2010’s surprise hit, Kick Ass, was a rare combination of a fresh idea and unique delivery. Being one of the few comic book movies that dared to go into the realm of R ratings, its uncensored violence gave it an enjoyable sense of over-the-top, ridiculous fun. With Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the titular role and Chloe Grace Moretz as the films true standout Hit Girl, fans of comics gravitated toward the film for doing something different than the rest of the genre, which at times can be accused of playing it safe.
So what happens when you replace the original films talented director Matthew Vaughn (X-Men First Class) with a relatively unknown Jeff Wadlow (Never Back Down) and the demon known as expectation? Well, as it turns out, you get something that feels significantly stale and even a bit soulless.
I Always Wondered Why No One Had Ever Tried To Be A Superhero Before Me
Kick Ass 2 starts in much the same way that it’s predecessor did, with Taylor-Johnson’s Dave Lizewski narrating the tale of his late high school years. Recapping the exploits of the first film, we learn that Dave had made good on his promise to give up being Kick Ass and finish his days as a high school student, looking out for the more than capable Mindy Macready/Hit Girl as she had been orphaned by the events that took place earlier.
Dave soon becomes bored with his normal life, as many are known to do, and decides randomly to pick back up where he left off, trying to become the superhero the world had known him as before. The beginning of this film feels very much like a beat-for-beat rehashing of the first film, complete with the comical montage of Dave showing off his complete lack of skill when it comes to fighting crime, and having to turn to Mindy for help. This time she helps train him with the intention of teaming up to become a crime fighting duo. The problem is that it all ends too quickly and has no bearing on how Dave handles himself in the field, it’s as if he’s learned nothing by the end of the film.
Where the film begins to falter early is in the decision to make Mindy question her decision to be Hit Girl. After a few cool sequences that had Mindy training Dave, showing him learning martial arts, she quickly gives up on the life after she is challenged by her new caretaker and fathers best friend, Marcus. The motivation seems off-kilter to me, as the decision comes directly after Mindy gives a speech about a promise made to her father to never stop protecting the city, and how she couldn’t even think about defying those words.
But she does, and the story that stems from that is both uninteresting and extremely juvenile. Mindy is forced, for some reason, into the popular group of girls in high school, where everyone talks in cliche’s and treat each other like bitches, because high school girls, right? It’s boring, annoying and saving you from any spoilers, the eventual solution to the story is a level of sophomoric humor that is so far outside the realm of entertaining, it barely fits the description of comedy. I can understand the decision to give conflict to Mindy’s life after her fathers death, but the way it was presented takes away from the enjoyment of the film greatly.
Meanwhile, Dave has decided he will continue trying to team up with someone to fight crime, with or without Hit Girls help, and it’s with this new team that the film has a chance to shine for a bit. The formation of the “super” team, Justice Forever, introduces a multitude of new characters that vary in degrees of success, from the pointless duo of grieving parents (that sounded heartless) known as Remembering Tommy, to Dave’s new love interest Night Bitch, and the groups leader, former mafia hit man Colonel Stars and Stripes, the group has plenty of diversity which help the story.
Jim Carrey has been making news lately about his involvement with this film, mainly by trying to remove himself from the material due to a conscience being grown following a few tragic events involving real-life violence that took place after the filming of Kick Ass 2. But, for the time he is in the film, he is the best addition to it. The comedian undergoes a transformation, becoming barely recognizable under the facial makeup and his heavily altered voice. Colonel Stars and Stripes and his dog Eisenhower are funny, if not short-lived in the grand scheme of the film.
Really, what brings the enjoyment of this film down significantly from the original is that it seems to lack any fresh ideas, and opts rather to rehash the same plot, just changing a few of the characters around. The villain remains largely the same as the first film, only Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Chris D’Amico has now taken over his deceased fathers operation, and has hired his own variation of muscle to dress up in costumes, rather than suits like real movie gangsters.
It all feels kind of lifeless, just treading on the name of the original film and hoping we enjoy it as much. But rather than taking any chances, the enjoyment I was able to squeeze out of Kick Ass 2 comes solely from my love from the characters and not from the action or comedy taking place on screen. Even the inclusion of one of my favorite Scrubs actors, Donal Faison, wasn’t enough to get me really excited watching this movie, and should there be a third, I will go into it being much more cautious with my excitement.