Kingsman The Secret Service Taron Egerton Eggsy aims a gun

It was a little more than two years ago that Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman: The Secret Service arrived in theaters and took everyone by surprise. Equipped with a tremendously effective use of an R-rating, the film wound up being one of the most fun and thrilling spy thrillers in recent memory -- introducing the world to some wonderful new big screen heroes. With a sequel gearing up almost immediately after big box office numbers started rolling in, we've been waiting for Kingsman: The Golden Circle for a while now... but the first-look footage we saw this week definitely suggests that the follow-up will be worth the wait.

I was on hand for the preview of Kingsman 2 yesterday when 20th Century Fox showed off their slate during their studio presentation at CinemaCon -- the annual convention for theater owners held in Las Vegas. Showcasing plenty of fun action, exciting new characters, and a nice plot preview, it definitely looks like it will be one of the great highlights of the fall season.

Beginning with scenes from the first movie featuring Eggsy's (Taron Egerton) first tour through Kingsman headquarters with Harry Hart (Colin Firth), the footage then immediately cut to a fast paced car chase with Eggsy being hotly pursued by three vehicles through city streets. As the villains open fire on our hero's vehicle, Eggsy gets in contact with Merlin (Mark Strong), who is at his computer and navigating him away from danger. When in a safe open area, the hood of Eggsy's car slides open, and we watch from an aerial view the launching of three missiles that completely destroy the attackers.

It happens that this conflict is no random incident, as we learn in voice over that there is an underworld organization that is swiftly working to specifically take out Kingsman agents. As we see a creepy robot assassin in action, it becomes clear that this group is highly technologically advanced, with members distinguishable by their lack of fingerprints and a circle tattoo made of 24 carat gold (hence the movie's subtitle). It's also clear that their tactics are wildly successful, as a montage shows some massive explosions -- including the haberdashery that guises the Kingsman headquarters.

It seems that these events leave Eggsy and Merlin all but completely out of resources, and while the former is panicked, the latter tells him to remember his training. Initiating "Doomsday Protocol," Merlin reveals a safe, and explains that the answers to their problems rest within. What they are surprised to discover, however, is that the only thing inside is some bourbon labeled Statesman Whiskey. They drink until they hit the bottom of the bottle, and it's there that they discover what they need to do next: the printing of "Distilled in Kentucky" with a circled, counter-clockwise-turned "K" tells them they have to head to the Bluegrass State.

With the sound of "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)" by Elton John queuing up, Eggsy and Merlin make the 3000 mile journey across the Atlantic - and in another montage of awesomeness, we not only meet a couple of the fantastic actors joining the franchise as members of the Statesman (including Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges), but also learn that Harry Hart is still alive and sporting a spiffy new eyepatch (you may remember he was shot in the eye while in Kentucky in the first Kingsman).

From there, the footage sped up considerably, as we were treated to the sight of a robot dog in a bowling alley, our first look at Halle Berry (who proclaims to "like them geeky"), as well as the preferred weapon of Channing Tatum's character: a laser lasso that we see him use to cut a dude cleanly in half. The big showstopper at the end featured a ride on a ski lift going incredibly wrong for our heroes with the cable snapping and plunging the car down the side of a mountain. Fortunately, it's a pod that is outfitted with a giant American flag parachute (a clear reference to The Spy Who Loved Me). The first look ended with Eggsy saying, "That's very American," and Tatum's Statesman agent laughing and enthusiastically replying with a thick Kentucky accent, "Fuck yeah!"

I had the opportunity to see a lot of exciting footage at CinemaCon this week, but the material from Kingsman: The Golden Circle definitely stands out as some of the best, and it's immediately solidified as one of my most anticipated films for the rest of 2017. Even though he only appeared briefly, it looks like Channing Tatum's performance is going to be equally as memorable and hilarious as his turns in the Jump Street movies, and just the weird style that Matthew Vaughn brings to the table should make the action sequences standout. Plus it's just weirdly exciting to see some of these characters back on the big screening.

Unlike the first film, which was a winter release, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is going for a different release strategy and is set to come out this fall -- specifically on September 29th. Because of this, we'll probably have to wait a few more months before any footage arrives online (perhaps tied to Fox's release of Alien: Covenant in late May?), but I hope all of you are now properly hyped up for the trailer to debut.

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