2010’s Kick-Ass gained a lot of fans who loved its blend of heart, humour and over-the-top comic book violence. Now we get the follow-up, which sees Jeff Wadlow take over from Matthew Vaughn in the director’s chair. While it’s an okay effort, it’s difficult not to wish Vaughn had stuck around.
Picking up some time after the first movie, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has left his Kick-Ass superhero alter-ego behind and is now attending high school along Mindy McCready (Chloe Moretz), the former Hit Girl. While they may not be trying to fight the bad guys, Kick-Ass has inspired others to take up the costumed vigilante cause.
These others, such as Colonel Stars And Stripes (Jim Carrey), lure Dave back into his costume. However Mindy decides she needs to follow her deceased father’s wishes that she follows the advice of her new guardian, which involves her just being a normal teenage girl – something she finds difficult.
There’s also Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who fought alongside Kick-Ass as Red Mist. He’s left his costume behind too and is filled with anger about what happened to his criminal father in the first film. He decides that his destiny is to be a super-villain, The Motherf**ker, and begins to build an army of bad guys, which suddenly raises the stakes for Kick-Ass and co. to very dangerous places – and which may lure Hit Girl out of retirement.
There’s plenty of potential in the plot, based on Mark Millar’s comics, but the whole thing is a little confused and can’t decide what it’s about. There’s a lot of talk about how actions have consequences, but it likes to conveniently forget or underplay this whenever it starts to find it uncomfortable. That ends up having the converse side effect that when it does goes to some dark places, it leaves a slightly nasty taste in the mouth due to the fact it doesn’t know – or at least shies away from – dealing with them properly.
The first film almost miraculously managed the trick of both loving and abhorring violence at the same time, and although you get the impression Kick-Ass 2 would love to do the same, it has absolutely no idea how. It’s partly because when the violence comes it lacks the incredible style of Kick-Ass (it look ok though) and also because when it wants to show the actual effects of what Kick-Ass has started, it slightly chickens out, even if it talks about it an awful lot.
It’s not a terrible movie and some of it is quite fun. Indeed, when it’s following Mindy trying to be a normal teenager, it’s great as it’s kind of like Mean Girls on acid. If the whole movie had been about that, it could have been great – there’s no doubt the film knows that Hit Girl is by far the most interesting character, to the point that it almost seems to resent having to go off to follow other people. It also never quite works out how to deal with The Motherf**ker, treating his descent to supervillaindom as coming more from teenage petulance than any real reaction to what happened to his parents. Once more it’s a case of the movie saying one thing but doing another.
It could be worse, and at least it tries. It’s almost unfortunate really, as if Kick-Ass 2 could have hit the heights it strives for, it would have been great. It might also have been better if it had just gone for fun rather than trying to be a little deeper. Instead it lives in-between, being quite entertaining but also a little uneasy and unsure of itself. There’s some fun to be had, but it’s not the movie it could have been.
Overall Verdict: Some good sequences and humour, but by talking a lot about the repercussion of violence and vigilantism, but completely undermining that in its actions, it rather undermines itself.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac