Kingsman The Golden Circle Taron Egerton Mark Strong

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. 

Taron Egerton’s glum chav turned debonair secret agent Eggsy returns for more tongue-in-cheek spy thrills in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the sequel to 2014’s cheeky James Bond pastiche, but his second screen adventure is a crass and bloated mess.

Sadly, as Eggsy takes on a fresh adversary and finds fresh allies, the first film’s fizzy wit goes flat. To be fair, Julianne Moore brings a loopy gaiety to the film’s big villain, cheerfully lethal drug queenpin Poppy Adams. And the notion that her secret lair is a 1950s-style American diner hidden deep in the Cambodian jungle does raise a smile.

But Eggsy’s new espionage partners are a lot less fun. Spies from the Statesman agency, brash US equivalent of the UK’s gentlemanly Kingsman organisation, they are a charmless bunch – despite being played by the starry likes of Halle Berry, Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges.

Colin Firth’s dapper spy Harry Hart, apparently killed in the first movie, is back, albeit stricken with amnesia. But you will probably be more surprised by the appearance of Elton John, who turns up as himself in an extended cameo. Which may tickle some fancies. Yet anyone who felt director Matthew Vaughn and his co-screenwriter Jane Goldman already went too far with the ultra violence and ultra crude jokes last time around will shudder to learn that the pair have gone even further over the top here.

Certificate 15. Runtime 141 mins. Director Matthew Vaughn

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.