Kick-Ass 2

  • Year:2013
  • Rating:MA
  • Director:Jeff Wadlow
  • Cast:Chloë Grace Moretz , Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Lyndsy Fonseca, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
  • Release Date:August 22, 2013
  • Distributor:Universal
  • Running time:103 minutes
  • Film Worth:$15.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

The uneven but still enjoyable sequel puts the violence way too far ahead of the laughs, resulting in a decidedly nastier and considerably less enlivening film than its much loved predecessor.

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The first Kick-Ass – directed by Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class), and based on Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s cult comic series – did exactly as its title suggested, boasting more blood spray and bad behaviour than your average comic book flick, and ramping up an excited audience of instant hardcore fans in the process. This brass-knuckled black comedy tracked teenage dweeb, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a high school nobody and obsessive comic book fan who makes the rash decision to reinvent himself as the titular superhero…all with no superpowers, nor Bruce Wayne’s bulging bank account. Teaming up with tween assassin, Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), Dave went from wannabe to real deal crime fighter.

Once again based on source material by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., but with Matthew Vaughn exiting the director’s chair, replacement helmer, Jeff Wadlow, finds himself in the awkward position of delivering a follow-up, and his task is made even more difficult by the fact that Kick-Ass was such a surprise hit. But that’s become the least of Wadlow’s worries. Kick-Ass 2 has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons lately, with Jim Carrey – a new and much heralded addition to the film’s ensemble – distancing himself from the violent movie after being deeply affected by The Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in the US. A soft box office opening in the US and a less than enthusiastic critical response haven’t helped, but despite this rising tide of negativity, Kick-Ass 2 is hardly the write-off that it’s being spruiked as.

The film does, however, have problems. Director, Jeff Wadlow (who previously helmed the awful high school fighting flick, Never Back Down, as well as the horror movie, Cry_Wolf), lacks the snappy comedic touch of Matthew Vaughn, and can’t dose Kick-Ass 2 with enough humour to offset the frequent and disturbingly ugly violence. While the first film was certainly fight-heavy, every severed limb was matched by a punchy one-liner, or was undercut with an ironic twist. Here, the violence is just too often nasty, even occasionally staggering off into borderline sadistic territory, with the mayhem sporting a gleeful edge. The interesting themes about finding one’s identity and the nature of social responsibility are lost in the carnage, while the film’s reconstituted bad guy – Christopher Mintz-Plasse evolves from the first film’s geeky Red Mist into the horrific wannabe super villain, The Motherfucker – is so reprehensible (trading in murder, cruelty, and attempted rape) that he sends everything hurtling wildly out of balance.  

The Mean Girls-style subplot about a superhero-rehabbing Hit-Girl trying to navigate her way through high school, meanwhile, is just a little bit strange. What is perhaps intended as comic relief pulls too hard in the opposite direction of the film’s principal thrust, which deals with Kick-Ass teaming up with a crew of like-minded costumed vigilantes. The now publically recalcitrant (and near unrecognisable) Jim Carrey plays their bullish leader, and he’s fantastic in the scene-stealing role, showing that madness is always in the air when it comes to people dragging up in public to bust criminals. His good guy, Colonel Stars And Stripes, might be Born Again, but his violent, axe-handle-wielding enthusiasm is decidedly devilish in tone. It’s a fine performance with echoes of the unrivalled comic anarchy with which Jim Carrey first shocked the cinematic world.

Though not a comedic titan, director, Jeff Wadlow, certainly knows how to orchestrate an on-screen bash-fest, and Kick-Ass 2 boasts inspired action sequences the equal of those in the first film. Aaron Taylor-Johnson remains engaging and likeable in the title role, and Chloe Grace Moretz’ caterwauling teenage wrecking ball, Hit-Girl, still stands as one of the greatest creations in the comic-book-movie canon. The introduction of a host of new characters also energises the film, brining equal measures of mild humour and pathos. The nature of the film’s violent escalation is also at times perversely thrilling – there’s something wrong with what’s being splattered across the screen, but there’s also something guiltily enjoyable about that unwholesome cinematic lawlessness. With the film’s post-credits sequel-baiting kicker now most likely redundant, Kick-Ass 2 might be the bloody full-stop on what was hoped to be a slightly longer cinematic sentence. And if the heightened madness of this second installment is anything to go by, that might be a good thing. The not-without-its-good-points Kick-Ass 2 probably goes too far as it is, so any further installments could potentially rate as a health hazard.In the end, Kick-Ass 2 just kicks the audience’s arse too much, and with too much unnecessary force – a bit more pinching and tickling would have softened the boot-blows, and made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable.

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