Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kick-Ass 2 Review

Kick-Ass was an unexpected hit. Based on the comic by Mark Miller and John Romita Jr the film opened in 2010 to critical and financial success. What could have just been a loud, crude and violent mess turned out to be a clever dark comedy with amazing action scenes. The scene with Big Daddy clearing the warehouse is still one of my all time favourite action sequences in film.

Now we have a sequel that can't fly under the radar like it's predecessor. There were no expectations for the original and it turned out fantastically, can Kick-Ass 2 match the original?

Set an undetermined time after the original (at least a few years so accommodate a growing Chloe Moretz) Kick-Ass 2 picks up with a largely retired Dave Lizewski. After seeing all the new heroes popping up in the news directly inspired by his heroics as Kick-Ass, Dave decides to it's time to be a real superhero and convinces Mindy (Hit-Girl) to train him. What follows is a hilarious training montage mirroring Mindy's original training with her father, Big Daddy. A newly confident Dave joins up with some other locals heroes including Dr Gravity (Played by Turk from Scrubs) and Colonel Stars and Stripes (hammed up wonderfully by Jim Carrey) and forms their own super team, Justice Forever. Hit-Girl, however, is forced to give up the hero life at the insistence of her cop step-father. While trying to be a normal girl she tangles with the popular girls at school in a very Mean Girls-esque fashion. Meanwhile, our villain from the first film Red Mist, now called the Motherfucker (seriously) is pulling together his own team of super villains to get revenge for Kick-Ass blowing up his father with a bazooka.

If that sounds like a little too much going on, it kinda is. Especially for a movie that only runs for around 100 minutes. That's a lot to cram in. You see, the Hit-Girl plot wasn't even in the Kick-Ass 2 comic at all. She had her own little mini-series set between Kick-Ass 1 & 2. The film grabs her mini and KA2 and mashes them together into one film. Of course, Hit-Girl is the best part of this movie (and the original) so I wonder if it wouldn't of been better to have given her a solo film before tackling Kick-Ass 2. The meshing of plots leads to some bizarre tonal shifts going from black comedy, to broad comedy to gross out comedy.

Not that any of you are seeing Kick-Ass 2 for the plot, I bet. One doesn't buy a ticket to Kick-Ass 2 and expect a complex, well written plot. You want over the top violence. You want the lough out loud shock humour. You want Hit-Girl being generally amazing. Kick-Ass 2 has all of these in spades. While the action is lacking the pure style of the first film (largely in part of the change in director), there's plenty of amazing, memorable, blood splattered scenes. The freeway chase is particularly good, as is the rampage through suburbia by our villains. In fact there's one of the more memorable deaths I've ever seen in a movie takes place in that scene. The jokes are still there and you'll laugh, hard, pretty often. Sadly the jokes aren't as smart and satirical this time around and there's a large influx of crudeness and potty humour thrown in. Sure, you'll laugh at the time but feel like you should be better than that later. It's really a film where you can go in and intellectually slum it for an hour and a half.

Chloe Moretz absolutely steals the film yet again. This girl's star continues to rise exponentially. She's going to be huge in a few years. It's great to see a strong, smart female hero up on the screen. Hit-Girl gets some good character development throughout the film, especially in scenes out of costume. Her plotline is the strongest despite some truly horrible dialogue from the characters around her. I don't think the writer has ever hear real 15 year old girls speak before. Cringe worthy. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is more of the same as Kick-Ass. He doesn't suck, but he doesn't really excel either. Easily the least interesting of the leads in this one. I will say that I was impressed with how absolutely ripped he got for this. There were some gasps from the crowd when he was shirtless late in the movie. Christopher Mintz-Plasse is pretty good as The Motherfucker. His scenes assembling his super villain identity and then his team are really entertaining and over the top.

I liked the supporting cast a whole lot more than the leads. While not reaching the heights of Nic Cage in the original, Jim Carrey's Colonel Stars and Stripes is really terrific. He hams it up and steals every scene he's in. I'd dare say they kept his scenes to a minimum to avoid him stealing the whole film. It was really great to see Donald Faison of Scrubs fame turning up as Dr Gravity. Hollywood, we love this guy, put him in more things. Hell, spin his character off with Zach Braff playing his sidekick. Comedy gold right there. Clark Duke returns as Kick-Ass's best friend, Marty, with a much bigger role. This time he's in on the fun and dons a costume of his own. The fact his weapon is a riot shield shows how much fighting he really want to be involved in. This guy is always entertaining in whatever he's in. John Leguizamo has a fun role as The Motherfucker's lackey, constantly calling him out on all the cartoony ridiculousness he partakes in. Olga Kurkulina is truly devastating as Mother Russia, I'd put her badassery on par with Faora from Man of Steel. Scary, scary woman.

Ok, this is where I put on my more critical film reviewer hat. Kick-Ass 2 is a really odd film for me. At the time when I saw it, I had a great time. I laughed hard and enjoyed the action. In the week that's followed I've slowly realised things I really didn't like. I don't think this one will hold up to repeat viewings like the original. It tries very hard to be as good as Kick-Ass and fails in every way. It seems like with a little polish from original writer/director Matthew Vaughn it could have been great. The pure crudeness in some parts really threw me. I don't need to hear how a boy band video gets a 15 year old girl wet or to see a weapon that makes someone have simultaneous projectile vomiting and diarrhea. Ugh. There's a few odd script problems too. Dave's girlfriend from the first film, Katie, pops up for one scene, breaks up with him for no good reason and is never seen again.  Then she is replaced by one of the Justice Forever heroes, Night Bitch (that's seriously her name), who really just serves the same purpose as lover/motivation. Why not just have Katie follow Dave into the hero thing? Simplify things. While being the best plotline of the bunch, all the dialogue in the Hit-Girl at school portions made me cringe.

All in all, I think mileage may vary for this one. There's a lot to like and a lot to hate depending on who you are. I know just as many people who loved as hated it. In fact I myself have been quite torn between liking it or hating it. Go in with low expectations and really switch off the brain and you may enjoy it. Just don't expect it to be as good as the original.


  1. Seems like fun! :) Is it worth seeing on the big screen or should I just wait until I can download it? :)

  2. I was wondering if they were incorporating the "Hit Girl" mini-series. Sounds like a rental. Do people still "rent" movies? :D

    Damn I have another question but it's spoilery so I'll just wait and be surprised...