To me, Kick-Ass is the best comic book movie ever released. Writer and director Matthew Vaughn took a comic book that was so-so in my opinion, and made it a truly great superhero movie. Vaughn perfectly mixed together action, comedy, drama, realism, and fiction to make a superhero fan’s ultimate superhero movie. It surely has its naysayers due to its violence and language, but it was executed well, with the right amount of bawdiness and the right amount of heart. With an ending hinting at a sequel, it was hard not be excited for the sequel to come, but walking in to see Kick-Ass 2, my feelings were mixed.
Vaughn, the talent who made Kick-Ass great could not do Kick-Ass 2 due to scheduling conflicts, which got me nervous. His personal pick was Jeff Wadlow, who so far has had a mixed resume as both a writer and a director. Then when the comic came out, it was disappointing to see how awful it was, being a hodgepodge of tones, concepts, and characters that just never worked. Factor in mixed to bad reviews before its release and Jim Carrey’s very negative stance on the violence in the film, and I was nervous to say the least going into Kick-Ass 2. However, while it’s not up to par to the original, it’s a good sequel.
Two years after Kick-Ass bursted onto the scene, the superhero scene is continuing to grow. With Kick-Ass and friends taking the street, The Motherfucker, formerly known as Red Mist, is forming his own team of supervillains, to get revenge for his dad after Kick-Ass killed him.
The performances in the film actually are a bit improved. Aaron Taylor-Johnson seems like he has gotten more comfortable in the role, and pulls off a good performance. Unlike some points in Kick-Ass, he never feels like he was overshadowed by bigger characters; instead, here he was standing out and becoming a much stronger character. Also stepping up is Chloe Grace Moretz, who, while not being the scene-stealer she was in the first, gives a much improved performance. She mixes the perfect amount of innocence, awkwardness, and badassery to give Mindy, or better known as Hit-Girl, more depth.
The supporting cast is also improved. While Carrey may have a negative stance towards the film, he does a great job in it. He really disappears into the role of Colonel Stars and Stripes, and has several funny bits in the film. Christopher Mintz-Plasse here has far more to do, and gives one of his better performances so far. He does a great job pulling off that eccentric, anti-Bruce Wayne type character, while being sinister at the same time. Other supporting cast mates like Clark Duke, Donald Faison, Olga Kurkulina, and John Leguizamo did great work in smaller roles.
The script here is close to as good, and maybe even equal to the original’s. Jeff Wadlow is able to put many funny and clever comedic bits in the movie, perhaps even more so than the first. Sure, some of them miss, but that is almost guaranteed when it comes to comedic material. Wadlow also does a nice job creating more depth for these characters and situations, as a sequel should do with its characters.
The action in the film is well done, while being completely different from the action in the original. Wadlow has his own unique style with the action scenes, shooting them in a faster and more zoomed in way. That seems a bit risky to do with action scenes, since it mostly does not work, but here Wadlow is able to pull it off. There is not that epic action moment like in the original, but they are all consistently enjoyable, especially the bits with the scene-stealing Mother Russia.
Kick-Ass 2 is like the Empire Strikes Back to Star Wars as sequels go, with that meaning it’s far darker. Kick-Ass 2 is fearless as it goes with its second half, a fearless nature that is rare to see in any mainstream movie. The dark levels the film goes to makes the film far more realistic, and emotionally impacting. By going the distances they go, Kick-Ass 2 is able to have great tension and realism, which is great to see.
Like the first Kick-Ass, the sequel makes many different changes from the comic book it’s adapting, and most of those changes are actually for the better. The comic book, in my opinion, was way too dark and sinister at times, and also had a lackluster ending. Kick-Ass 2’s new ending is far more realistic, but also has a great deal more emotional value and truth to it, which was surprising to see compared to the comic’s terrible ending.
The film also has big ambition, which is also great to see. Every week, most mainstream releases go for some sort of simplistic form of entertainment, which is not a problem if executed well, but it’s always better to see something that is really going for it. From its level of violence, to depiction of teenage culture, to its terrorist-like villains, Kick-Ass 2 really goes for it in every way, but that is also where some of the film’s problems start.
When it comes to tone, the film has a lot going on. From very silly and comedic moments, to dark and sinister deaths, Kick-Ass 2 is stuffed with a variety of tones. While the first one was able to manage these different tones to perfection, Kick-Ass 2 struggles a bit, seeming a bit jarring and messy at points. It’s tough to point the finger at someone here, but it feels likes Vaughn’s absence behind the chair when it comes to this is the problem.
Along with the tone, the management of the subplots in the movie is also a bit jarring and messy. The film throughout most of it basically has three different arcs between the three leads, but their handling could have been much better. Kick-Ass 2 can get lost within a subplot, spending too much time at one point, and then forgetting that the other one existed. These three subplots do not have the natural flow they should have, and could have been edited to have that flow.
A minor complaint; Kick-Ass 2 at points tries too hard to be hard R when it comes to some of its language and comedy bits, and it can be a bit off-putting and unrealistic at times. Even the worst teens do not throw out the c-word as much as Mindy and the other teenagers do in the film.
While Kick-Ass 2 finds itself with some of the same problems that its source material has, but it’s overall able to be wildly entertaining and investing like the original. This is not the Dark Knight of superhero sequels, but it’s a solid sequel that’s able to bring the same humanity of the first.
Take a Drink: for every swear word in the film.
Do a Shot: during the cafeteria scene…you’ll know what I mean.
Do a Shot: for the shark!
Take a Drink: during the awesome after credits scene.