Runtime: 1 HR 43 MIN
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Writers: Jeff Wadlow, Mark Millar, John Romita Jr.
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Morris Chestnut, John Leguizamo, Jim Carrey, Clark Duke, Donald Faison, Claudia Lee
2010’s Kick-Ass surprised both audiences and critics with its vulgarity, violence and dark comedic sensibilities. The film was heralded as being a departure from the normal comic book formula and its relative success only increased with the release of the disappointingly mundane Iron Man 2 the following month. Three years later Kick-Ass’ influence on comic book adaptations is still being felt but can lightning strike twice for Kick-Ass?
Picking up shortly after the events of the first film, Kick-Ass has joined the ranks of a local superhero group while the foul mouthed and lethal Hit Girl retires in an attempt to live the life of a normal teenage girl. Meanwhile, The Red-Mist is still reeling from the death of his father at the hands of Kick-Ass. Deranged with rage he rechristens himself as The Motherfucker, the world’s first super villain and swears to get his revenge on Kick-Ass and all his associates.
Kick-Ass 2 falls into the same trap that a lot of sequels do; it takes the successful formula of the first film and goes in a different direction in an attempt to stay fresh. Unfortunately that “different direction” is a familiar one for comic book adaptations where our heroes are forced to examine their lifestyle and how their decisions have affected the ones they love. It’s a played out formula, one that screenwriters seem reluctant to skip even after more than a decade filled with comic book films. It’s even more troublesome in Kick-Ass 2 since the original worked so hard to think outside the conventional comic book box that the sequel never seems to escape it.
Generally Kick-Ass 2 is very unfocused. The original story had a lot going on between the Kick-Ass, Hit Girl/Big Daddy and the Mark Strong/Christopher Mintz-Plasse storylines and this film feels even more crowded with many new or expanded roles. With Kick-Ass joining a superhero group and The Motherfucker creating his own gang of villains there’s a staggering amount of side characters that dilute the effectiveness of the main cast. All the time spent on the superfluous characters takes away far too much time from the main characters and the action audiences want to see.
Like the original the dialogue remains sharp and extremely juvenile. The amount of swearing from Chloë Grace Moretz’s character that caused so much controversy in the original has either been toned down or it’s simply less shocking coming from a teenager rather than young girl on the cusp of her teens- honestly, it’s probably a bit of both.
Speaking of Chloë Grace Moretz, she and Aaron Taylor-Johnson have both grown up quite a bit in the three years since the original Kick-Ass was released. Aaron Taylor-Johnson now seems a little old for the role of a high school senior, moving him into a college environment might have been a better decision. Conversely, Chloë Grace Moretz has a lot more room to grow and expand her character and she’s mostly successful in that endeavor but unfortunately her character gets lost in the crowd far too often.
In June, Jim Carrey stated that because of the Sandy Hook tragedy that he would not be promoting the film because of the it’s violent nature. I, like many of you out there thought this was a strange and somewhat disingenuous move considering that he had to know what kind of movie Kick-Ass 2 was going to be. In the end Jim Carrey’s beliefs are a moot point to the success or failure of Kick-Ass 2. His role as Colonel Star & Stripes is little more than a bit part and the media coverage of his political views concerning the film is vastly disproportionate to his actual screen time.
Kick-Ass 2 is very funny at times but that’s only part of the reason to watch it in the first place. Like many sequels it fails to live up to the standard set by the original. It’s grander in scale with a bigger budget and higher aspirations but in the end that doesn’t have a positive effect on the end product when compared to the more modest original. Perhaps Kick-Ass 2 would have been more successful if they would have brought Nic Cage back somehow… I guess we’ll never know.