Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
You may like this if you like: Kick-Ass (Mathew Vaughn, 2010), Die Hard 4.0 (Len Wiseman, 2007), Super (James Gunn, 2010
Set weeks after the original, the heroics of Kick-Ass (Taylor-Johnson) has inspired ordinary citizens to don costumes and fight crime. Meanwhile Kick-Ass himself wants to carry on stopping the ‘bad guys’ but only if Hit-Girl (Moretz) joins him. After the death of her father, she herself is struggling to decide who she wants to be. When Chris D’Amico (Mintz-Plasse) declares vengeance against Kick-Ass for the death of his father, he uses his huge wealth to become the eloquently named ‘The Motherfucker’. His plans are not only to destroy Kick-Ass, but also those close to him and also become the world’s first super villain and assembles a group of fellow generic bad people, naming them the equally eloquent Toxic Mage C**ts. To fight him, Kick-Ass joins up with a group of fellow dressed up superheroes called ‘Justice Forever’, led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (JimCarrey). Naturally, things kick off.
Back in 2010 Mathew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass was a breath of fresh air; with its edgy and audacious take on the super hero genre. It proved to be a lot better than most people (including me) expected it to actually be. It also made a lot of money, and so a sequel was inevitable. Here it is, with writer/ director combo Jane Goldman and Mathew Vaughn now merely in the producer seat and leaving scripting and directing duties to Jeff Wadlow.
As much as I hate to go on about comparing sequels to the original, there is no doubting that what made the original so unique and entertaining is somewhat lacking in Wadlow’s follow up. Despite all this, overall this is a very entertaining and watchable romp that I would most certainly recommend, but it is most definitely plagued by the problems that the original so successfully parodied. There is most definitely an air of complacency that dominates the entire narrative in that Wadlow feels he doesn’t have to work to hard with the script and just let extreme nasty violence, naughty words and casual racism do the talking, and feel that is enough.
The action is good and there is no denying Wadlow gives the film an energy that doesn’t ever let off. The action set pieces are slickly delivered and brutally violent, which keeps things ticking along nicely enough. However, whereas number one had intelligence to go with the extreme violence, Wadlow really doesn’t feel he has to try. The cheesiness and clichéd story developments (Montages, tragic back stories, discovering one’s true identity etc.) that number one actively mocked have now become the narrative backbone of number two. There may be nothing wrong with that necessarily, but due to its clunky deliver there is no denying that it hampers our ability to truly engage with and believe in these characters. It is just as well that the entire cast are all on excellent form. Johnson and Moretz prove once again to have an effortless ability to adapt perfectly between comedy, emotional drama and being believable kick-assers. Mintz-Plasse may not exactly be leaving his comfort zone, but it is obvious he is enjoying himself. Jim Carrey is underused, but certainly looks the part in his role. It is just a shame they are not given better material to work with. The supporting cast are also extremely effective; Olga Kurkulina’s Pat-Butcher-on-steroids a particular stand out. An outrageous picture on the wall also made me genuinely miss (gulp) Nicholas Cage.
There is also an inconsistent moral tone, which the narrative manipulates at its convenience. Sometimes dressing up as a superhero is not who characters truly are, but then when it is convenient it suitably is. Sometimes all vigilantes are bad, sometimes only some and it is all usually delivered in a cheesy and quite clunky voice over. Hit-Girls individual story has potential, but just ends up in cheap visual puke gags, which though visually memorable, felt a little cheap and lazy.
However, despite these flaws and an obvious inability to match the (admittedly) high standards of number one; there is enough energy, fun and good performances to still make this an extremely enjoyable and immensely watchable 100 minutes worth investing in. The finale is frantic and entertaining, but lacking the jetpack and bazooka based audacity of the first one. Unfortunately, this once again proves to be a reminder that there is a real lack of originality here.
Made with visual energy, but lacking any real story telling craft and instead relying on cheesy cliché, Kick-Ass 2 is a very enjoyable romp. Expect extreme violence, extreme language and extreme Hollywood infected unoriginality and complacency.