Sequels are always tough. Not only do you have to create a film that is a follow up to the original but it has to have it’s own identity. It will always be compared to the original and even the most die hard of fans will scrutinize it. No one fucks with the original, a phrase echoed by fanboys through the years. Kick-Ass 2 is envious of the original film. It wants to live up to the original so bad you can sense its eagerness to do so. This causes the film to loose it’s heart, wit and joyful energy that the original has become synonymous with.
The sequel picks up shortly after the events of Kick-Ass, with Mindy (Chloeë Grace Moretz) and Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) trying to live regular lives as high schoolers. In between the events of the two films, they became close friends and began training together. That had to change, when Mindy because of a promise to her new guardian Marcus, puts away the costume and tries to live a regular life. Meanwhile Dave joins a team of super heroes that were inspired by his actions and together they call themselves “Justice Forever.” That all changes when Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) gives himself a fetish makeover and calls himself “The Motherfucker.” Now the world’s first super villain plots to take down Justice Forever with his own gang of evildoers.
I was not a big fan of the first Kick-Ass movie but I could appreciate the idea the film was trying to convey. A violent fantasy, where citizens felt the need to take matters into their own hands, to correct a flawed system. I thought it had something to say about who we are as people, using violence and crude content as a way to entertain and draw audiences. I cannot muster the same hopeful enthusiasm for the franchise now.
You can tell that director Jeff Wadlow clearly loves the first film and respects the characters. He wants to tell an entertaining story with emotional story beats but everything falls flat. He is trying to juggle too many themes. Loss, growing up, stepping up, making a difference in the world, etc. Balancing all of this makes the film seem scattershot. The film doesn’t know if it wants to be a compelling piece of drama or pulpy fun and because it can’t decide, none of the moments work. Dramatic moments between characters fall flat and the humor, mixed with violence, feels more sadistic.
The reason the drama fails is because the script never allows for those dramatic moments to have any impact. The scenes between Marcus and Mindy were just dull. Their conversations never stood out. It felt like stereotypical responses to a bigger psychological problem. Asking a trained killer to blend in and be ordinary doesn’t sound like a solution to a problem, just someone buying time till the character reverts on their word. Also, they had the same conversation about the same issue more than once. It all becomes repetitious and dull. Same goes for the relationship for Dave and his dad. Not much time was spent with these characters together to make any outcome of their relationship have much of an impact on the audience.
I do however like how grounded the world is. The themes from the first film are back and they are still best part. These are ordinary people who have decided to take on the superhero mantle with no training and no real plan (just patrolling the streets), things can get a little messy. The lives of all these characters are in danger and there are losses and there is tragedy Even though, the tragedy in the sequel does not match the level of tragedy in the original. That is mainly because the characters, especially the new ones, aren’t as fleshed out as they were in the original.
It would benefit the film, if the time we spent with the characters were put to better use. Instead, the film brings up themes and plot points we have seen in other films before. Mindy’s entire storyline is straight out of Mean Girls but not as fun, memorable or quotable. Mindy’s Mean Girls moment brought some much needed satire to the film. One that can be associated with the current world. The film was trying to top itself and the original, but it didn’t do it successfully. Instead those moments are gross out gags or scenes with over the top violence that aren’t really creative.
The only moments in Kick-Ass 2 that really worked for me was when Choleë Grace Moretz was on screen. Whether she was playing Hit-Girl or Mindy Macready, the film was anchored by her performance. It was watching her try to be regular teen and involuntarily reacting to boy bands. It’s sad that all of it had to end in a waterfall of vomit and blood.
Before the film came out Jim Carey, who plays Colonel Stars and Stripes, dissociated himself from the film because of the level of violence. I wonder what specifically in the film turned Carrey off? Was it the 10 cops that were brutally murdered, was it his own character, was it Hit-Girl slicing guys on the street or was it the attempted rape of one character by another? He should have read the script of the film or even seen the original, so nothing in the film should have surprised him. Nonetheless, trying to figure out why is futile, instead you should appreciate Carrey’s standout performance. It’s a shame his character wasn’t featured enough and given more moments to shine because he had a better backstory than any off the other new characters.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s character The Motherfucker is a sadistic boy who never really felt like a proper villain. His motivations were blurry, never going beyond revenge and never reaching beyond a sadistic child. He just revels in blood and violence, never giving any real villainous motivations to all the carnage he causes. His character Red Mist was goofy, earnest and much more villainous than The Motherfucker.
If all you want from Kick-Ass 2 is to see a man get killed by a lawn mower or worse than it won’t disappoint. If you wanted an entertaining film that was a satirical look at society than you will be disappointed. More numbing and tedious than dramatic or funny, makes Kick-Ass 2 a mediocre affair.
Score: 5 dismembered bodies out of 10