Matthew Vaughn’s adaptation sequel “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” (2017) won last weekend at the box-office, surpassing its original’s opening weekend performance with $39 million domestically.
While I hadn’t seen the original “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” the sequel’s trailer caught my attention this past summer.
Like the trailer’s fight scenes depict, “The Golden Circle” upheld the spy, action and comedy genres, but despite its campy nature and problematic scenes, the film had some interesting implications on the war on drugs and the debate on legalization of recreational drugs.
Set a year after the original story, “The Golden Circle” opens in Britain with Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) rising the ranks within the ‘gentlemen’ spy organization.
The Kingsman organization is nearly obliterated by a mysterious threat. Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) travel to America and join forces with the Statesman, the Kingsman’s American counterpart.
Statesman leader Champ (Jeff Bridges), and agents Tequila (Channing Tatum), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), and Ginger (Halle Berry) leverage their resources to help Eggsy and Merlin find the group who destroyed Kingsman. They find the villains to be the Golden Circle, a drug cartel fronting as a pharmaceutical company.
The Golden Circle’s leader, 50s-themed housewife Poppy (Julianne Moore), wishes for her drugs to be sold alongside legal alcohol and tobacco in the U.S., and goes to extreme, murderous lengths of poisoning drug users with a deadly toxin to achieve her goal.
Harry, Eggsy, Merlin and the Statesman have to team up together to find Poppy’s drug cartel hideout, find the cure for her poison, and save millions of people and the world.
While “The Golden Circle” is a spy action film structured as a Hollywood classical narrative, filled with misogynistic scenes, incessant vulgar dialogue, and silly western standoffs, it also functions as a commentary on the highly-debated disputes and policies on the war on drugs and drug usage in the U.S.
Although the film is only one interpretation of this debate, it depicts the complexity of the discourse through a satirical framework, critiquing everything from incarceration because of illegal drug use to the economic consequences of denying or allowing the legalization of drugs.
Generalizing all drug users as criminals, the U.S. president in “The Golden Circle” wants to get rid of the problem by getting rid of all the drug users, choosing to let them die from Poppy’s poisonous toxin.
Contrastingly, his chief of staff argues that some people are experimenting or using the drugs for medicinal purposes, so it is wrong to make assumptions about the millions of people consuming these drugs.
While Poppy’s “Save Lives, Legalize” campaign is murderous and her psychotic nature takes her opinion to the extreme, the idea of legalizing some drugs is still in debate.
This representation of the debate on legalizing drugs isn’t perfect, but “The Golden Circle” is telling of how popular films are not only entertainment. Rather, films like “The Golden Circle” can embed political implications in even the most covert methods, posing questions to audiences in between the violent fights or “entertaining” storylines.
“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is playing at Ashley Square Cinema until Thursday.