Directed by Jeff Wadlow.
Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey, John Leguizamo, Morris Chestnut, Clark Duke, Claudia Lee, Lyndsy Fonseca, Robert Emms, Lindy Booth, Daniel Kaluuya, Andy Nyman, and Olga Kurkulina.
Kick-Ass was a revelation when it was released in 2010. It wasn’t the box-office monster that came in tow with the Dark Knights, Spider-Men or mutant super-teams, but what it did have was a fresh perspective. A new, exciting look at out fascination with superheroes, and what if a normal guy with no super powers and no wealth dressed up in a strange diving costumer and fought crime in real world USA? Matthew Vaughn’s biting film, with its dark humour, violent overtones and good (not just good, great) performance from Nicolas Cage, earned many a positive remark. Now, three years later and under new leadership, Kick-Ass is back more ripped but strangely saggy.
With Matthew Vaughn in a producing rather than directing capacity here, Vaughn and co. opted for relative unknown director Jeff Wadlow, whose biggest hit thus far was high-school “fighting” film, Never Back Down. But as a fan of the comic-books, he was given the go-ahead, and for the most part does an effective job, if not a world-beating effort. His slick, choppily edited style is well suited to the sequel, and keeps the pace going well throughout. It’s in the script, and more so the tone of the film, where it comes up short.
The sequel tries hard to replicate the black humour of the original, utilising Clark Duke’s comedy knack to good effect, but somehow manages to not only waste Jim Carrey’s considerable talents, but it feels the need to reduce the franchise down to fart and poo jokes. Here at times, it just seems to have severe sequel-itis, and that bigger means bloodier and broader than truly stretching the material. Case in point, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chris Mintz-Plasse: refreshing and exciting in the first, bland and lacklustre in the sequel. Both are decent enough actors, but here both are sadly below par, and their characters’ slow-building battle royale is more damp squib than fiery crescendo.
Thank god then for the brilliant Chloe Grace Moretz, who is the best thing on show here. Her performance in the first was anchored by the lunacy of Nicolas Cage, but here she spreads her wings wonderfully, both as Hit-Girl and as an actress, and comes out swinging. With this and her role in the Carrie remake to come, this could be the year for Moretz to firm up her place as Hollywood’s hottest young talent. Outside of Moretz, the aforementioned Clarke Duke is great, and there is a super turn from Scrubs alum Donald Faison as Doctor Gravity, who gets some of the film’s best lines.
Then, there’s Jim Carrey. Controversially keeping his distance from the film, Carrey tries hard to breathe new life into his sadly declining career with something different, but his Colonel Stars and Stripes is also a bit of damp squib. A lot has been made of his decision to withdraw his support due to the violence in the film, but its even more surprising on viewing the film, as the Colonel is involved in some of the film’s more violent moments. Correct decision or not, this is sadly not quite the continuation of his return to form after his great turn in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.
If it sounds like a mixed bag, truth be told it is, but don’t let that cloud the fact that Kick-Ass 2 is still very enjoyable. Some of the action scenes are good fun, and have some decent laughs despite the less biting tone, but without the superb turn of Moretz, it would have fallen well short of the original. As it is, it’s not quite what we were hoping for, but it’s still worth taking the ride.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★