It has been two years since Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) first donned the costume of Kick-Ass and took to the streets to fight crime. Since the death of her father, Mindy (Chloe Grace Moretz) has taken to training as Hit Girl in secret, against the wishes of her new guardian. When a new breed of superheroes emerges on the city streets, Dave finds himself drawn to fighting the god fight again, but Mindy is having trouble breaking the promise she made to stay safe, and there is a new super villain on the rise, in the shape of The Motherfucker (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).
Truth be told, even though I wanted to love it, I had big problems with the first Kick-Ass movie – read all about them here – but since the cast are older and the universe has already been established, I felt more accepting of the concept on the way into the film.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson reprises his role as the awkward but well meaning Dave/Kick-Ass, and this time out he has learned a whole lot of new tricks from Hit-Girl, and has a gang of new friends to help him fight off the bad guys. Strangely though, since this is a film named after Taylor-Johnson’s character, it is Chloe Grave Moretz as Mindy, who has the biggest chance to grow and learn. She is still dealing with her father’s death, and can still kick all kinds of ass, but Mindy has to learn to accept whether the mask she wears is that of Hit-Girl or Mindy. Moretz brings her trademark sensitivity to the role, and shows Mindy as the young girl that she actually is, before she takes on the bad guys, curses her mouth off and defends her friends. The world is fictional enough to support Hit-Girl this time out, and she is shown to have a depth and sensitivity that means the audience can finally relate to her.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse goes from vindictive hero to all out villain, and he manages to cleverly mix the bratty teenager and the evil villain to create a character that is as annoying as he is hilarious. A shame he’s not given more of a chance to shine.
The newest, and perhaps the most controversial, addition to Kick-Ass’s team is Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes. Carrey, despite the fact that he publicly distanced himself from the level of violence in the film, is fantastic in the role of an ex Mafia enforcer turned good. Carrey’s blend of outright violence and an abhorrence of cursing is a fun dichotomy and, while his character does get to kick his fair share of bad guy ass, he is actually not on screen very much.
As well as Carrey, Donald Faison brings perhaps the only touch of fun to the film, with his character Dr Gravity, Steven Mackintosh and Monica Dolan play an odd sort of mum and dad crime fighting duo and Lindy Booth brings the sexy, and a whole lot of midriff, as Night Bitch. The Motherfucker has a new team as well, but other than Olga Kurkulina as Mother Russia, none of them are actually that memorable.
And so, just as Batman hung up his cape at the end of The Dark Knight, Dave too has put his costume away for good. This is a familiar story in terms of comic book movies, and in this case, it almost works. Far more interesting is the battle that Mindy goes through in her search for herself and where she belongs, but sadly, it is not told in a very gripping way. As a writer, Jeff Wadlow does not seem to know what to focus the film on, and what to leave as a subplot, so everything suddenly takes centre stage, which of course means that nothing actually does.
The slightly too-complex story leaves Kick-Ass marginalised in his own film, and doesn’t introduce the villain until it is almost too late. Just as in the first film, life is thrown away too easily, and curse words are only ‘entertaining’ when uttered by underage kids. Sigh. We have seen this before.
As a director Jeff Wadlow seems to be as muddled as he is a writer, the narrative problems are not cleared up and it is only in the set pieces that the film takes on any sort of clarity. As well as this, it seems as though much of the cast – with perhaps the exception of Faison – did not have a lot of fun making this movie, and their apathy drips from the screen.
In all, Kick-Ass 2 is a sequel that we didn’t need. Moretz is still the star of the show, but just as Big Daddy’s costume is empty, it seems that the film struggled to fill Nicholas Cage’s shoes with Kick-Ass’s motley crew of real world superheroes. The story is familiar and patchy, and it the lack of energy in the film is surprising at times. Still, he moments that shine, shine bright; the set pieces are fun, everyone still curses like troopers and, since Moretz is now 16, it seems a little more acceptable to have her kicking ass, although once again, she is pitted against someone twice her size.