso. It’s violent fun, but it’s missing that spark that made the original film so beloved by film nerds.

Most disappointing is the film’s opening car chase scene, an awkward, CGI mess through London’s streets. I’m so disappointed that real stunt drivers and practical effects weren’t used, making this the second most frustrating animated car sequence this year since “The Fate of the Furious” and the awful looking parking garage bit. Perhaps I should refer to my disappointment as the “Baby Driver” effect: if you’re going to have cars in your movie, then put actual cars in the frame and talented drivers behind the wheel.

Once the plot delves into a truly irrelevant and weird message about the stigma of drug use, it skids off the rails in a spectacular fashion. Instead of steering itself back on track with a trademark crackerjack smugness, director Matthew Vaughn visually says “screw it” and goes full blown overkill, making the film feel like he was hell bent on trying to outdo himself rather than making a quality film. This sequel tries too hard and the film suffers for it. This doesn’t necessarily make “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” a total dud, but it is very disappointing to those of us who are super fans of the original.

“The Brothers Grimsby”



Once in a blue moon a movie comes along that actually grosses me out. This strange phenomenon doesn’t happen too often (“Pink Flamingos,” “Jackass: The Movie“), but it does happen. “The Brothers Grimsby” belongs on this short list.

Comedy mastermind Sacha Baron Cohen is ideal as the boorish manchild Nobby, a trashy soccer hooligan who is searching for his long-lost brother Sebastian (Mark Strong), who turns out to be a skilled MI-6 secret spy. When a series of events leads to their eventual reuniting, all hell breaks loose.

This film is filled with politically-incorrect, absurd juvenile antics and doesn’t quite reach the brilliant comedic heights of “Bruno” and “Borat.” Make no mistake: it’s very, very funny, but this movie takes the disgusting jokes a step (or in some cases, several steps) too far. Get ready for rapid-fire offensive and uncomfortable jokes about incest, pedophilia, rape, bestiality, handicapped kids, starving Africans, drug addiction, oral sex, animal semen, and the classic fireworks-up-the-bum. Have you suddenly found yourself requiring additional time to process the previous sentence? Go ahead and take all the time you need.

I love irreverent humor but I do get the feeling that there are loads of offensive jokes on offer here that serve no other purpose than to shock and disturb the audience. Shocking doesn’t automatically equal funny and in some instances, I think the filmmakers forget that because many scenes rely on shock rather than actual jokes. That’s not to say there aren’t some truly inspired bits of humor here. There are plenty of easy-to-swallow wisecracks, including a gag at the expense of Donald Trump (who wouldn’t enjoy that?), and a brilliant opening bit that’s reminiscent of “Idiocracy,” but most are in extremely poor taste and are sure to offend the most delicate of viewers. There’s a revolting scene with an elephant — let’s just leave it at that — that will surely disgust even those most amenable to the grossest of the gross-out humor. I love “Jackass” but this one even pushed my limits, and I don’t get disgusted very often.

Still, the movie managed to make me laugh throughout, even when the third act begins to lag. Throw in some mildly amusing bits with the loveable Rebel Wilson and an entertaining supporting cast (Gabourey Sidibe, Isla Fisher, Ian McShane and Penelope Cruz) and it becomes quite a successful comedy.

The film earns its hard R rating with lots of strong crude sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, language, and drug use; it’s not for everybody. This is comedy pushed to the most outer limits of good taste. Proceed with caution.


Comedies are notoriously hard to recommend because humor is subjective. What is funny to me may not be funny to you, and vice versa. Some people count “Zoolander” and “Wedding Crashers” among their favorite comedies of all time and I don’t find either of them particularly funny. I, on the other hand, loved “Eurotrip,” “Rat Race,” “We’re the Millers,” and the “Vacation” remake, while other people didn’t find those funny.

With that caveat as a warning to you, I really liked “The Brothers Grimsby.”

Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong play Nobby and Sebastian, two brothers who were once very close but were separated as children. Nobby is a soccer hooligan from a blue-collar town, and Sebastian is a straight-laced assassin for the British intelligence network whose life is upended when Nobby finds him in the middle of an assignment. The odd couple pairing is a classic one in the screen comedy, and it works well here to drive a story that is mostly sight gags balanced with crude and gross-out humor (yes, there is a difference between crude and gross-out humor).

While not everything works, the bits that are funny are really funny. I found myself continuing to chuckle at some of the more brilliant bits for several minutes after the scenes had already ended. The beginning of the movie, in particular, had the jokes flying at an almost rapid-fire pace where it would have been easy to miss one or more of them. The second act sags a bit — as it has to sacrifice some of the humor for advancing the plot — but the movie’s pace doesn’t slow too much.

This movie is most definitely not for everyone. As I said, there is a lot of crude humor (jokes about sex, anatomy, or bodily functions) here. Most of it works. The gross-out humor, on the other hand, is a bit hit-and-miss. There were some scenes that took it just a little too far on the disgusting meter for my taste, but comedy is about taking risks and this film takes a lot of them. I laughed a lot. To me, that’s the sign of a successful comedy.