I’m not afraid to admit it, but the first Kingsman is probably my favorite movie of the last 10 years. It contained everything I love about movies – humor, a great cast, stylish fight scenes, awesome villains… it was all great. When a sequel was announced I was instantly excited, but I desperately tried to keep my expectations in check. I went in knowing that there was no way this was going to be at the level of the first film, and I was prepared to be somewhat disappointed. Luckily, Kingsman: The Golden Circle wound up being better than I anticipated.

It has been a few years since Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) saved the world. One night, after being attacked by former Kingsman agent Charlie (Edward Holcroft), Eggsy finds his entire world destroyed when both his home and all Kingman headquarters are destroyed. With all his friends, save Merlin, now deceased, Eggsy turns to the Kingsman’s American counterparts for help. The Statesmen, who use a distillery as a cover, not only provide the help needed to take down Poppy (Julianne Moore), the woman responsible for ending the Kingsmen, but also surprise them when showing that Eggsy’s mentor Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is still alive.

I am glad to say that even though The Golden Circle isn’t quite on par with its predecessor, it definitely matches the first movie in terms of fun. From the moment the opening credits started, I was completely loving everything I was watching on screen. I actually believe that the sequel may actually be funnier than the first, and that is no easy task. There was also a lot of great action sequences in between the jokes, and they all worked very well.

Of course, with the good must come the (not that) bad. While the action stuff was a blast, none of the scenes stood out like the church scene from the first film. Then again, I’m not sure it’s possible for any single scene to ever top that. Also, the villains are quite up to the standard set by the original. It’s clear Moore is having an absolute blast playing the truly insane Poppy, but she just isn’t as memorable as the Jackson/Boutella combo from the first Kingsman.

Another issue that some viewers may have is the amount the new cast additions are actually in the movie. Halle Berry, who plays the Statesman tech expert Ginger Ale, and Pedro Pascal, who plays gun slinging Agent Whiskey, have significant roles and are great new characters. Unfortunately, Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges are saddled with roles that are basically extended cameos. The best new addition is undoubtedly Elton John playing himself. He is so damn funny playing an amped up version of himself that I hope that producers find a way to give him a role in the upcoming third movie.

So while Kingsman: The Golden Circle isn’t quite up to the standard set by the first picture, it is the next best thing. Bringing Firth back was a smart move, as his character was the best part of the original flick. Aside from a few minor missteps, the sequel is a worthy followup. If the eventual third movie can bring the same quality as the first films, we may just have the best movie trilogy in recent years.