Kick-Ass, the adaptation of Mark Millar’s comic series, was a thrilling surprise hit that was both wildly entertaining and hilarious. The first installment worked so well because it knew what it was and took that fully in stride, taking us on bloody journey that was a ridiculously fun time. I still remember the thrill of seeing it in theaters for the first time, which is saying something.
We have waited three years for the sequel and although its finally here, it’s not quite the vision that I hoped to see. Matthew Vaughn, the director and writer of Kick-Ass is only a producer this time around with Jeff Wadlow taking over the direction and script, and it shows. Wadlow’s credits include Never Back Down and Cry_Wolf; not the most impressive films. I still had hope that the film would be able to stand on its own two feet, but it was obvious right from the get-go that this was going to be a completely different experience.
Kick-Ass/Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit-Girl/Mindy (Chloë Grace Moretz) are now both at high school and are trying to balance normal life with their lives as superheroes. Dave joins a Avengers-type group of superhero vigilantes know as “Justice Forever” led by Colonel Stars And Stripes (Jim Carrey). Meanwhile Mindy struggles with the transition of living with her guardian Marcus Williams (Morris Chestnut) who wants her to give up her life as Hit-Girl and try to become a regular teenager. Chris D’Amico, formerly Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) lives his life counting the days until he can extract his revenge on Kick-Ass for killing his father. He makes it his life mission, deciding to become The Motherfucker, the head villain in a cast of shady characters that make it their mission to take down Kick-Ass, and anyone else who gets in their way.
While Wadlow tries to keep the tone of the film similar to Vaughn’s, it’s just not the same. The writing just seems loose and lazy at times, with many plot points that just seem to get brushed under the rug with minimal care. For example, Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca) who was a huge part of the first film, is back for only a minute in one of the most lazy scenarios possible. Then there’s the case of Dave’s friends Marty and Todd. Marty (Clark Duke) is fine, but Todd who was played by Evan Peters the last time around has been replaced by the charisma-free Augustus Prew. The film is in on the joke that a new actor is playing Todd, which I commend, but it just didn’t work. I understand that Peters has moved onto bigger things, but they should have just introduced a new character or left him out.
Jim Carrey is great as Colonel Stars And Stripes but it was surprising and disappointing how little he’s actually in the film. It was more of an extended cameo than anything. Considering how little he’s in this thing, it only makes his drama about being against the film because of its violence seem that more asinine.
The one thing the film did get right was the handling of Hit-Girl, who arguably has just as much focus as Kick-Ass, if not more. This works, as she is the most intriguing character, large in part to the wonderful Chloë Grace Moretz. We start to see her really grow up, and this includes dealing with bitchy high school girls, and starting to see boys in a romantic light for the first time. We see her start to get closer to Dave in a romantic way that took me by surprise, but was handle with enough caution and care to work. Christopher Mintz-Plasse is also strong as The Motherfucker. He gives us a performance that makes us hate him but also sympathize for him, as he is clearly a misguided young man.
The performances are all where they need to be, and the film will make you laugh at times for the ridiculous character names, dialogue and violence. This was what made the first film so great, but Kick-Ass 2 only partially reaches these achievements, making this installment a disappointing sequel. The script has a clear lack of focus that never full draws you in, leaving you feeling far removed which is not a sign of a good comic book movie.
The first film did well critically, but barely did well enough at the box office to warrant this sequel, which just barely got made. That doesn’t look good for a Kick-Ass 3, but if they plan to head in the same direction as this, a decent, but forgettable superhero movie, than maybe this should be it. It would be a real shame, because these characters deserve so much better