One day, dear reader, you might be a parent and you might worry that your kid is exposed to too much violence. Then you’ll remember that you once watched the Kick-Ass movies and somehow wound up fine…hopefully. Yes, the hyper-violent quick-witted first film delighted audiences with its clean-cut fight choreography, imaginative twists and turns, fearless fun and (sometimes) shocking attitude. The big question then was could audience get behind a sequel based on the second comic? Could it retain all the charm and harshness of the first one? Would it still be as good without Nick Cage?
Let’s take a look at Kick-Ass 2.
Kick-Ass 2 begins some years after the first film ended with Kick-Ass now retired and Hit Girl continuing her training rather than going to school. Kick-Ass decides to come out of retirement due to feelings of dissatisfaction, though Hit Girl is caught and is forced to become a “normal” child. Kick-Ass joins Justice Forever, a group of superheros led by the charismatic, slightly off-kilter Colonel Stars and Stripes. In the meantime, Red Mist has decided to become a super villain called the “Mother Fucker” and hires several heavy hitters to take down Kick-Ass and his friends in revenge for his father’s death. This film does not follow the sequel comic as closely as some would have liked, but when you realize they had to present this to American mainstream audiences, it was clear that some changes had to be made. Also, don’t question the timeline, it doesn’t make any sense.
As always, all the best fights occur with Hit Girl, who really should be the star of the movie. The huge fight at the end with Mother Russia, the biggest and baddest of Mother Fucker’s motley crew, is the most visually stunning of the whole movie. The fight choreography is well put together and shows the director understands the balance between realistic violence and over-the-top video game-esque moves to make some engaging battles (like Mother Russia versus the NYPD). Both Mother Russia and Hit Girl are the shining stars of the film, played by Olga Kurkulina and Chloe Grace Moretz. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, the actual protagonist and antagonist, haven’t really improved from the last film, they also haven’t gotten worse – they fit snuggly into these roles but don’t do much else with them. All expectations fell on Jim Carrey, however, as the new big-quirky-star-in-a-violent-role. While Carrey’s Colonel is engaging, funny, and bizarre, he’s no Big Daddy and the resulting vacuum left by his absence only serves to remind us how good Cage was in the first film.
The film still brings the high-octaine fights and action with the borderline sick humor that everyone loved from the first film. Those who have already seen the film will probably smile and laugh a little when I mention the “sick stick” (which would be the best weapon ever). The problem is that there is a lot of meandering in the narrative due to the two separate plot lines happening with both Kick-Ass and Hit Girl. The pacing is rushed to get to the big fight set pieces and is thus a detriment to the well written dialogue of the film. Worst of all, this story, unlike the first film, has no unexpected twists and turns, no knee-jerk-reaction scenes, none of the harsh edges. It becomes clear that the plot is very much a typical, easy-to-guess tale involving some basic cliches: the ally giving vital information to the villain, the young pariah not fitting in with “normal” society, the last ditch attempt to save the villain from a fall that doesn’t work, etc.
What I will say is that this film looks just as bright, colorful, and bloody as its predecessor. The cinematography is still as crisp as ever, making a great contrast to the blood and gore everywhere. After all, this is still a comic book film, so keeping with the similar colors really packs a visual punch the way comics do. The action is well edited, the soundtrack works well with the intense action, and the costuming…well, you can’t say they lacked creativity.
All in all, Kick-Ass 2 is a good film that fails to live up to the greatness of the first one. The problem is that the first one was an unexpected punch to the face of full throttle action, when the audience expectation was low. With this film, the expectation was so high that it’s not strange that this more straightforward story failed to thrill. Still, if you enjoyed the first film or the comics, I would recommend watching it. It might not be the roller-coaster of a lifetime, but it is a very fun ride nonetheless.
– Great fight choreography.
– Good cinematography.
– Good acting.
– Some issues with pacing and story.