Review: Wadlow's 'Kick-Ass 2' Goes Through the Hard-Hitting Motions
by Jeremy Kirk
August 16, 2013
Remember back in 2010 - it wasn't that long ago - when Kick-Ass surprised everyone with its subversive but comical humor and even more taboo but energetic and badass action? The title was appropriate. A lot of taming can happen in just three years. Kick-Ass 2 takes its title from, well, the fact that it's a sequel, and it's loaded with the same subversive humor and hard-hitting, adolescent violence. But, like most studio sequels, all that worked so well with the original is delivered with minimal creativity and a severe lack of energy. The goings-on here are rarely fun, and Kick-Ass 2 is satisfied going through the familiar motions.
Following the events of Kick-Ass, the world of Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has changed. Masked "superheroes" are sprouting up all over the city thanks in large part to Dave's/Kick-Ass' heroic actions. It doesn't matter that it's Kick-Ass' friend, Mindy/Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), who's the real ass-kicker when it comes to fighting crime. But, as Kick-Ass embraces the superhero movement and the colorful characters he's now able to team up with - including a show-stealing, bang-up job by Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes - Mindy, now a high schooler, finds herself at odds with the alter ego.
It also doesn't help that Dave's actions in Kick-Ass help bring forth the world's first super villain. Dressed in black leather, wielding dual pistols, and calling himself The Motherfucker, Chris D'Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse - what's with all these three-word names?) vows a reign of destruction along with revenge.
Jeff Wadlow (Cry_Wolf) takes over directing duties from Matthew Vaughn, and while he's got the crudeness and subversion a follow-up to Kick-Ass would require, it never has the visual flare or stylishly cool high-points Vaughn film had. Kick-Ass 2 never really devolves into being ugly. Even when things get bloody, it comes off trivialThe characters would have to be somewhat lifelike for that, and the Kick-Ass franchise has definitely worked its way into full-on comic book territory. The police only seem capable of providing collateral damage to all the action, and even Mindy's police officer foster father (Morris Chestnut) shows up as a required character.
Who knows, though, if Vaughn could have even done much with the aimless wandering Kick-Ass 2's screenplay - also written by Wadlow - does for a bulk of the middle. Mindy's decision to hang up the Hit-Girl outfit early on isn't too revealing. A hero's battling with and eventual turn on their superhero ego is a staple of Part 2s. They've been done better. Watching the girl's Hell that is becoming a popular, innocent,high school girl is as dull as Kick-Ass 2 gets, not a horrible decision if it didn't take up so much of the film's time. Without much of a payoff, it just sits there, and makes you realize its only purpose is to give Hit-Girl something to do while Kick-Ass is finding his own way with a team.
Fortunately, that side of the Kick-Ass 2 coin offers a little bit more for excitement. Most of those colorful characters that make up the superheroes of this world are at the very least intriguing, even if some of them do look like rejects from Mystery Men. Donald Faison as the baseball bat-wielding Dr. Gravity and, of course, Carrey are the highlights. Sadly, when superheroes antics go from funny voices and cute delivery to the weapons they carry in their holsters, it ends up being less exciting somehow.
The action in Kick-Ass 2 is slow, choreographed, rarely ever moving the intensity meter up more than a few notches. That lack of style the franchise lost between directors is noticeable in just about every movement Kick-Ass 2 makes, chief among them being the action beats. The three storylines - Hit-Girl's high school days, Kick-Ass' hero movement, and The Motherfucker's rise to supervillain status - are clunky, bouncing off of each other for 2/3 of the film, but the action scattered throughout drops without much memorability. It isn't until the final act when the action culminates in an all-out brawl, superheroes versus supervillains, but by then, the wind has left the bag.
Taylor-Johnson and Moretz fill their respective roles rather comfortably. That whiny voice Taylor-Johnson gives Dave is as suitable as the bass that kicks in when he's playing Kick-Ass. Moretz drops F-bombs as casually and as menacingly at 15 as she did when she was 12. Take from that whatever you will. Neither bring anything new, though. Their performances here end up being just as adequate and without too much effort as everything else at work in Kick-Ass 2.
It's a simple matter of the film playing by ear. Kick-Ass didn't work as well as it did because it loaded itself down with crass dialogue and excessively violent action. It not only got by on style and energy, those were the aspects of Kick-Ass that pulled the entire package of awesomeness together. The writer/director takes everything learned from the original and mimics it the best he can for Kick-Ass 2. The film plays student to the master that was Kick-Ass, and, unlike Hit-Girl, its skills just aren't that honed.
Jeremy's Rating: 5.5 out of 10
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Reader Feedback - 9 Comments
Not sure if we saw the same movie or not, but everyone has their different take on things and I respect yours. As for myself, I really enjoyed the movie: it was funny, bloody, and I look forward to the next one.
Michael McRorey on Aug 16, 2013
Sometimes staying in familiar territory is what you what from a sequel.
Steven on Aug 16, 2013
Well the story needs to be strong in a movie with only a 100-minute running time. And although the comics might be more comprehensive, viewers shouldn't have to be familiar with them to watch the film adaption.
cobrazombie on Aug 16, 2013
I always appreciate the viewpoint in these reviews, but I'm really sick of how not one critic has commented in the COMIC BOOK this is written from. Hit girls subplot was actually fleshed out in a really entertaining way from something that just happened (in the book she just hangs up the cape and picks it up again after stars and stripes... ) The graphic novel was also extremely and unnecessarily violent in a way that was mercifully toned down, if you look for interviews with the actors you can see that they agree. All the reviews for this movie are about how either the style didn't live up to the first, which I just don't see at all, and how the story didn't live up to the first, which isn't fair since its based directly on another source material already popular and with a following fan base. Its fair that every reviewer didn't get what THEY were looking for, but would like at least one fan of the comic or comic books in general to comment on the stories poignant emphasis on exploring the consequences of violence and the necessity for real heroes, rather than complaining that the story wasn't "good enough" to live up to some need. I thought the movie was fantastic (8/10) with great performances from Chloe Mortez, Jim Carrey, Aaron Johnson (considering how unlike himself he has to be to get into that character), and Christopher Mintz-plasse. Each one has decent moments of enjoyability and I have to say by the end I was ready for Kick-Ass to bash in the Mother F****r's face, just like I wanted him to do when I followed the comic. A good, purposeful story told well as adapted from the source material. Just my opinion.
Ravek022 on Aug 16, 2013
Jeremy Kirk obviously never read the comic books, so it's quite easy to not take this review seriously. Very, very, easy.
ali3000 on Aug 17, 2013
In this film a woman is raped off camera (somehow played for laughs) and soon apologizes for being raped and states "it was my fault" while lying in a hospital bed. I am baffled by commentor's support of this rag. These are my gut reactions after watching this movie no more than an hour ago.
Logan Sexsmith on Aug 19, 2013
She isn't raped. The last line after he fails to rape her is for another thug to "hurt her... bad." It is a nod to the viewer that in the comic they went too far, with the main villain directly raping Kick-Ass' actual girlfriend not just badly, but until she dies. The humor is most likely relief from those who expected much worse seeing it not happen, just like other graphic scenes with the dog, Einstein and just a few other things that are way too far in the source material.
Ravek022 on Aug 20, 2013
When she says "it was my fault" she is saying dressing like a super hero brought them too her, blaming herself for trying to do something she felt was right.
Ravek022 on Aug 20, 2013
Kick-Ass 2 deserves a lot more credit in my opinion. I enjoyed it for a lot of reasons and I think it's absolutely not a bad sequel.
Robbie on Aug 22, 2013
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