2010 gave us one of the most refreshingly original films to grace our screens in a long time. Matthew Vaughn subverted the tired superhero genre with Kick-Ass, and provoked some brilliant media outrage when his 13-year-old leading lady dropped the C-bomb. It wasn’t something many people had seen before. Fast forward to this summer’s action comedy however, and director Jeff Wadlow seems convinced that delivering a less tasteful, deliberately controversial rehash of the original is satisfactory. It isn’t.
Kick-Ass 2 picks up after the first one left off, with Chloë Grace Moretz’s Hit-Girl sneaking away from high school to train in secret, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Kick-Ass finding himself bored with regular life. When Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) resurfaces as superbad supervillain (sorry) The Mother F*****, Kick-Ass dons his costume again and teams up with a bunch of fellow weirdos in the pursuit of justice.
Jim Carrey helms “Justice Forever” – the Avengers of the Kick-Ass universe – as Colonel Stars and Stripes. Carrey famously kicked up a storm by denouncing the film and refusing to take part in any of the press due to its excessive violence, but maybe he did it because the film just isn’t really very good.
Carrey is by far the most engaging presence in the whole thing, yet despite being plastered all over the posters gets a criminally small amount of screen time. As for the violence, it’s certainly unflinching but no more so than any other action film with a high body count. The problem lies mainly in the fact we’ve seen it all before.
For the most part Wadlow plays it safe, preferring to stuff the screen with thinly drawn characters rather than fleshing out the main ones. The fight scenes may be bloody and the language may be foul, but that doesn’t make it controversial. It’s just uninspiring.
When the masked vigilantes trash a villain’s den to the tune of When The Saints Go Marching In, you get a strong sense of familiarity. Few people won’t be reminded of Hit-Girl happily murdering a room full of thugs to the melodies of the Banana Splits in the first film. The c-word is flung about a few times and audiences roll their eyes, sitting far too comfortably with their asses distinctly un-kicked. The most they might do is raise an eyebrow at the bizarrely distasteful attempted rape scene, disguised as comedy.
Don’t get me wrong, though – Kick Ass 2 is not a film without laughs. There are jokes to be found even in the strangely disjointed subplot with Hit-Girl attempting to fit in with generic teenage cool kids. The “sick stick” makes a memorable appearance, much to the groans of delight from the audience.
The menagerie of zanily dressed vigilante superheroes is great fun to watch, and performances from the likes of Donald Faison give the film a fun (if brief) spark of life. Moretz steals the show again, kicking ass up and down the screen once she escapes from the aforementioned ‘Mean Girls 2’ subplot.
Unoriginal? Yes. Mean-spirited? In parts. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great big ball of fun. Kick-Ass raised the bar so dramatically the first time round that Wadlow never stood a chance. Kick-Ass 2 is an admirable attempt at recapturing the charm of the original, but it sadly never quite gets there.
But that won’t stop me from seeing it again.
Find out what happened when I met Eddie Hamilton, the editor of Kick-Ass 2.