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Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Spoofing Bond with ups and downs 
© Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation The Kingsmen team up with their American counterparts, the Statesmen, after the world is held hostage by a new threat. Starring Taron Egerton, Colin Firth and Pedro Pascal.
     Gentlemen with lethal fighting skills, The Kingsman are England’s modern Knights of the Round Table.
     Newest Kingsman Eggsy (Taron Egerton: Sing) is in a period of adjustment. Coping with the loss of his mentor, Harry (Colin Firth: Bridget Jones’ Baby), he’s in charge of stopping global terrorism. He’s also dating a princess (Hanna Alström: Sami Blood).
     Eggsy’s life explodes, literally, when his home and all the Kingsman properties are blown to smithereens, as are many of Kingsmen. Only Eggsy and brainy tech expert Merlin (Mark Strong: 6 Days) survive. 
     In their quest for justice, they turn to their American cousins, The Statesmen. Instead of refined gentlemen, these are whiskey-brewing, tobacco spitting-Kentuckians. Sure, they’re handy with whips and shotguns, but where’s their style? 
     The sequel to director Matthew Vaughn’s first James Bond send-up is in turns entertaining and disappointing. Vaughn deftly captures the kooky spirit of the swinging 1960s’ spy films. But sophomoric humor and jokes pushed far beyond the bounds of taste spoil the fun. 
     Vaughn also has a nasty habit of reducing plot to its simplest form to get to his heart-pounding action sequences. So the story lacks depth, and the characters lack weight. 
     The director’s faults are partially redeemed by an entertaining cavalcade of actors. Firth offers a game attitude as he reacts to increasingly ludicrous situations. Channing Tatum (Logan Lucky) proves he’s worth his weight in box office receipts by turning a bit of screen time into a memorable cameo. 
     The real star is Julianne Moore’s (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2) villainess. The Oscar winner steals every scene as the delightfully deluded Poppy, a drug kingpin who revels in ’50s nostalgia and mechanized violence. Moore skips through the role like a murderous June Cleaver. 
     If you enjoyed the first movie, the good news is that the sequel is only slightly worse. 
Fair Action • R. • 141 mins.
 
New this Week
 
Friend Request
     An act of kindness leads to murder and mayhem in this horror movie. Popular Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) accepts obsessive weirdo Marina’s (Liesl Ahlers) friend request. Bad idea. As a friend, Marina is violent and controlling. 
     When Laura unfriends her, Marina kills herself and enters the internet in a peculiar plan to murder every person on Laura’s friend list. 
     A rote horror movie with plenty of jump scares and plot contrivances, Friend Request is best viewed with a vocal audience. Go to a packed screening on Friday night so you can yell at the screen and laugh with others. 
Prospects: Dim • R • 92 mins.
 
The LEGO Ninjago Movie
     High-schoolers must save the world in this silly, self-referential comedy. 
     School is tough enough for Lloyd, Jay, Kai, Cole, Zane and Nya, who seem like normal kids. But when the sun goes down, these six become the fearsome Ninjago warriors, who have a sacred duty to protect their home from monsters. 
     LEGO movies draw huge kid audiences. Sans kids, it depends. If you enjoy LEGO’s lickety-split joke style, where seven punch lines are thrown out instead of one, you’re likely to be entertained. Don’t expect depth from this animation. 
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 101 mins.
 
Stronger
     Losing his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing has made Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) a public hero. He’s invited to events, scrutinized by the media and pestered by inspired admirers. But because that’s not how he sees himself, all the attention threatens to destroy him.
     I expect Gyllenhaal to perform up to the standards of this true story. 
Prospects: Bright • R • 116 mins.