Kick Ass 2

Posted: August 27, 2013 in Film reviews
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Directed by Jeff Wadlow. Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloë Moretz

In 2010 Kick Ass exploded onto our screens, controversial, violent and very funny…it also introduced us to Hit Girl, played by then 13 year old Chloë Moretz, and in fact much of the controversy revolved around her character, and the fact that she A/killed a whole bunch of people, and B/Said an awful lot of very naughty words.

Three years later and the sequel makes its way onto our cinema screens, but does Kick Ass 2 kick ass, or barely provide a mild spanking…

Its several years after the end of the first film and Dave (Kick Ass—Taylor-Johnson just about pulling off playing a character about 6/7 years younger than himself) has retired from crime fighting. He’s bored though, so enlists the help of Mindy (Hit Girl) to train him up and become his partner, and pretty soon Kick Ass is back in action…and much like the first film back getting his ass often kicked.

Mindy meanwhile is living a double life, since her dad’s death she’s become the ward of one of her father’s cop buddies Marcus. Marcus thinks Mindy’s going to school like a normal teenage girl…Mindy is actually cutting classes so she can cut through crime as Hit Girl.

Eventually Marcus catches on to what Mindy’s really up to, and uses emotional blackmail to make her quit being Hit Girl. Alone once more Dave searches the internet and makes contact with a team of DIY superheroes led by the tough, yet prudish, Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). The team includes, amongst others, Doctor Gravity (Scrub’s Donald Faison) who isn’t really a doctor and can’t really control gravity, Insect Man, Battle Guy and Night Bitch.

Whilst Kick Ass and his superfriends start making a dent in the city’s underworld, Mindy has a different fight on her hands, against bitchy teenage girls as she tries to fit in as a normal 15 year old.

But when Mintz-Plasse (Red Mist in the first film) reinvents himself as the super villain; The Mother F-cough-er and starts building an army of evil henchmen as part of a plan to take down Kick Ass, things get far too real for the DIY superheroes.

Sequels are tricky, especially superhero sequels, do you go for more of the same, or something radically different? There are positives and pitfalls in both approaches, and Kick Ass 2 tries to straddle the line. On the one hand it takes the premise of the original, what if ordinary people just started dressing up as super heroes, and widens the scope to create an Avengers like team, but on the other hand it tries something different by stripping Mindy of her Hit Girl persona for much of the film, giving her a very different battle to fight.

On the whole I think the film manages to succeed, repeating a lot of what made the first film enjoyable, whilst adding something new.

Probably the best thing about it is Moretz, convincing both as a ludicrously dangerous superhero and as a fragile young girl trying to fit in. she’s run a close second by Christopher Mintz-Plasse who’s funny, somewhat disturbing, and even, on occasion, tragic. Taylor-Johnson has his moments, though he really is getting too old to play the high school student now.

What the film does lack is anything as wonderfully surreal as Nicholas Cage’s Adam West inspired Big Daddy, but then something like that would be hard to replicate. Carrey’s Colonel Stars and Stripes could have ended up trying to fill the void, but the role isn’t written or directed that way, and Carrey thankfully doesn’t go all Riddler on us.

On the villain front, aside from The Mother F-cough-er it’s only Mother Russia (played by body builder Olga Kurkulina) who stands out, destroying a whole army of cops singlehandedly, and her fight with Hit Girl is a superhero fight at its best.

Controversy wise Kick Ass 2 offers more of the same, ultra violence and a lot of swearing, and I suspect Colonel Stars and Stripes’ downer on bad language and Marcus’ swear jar for Mindy are non-too subtle swipes at many of the complaints about the first film. I can’t help feeling that Kick Ass 2 is less contentious than its predecessor. Certainly the first film, much as I enjoyed it, made me feel a little uncomfortable in places. In many respects this might simply be down to Moretz being older, so seeing her act and swear as she did in the first film doesn’t quite come across as shocking as it once did.

If the film has problems it’s in its tone, and in what it’s trying to say. Tonally balancing funny with violent is a hard trick to pull off, and the film doesn’t always manage it, and as for the message, it seems confused about this. It seems to be saying wearing a mask is dangerous, that this is real life not a comic book, whilst also lionising those who strap on the lycra and embroiling them in situations right out of a comic book.

But in the end I laughed a lot, I winced a bit, I was on the edge of my seat on occasion, and I silently cheered more than a few times (and almost out loud when Hit Girl announced “Game on, cocksuckers!”) and I’m not sure what else you can expect from a film featuring characters called Kick Ass and The Mother F-cough-er.

It isn’t big, it isn’t clever, but it is enjoyable.

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