I loved the first ‘Kick-Ass’, it combined a care-free sweary attitude with some bloody violence and was a breath of fresh air from the standard comic book movie, superhero fare. Fast forward a few years and the sequel is with us, in an age where cinemas are dominated perhaps even moreso by more and more superhero flicks. So, does the sequel manage to stand out as much as its predecessor? Has it managed to transfer the spirit of the first despite losing director Matthew Vaughn?
The answer is a resounding yes!
Whilst this sequel doesn’t quite match the blood-stained highs of the first film, it certainly gives it a good go. New man Jeff Wadlow isn’t quite as adept as Vaughn, with the result being that the film feels less fluent than the original. It’s a lot of fun though, and raises the bar for set-pieces, sure there aren’t any heart-breaking moments like the death of Big Daddy, but we get bloodier, swearier and cruder!
There were lots of laughs and this is a franchise I fully ENJOY watching. The actors involved aren’t overused, have genuine talent and charisma and have good chemistry. The main trio, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass), Chloe Grace Moretz (Hit Girl) and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (formerly Red Mist, but now christened The Motherfucker) all hit the ground running, with their various plotlines forming the core of the film. You like these people and characters due to the success of the first film, and they grow substantially. Moretz is the star, still only 16, her performance as Mindy McCready, is excellent. She’s funny, got great range and you just like her! Her second big film of the year, ‘Carrie’, is now a must-see for me.
Mintz-Plasse, forever known as ‘McLovin’, is great too, getting stuck into being a real, proper baddie. I’d heard his character went to very dark places in the film’s graphic novel, written simultaneously as the film, but whilst we don’t get horrible scenes, you do believe he’d have it in him if pushed. He’s a great comic, and I’d like to see him in other comedies soon. Taylor-Johnson is probably the most interchangable of the trio, whereas Moretz and Mintz-Plasse MAKE their characters, Kick-Ass could easily be played by someone else. That’s not to say he’s bad, but the Brit is just average in his role as the hapless hero.
The storyline centres around Kick-Ass and The Motherfucker gaining superhero and villainous crews to join them, with Hit Girl’s running sub-plot of her school troubles. This enables a whole new bunch of characters to be thrown into the fray. We get Colonel Stars and Stripes, with Jim Carrey hitting top form again in a smallish role, the guy who drags Kick Ass and co together to form Justice Forever. It’s nice to see Carrey back in a big film, and being funny again, a thing some doubted given his recent lack of any screentime. Other accomplices of Justice Forever include Night Bitch, Dr Gravity and Battle Boy, it’s hard to get into each of their characters, and we are given sneak glimpses into their alter-egos, although I did like the way they used Night Bitch as a pawn….
The Motherfucker is one thing, but his crew are named ‘The Toxic Mega C**ts’, and include an MMA fighter, a 7 foot tall Russian bodyguard, an Asian murderer and a small fella…called The Tumour. As I said, this film won’t be for everyone! Again, they aren’t given too much screen time, but are able arseholes, you don’t like any of them, and Mother Russia is a fierce screen presence, you fear for anyone who crosses their path.
Mindy’s schoolife is dominated by a ‘Mean Girls’-esque group of girls, and is almost its own film. It also allows Moretz to expand and show her acting range, creating some real heart-breaking moments, and showing that despite all the cussing, all the severed limbs and dark, dark comedy, it has a beating heart! Slightly tinged, but still beating. However, it does lead to a ridiculous scene, that there is no reasonable explanation for, featuring a One Direction lookalike boyband, who I discovered afterwards ARE AN ACTUAL BAND. I thought it was a parody but it is essentially a 90 second advert for the band…there is a funny ending to the scene, which almost lets it off, but not quite.
Overall, the film is pretty good. It has a tonne of gross-out humour, with the introduction of a ‘nauseating’ device (you’ll know what I mean when you see it!), a large slice of the bloody, gory violence that compliments this series and a couple of sneaky c-words again from Moretz, to boot. It’s a nice extension and accompaniment to the first, and does many things right. For example, the end finale is like a BETTER version of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, end Batman vs Bane battle sequence. There are some striking images, with the comic-booky colour palette and shooting style of director Wadlow working hand in hand to great effect.
The more I think about ‘Kick-Ass 2′, the more I realize how much I enjoyed it. It’s fun, has a heart somewhere and has plenty of action to boot. It’s probably my favourite superhero film of the summer, beating out the seriousness of ‘Man of Steel‘, and the ‘safety net’ of ‘Iron Man 3′. You aren’t sure who’s going to perish, and who’s going to survive, and that is the strength of the material, of it being new and fresh and adaptable. It’s not the greatest film you’ll ever see, and you may have to be of a certain level of maturity to properly love it, but check it out…and stick around till after the credits!