Kingsman: The Golden Circle is cutting straight to the chase. Literally.

At Comic-Con’s Hall H on Thursday, 20th Century Fox presented several scenes from the Kingsman sequel — including the entire action-packed opening sequence. 

If you loved the crazy kinetic action of Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Golden Circle shows there’s much more where that came from. The film opens with Eggsy (Taron Egerton) being confronted by Charlie (Edward Holcroft), one of the rejected Kingsman applicants from the last movie. Charlie’s clearly still nursing a grudge, and the two take their inevitable fight inside a special Kingsman cab.

What follows is about 10 minutes of pure action. Eggsy and Charlie battle inside the cab, fly over the cab, drag behind the cab. Eggsy’s got a gun and other gadgets; Charlie has a robot arm. Eventually, Eggsy’s able to lose Charlie – but the cab driver dies in the process, so Eggsy’s left zipping down the streets of London alone, chased by bad guys and policemen. 

If that first clip was pure, familiar Kingsman, the other clips shown at Comic-Con show off what’s new about The Golden Circle: namely, Americans. 

Taron Egerton looking particularly Colin Firth-y in Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

The Golden Circle sends the Kingsmen to Kentucky, where they’re to meet up with their American counterparts, known as the Statesmen. The second clip opens in a whiskey distillery, which turns out to be a front for the Statesmen – just as the tailoring shop serves as a front for the Kingsmen. 

Merlin and Eggsy have managed to get past the biometric security system and into a storage area housing gigantic barrels of whiskey. But as they’re trying to figure out what to do next, Tequila (Channing Tatum) sidles up to them with a shotgun in hand. 

He’s understandably suspicious of the Kingsmen, so of course a fistfight ensues. Tatum’s in fine form here (“All I can say is, don’t get in a fight with Channing Tatum,” Egerton joked earlier at the panel), with a thick, molasses-sweet Southern drawl and a giant Statesman flask belt buckle. And (in a victory for us Americans!) he’s ultimately successful in defeating both Merlin and Eggsy.

It should be noted here that the Statesmen are very serious about their whiskey. That obsession even extended offscreen at the Comic-Con panel, where Tatum goaded co-star Halle Berry into chugging what appeared to be half a pint of special Old Forester Statesman whiskey. 

(That pint glass right in front of her had tons of whiskey in it just a few minutes ago.) 

But not all the Americans in The Golden Circle are romanticized notions of cowboys and Southern gentlemen. There’s also Poppy (Julianne Moore), a villainness who lords over a drug cartel she calls the Golden Circle. Her lair is an oasis of ’50s nostalgia deep in the jungle (she grew up on Grease, American Graffiti, and Happy Days, she explains), and we first see her in a retro diner speaking with a longtime employee, Charles, and a potential new recruit, Ángel.

Julianne Moore as all-American villainess Poppy in Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

Julianne Moore as all-American villainess Poppy in Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

Poppy demands that Ángel show his loyalty by putting Charles in the meat grinder – which he does, after some initial hesitation and a confrontation with some robot dogs. Poppy approves and sends him to get a “makeover” from a robot lady, who files down his teeth, lasers off his fingerprints, and embeds a molten-gold tattoo on his chest.

Meanwhile, Poppy cheerfully creates a patty out of the human meat coming out of the mincer. When Ángel returns, she serves him a juicy burger – which Ángel reluctantly eats. (You would, too, if you’d seen how she punished disloyalty.)

“How is it?” she asks sweetly. “It’s delicious,” he responds. 

Poppy’s a completely deranged character who’s all the more terrifying because she covers up her sociopathic ruthlessness with perky smiles and lilting laughs. If Channing Tatum’s character is the ultimate American dude, Poppy’s the very vision of all-American ladyhood – only deeply, deeply twisted. 

And it’s disturbingly enticing. I, for one, could watch Julianne Moore serve up people-meat burgers all day long. Is it bad that I’m already kind of rooting for the bad gal in this one?

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