Matthew Vaughn’s original Kick Ass movie is a favourite of mine – and not because a young girl hurls profanities at the audience like a sailor. It struck a harmony between comic-book movie spoof and genuine Bildungsroman (listen to episode 53 of the Boom for that one) with Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloë Grace Moretz delivering the laughs and the pathos. While Kick Ass 2 doesn’t achieve the same balance, there is enough fun to be had to make the experience worthwhile.
• Director: Jeff Wadlow
• Exhibition: 2D
• Rating: 15
• Run Time: 103 mins
Picking up after the first movie, Dave enlists Mindy’s help – he knows that in order to achieve his end goal of becoming a true hero, he needs training. However, Hit Girl must contend with a disapproving guardian in Marcus, her father’s old partner. When Mindy decides to try living a normal life, Dave finds a group of new companions to fight crime with – Justice Forever, including Colonel Stars and Stripes and Night Bitch (no, really). His newfound popularity does not escape the notice of Chris D’Amico, who wants revenge for the death of his father Frank. Using his wealth, he recruits his own band of costumed accomplices and sets out to ruin Kick Ass’ life.
The rest of the story plays out in a relatively predictable way, with plenty of over-the-top violence and crude jokes. Thankfully, the cast keep the whole thing moving at a good pace. Moretz shines again as the assassin going through puberty. She also delivers more than just the swearing schtick – playing the high school outsider role well (which is good news as we will probably see it again from her in the Carrie remake). Johnson maintains the naive charm of Kick Ass throughout, but a lot of credit needs to go to Jim Carrey, who successfully fills Nicholas Cage’s role as the leader of the posse.
Unfortunately, the plot retreads a lot of the ground of the original film, with character’s again questioning their rather absurd lifestyle choices. Some of the new characters also fill in roles left over from the first movie, rather than making it their own. John Leguizamo, for instance, seems to be an amalgamation of Frank D’Amico’s old henchmen, with many of the same plot point (and jokes) made at his expense.
Losing Vaughn as director could have spelled disaster for the film, but Jeff Wadlow brings enough to the table to make things work. In fact, his handling of the fighting set-pieces is commendable. Unfortunately, he does not seem to have the same skill when it comes to melding the humour with the human in the super-hero costume. Many of the gags fall flat, making the tone of particular scenes seem off.
While I had fun with Kick Ass 2, there is nothing here for people who didn’t love the original. There is more blood (as well as vomit and explosive diarrhea) here compared to the first film, with as many crude jokes, but without the same moments of clarity. the experience is less memorable.