In all honesty, Kick-Ass 2 isn’t a film that needed to be made. The first movie, based on Mark Millar and John Romita Jr’s comic miniseries, was pretty self-contained and capped off nicely. The darkly comic real-life superhero tale did make a decent chunk of money though, so I suppose a sequel was inevitable.
Anyway, fans of the 2010 original shouldn’t be disappointed. Kick-Ass 2 isn’t as consistently entertaining as its predecessor – in fact it’s rather unfocused and bitty at times – but it has just enough moments to make it worthwhile. Particularly if you are a comic book fan and are familiar with the tropes related to hero and villain squads.
Because that really is the central concept of Kick-Ass 2.
High school senior Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) returns to costumed crime-fighting, joining an assortment of ordinary citizens who were inspired to become real-life superheroes by Dave’s alter ego Kick-Ass. Problems arise though when Dave’s nemesis Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) rebrands himself as The Motherfucker, the world’s first real supervillain, and assembles his own band of costumed criminals. While all of this is going on, Mindy Macready (Chloe Moretz) is struggling to adjust to life as a high school freshman, torn as she is between her deadly vigilante Hit-Girl persona and the typical teenage wants she has long suppressed.
Kick-Ass 2 takes a while to get going, finally finding its footing and sense of fun once Dave joins Justice Forever, headed by Jim Carrey’s good-intentioned but deranged Colonel Stars and Stripes. And although none of these misfit wannabe heroes is really developed as a character, you can’t help but latch on to them thanks to their selfless desire to help others even though they lack any combat capabilities. This is superhero wish fulfilment at its most real world… in line with what a handful of costumed men and women are doing out on the streets in our reality in fact.
These scenes consistently work in Kick-Ass 2, as do the action sequences which, like the first film, are very brutal and very gratifying (if you’re into that sort of thing). Highlights in this department include Justice Forever’s first proper mission and any scene in which Hit-Girl gets to let rip. Her battle with The Motherfucker’s menacing second-in-command, Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina), stands out as one of the best, most punishing fight scenes of 2013 so far.
Speaking of Mother Russia, one of the major drawbacks of Kick-Ass 2 is that The Motherfucker’s assembled squad receives next to no screen time. This said, scenes with Mintz-Plasse’s desperate, delusional character are always good for a laugh.
Moretz too has an interesting arc, and you wish you could spend more time with her instead of continually cutting to Dave’s tedious storyline.
Overall, Kick-Ass 2 seems to have suffered a bit for the directorial departure of Matthew Vaughn and his screenwriting partner Jane Goldman (both worked on X-Men: First Class together, for the record). Evidently they brought an authenticity to the interactions between the high schoolers and, at least until the final scene, a sense of overall realism to the first film. In Kick-Ass 2, reality has gone out the window. You only have to look at Mindy’s high school experiences – which come across like a combination of Carrie and Mean Girls – to realise that pure artificiality and action escapism rule this time.
In the end Kick-Ass 2 is entertaining enough. It suffers from some pacing and focus issues but when the film delivers, it really delivers. The sense of R-rated exhilaration is irresistible. If you enjoyed the original, in particular, you should still get enough kicks out of Kick-Ass 2 to make a big screen viewing worthwhile. Just.
Last Updated: September 11, 2013