Subscribe for 33¢ / day

Nearly as lackluster as the first “Kingsman” flick was entertaining, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is a royal letdown. The first movie was clever. The second is ridiculous, which is surprising because it shares the same writer/director (Matthew Vaughn) and co-writer (Jane Goldman) as its far superior predecessor.

Returning as the leads this time are Kingsman agents Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and techie Merlin (Mark Strong.) Their mission is to stop the evil drug lord Poppy (Julianne Moore.) She has threatened lives of everyone who is using her drugs by tainting them. She is the only one who has the antidote, of course, so millions of lives are her bargaining tool.

What can the Kingsman spies do but partner with their American colleagues? These agents include Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Ginger (Halle Berry).

And yes, if you’ve seen the trailers, you know that Colin Firth, somehow, is back, although I won’t reveal how or in what capacity.

I can say that it’s important to see the first movie if you want to completely understand the second one, which has a lot of nods to the original.

Any movie that has Elton John playing Elton John can’t be all bad, and he, along with his music, certainly is a bright spot here. He is the victim of Poppy, who has kidnapped him.

“If I save the world, will you get me two tickets to your next show?” asks one of the agents. “If you save the world, I'll get you a backstage pass, baby,” the musician replies.

There are some pretty entertaining fight sequences, to be sure, and a cool cameo or two. But in the end the silliness becomes overwhelming — robot dogs? Really? Gun-toting robots? A cowboy with an electric lasso? Come on. This isn’t supposed to be a giddy science-fiction piece.

It’s overly long by a good half hour. After the Americans begin working with the British, it’s quite obvious that the American stars and plot line are included — forced, actually — to appeal to American viewers.

The church massacre and the bar fight, which were part of what surprised and entertained audiences from the first movie, are more or less recreated here.

Speaking of violence, a note to parents and “PG-13” viewers is in order: This isn’t for kids, and it isn’t for the easily offended. It’s ultra-violent, gory and often sadistic … and some of it involves people meeting death through — and I mean through — a meat grinder.

This entertainment is not fit for a king — nor for discerning movie goers, for that matter.