Upon its release in 2010, Kick-Ass was something that audiences had never really seen before. It examined what would happen to superheroes in the real world, with plenty of exaggerated violence and foul language thrown in for good measure. Its critical and commercial success spoke for itself, proving that superhero films didn’t need heroes with super-strength, limitless resources, or magical powers to appeal to audiences. Now, with the release of Kick-Ass 2, this formula is expanded upon and explored even further, once again delivering all of the outrageousness that made the first film so much fun. While this sequel doesn’t surpass its predecessor, it does manage to delve deeper into the characters and prove that this franchise still has some life left in it.
Having saved New York from the clutches of Frank D’Amico, Dave(Kick-Ass) and Mindy(Hit Girl) both struggle with balancing their normal lives and their superhero lives. When Mindy’s guardian, Marcus, urges her to give up the Hit Girl mantle, it seems like the Hit Girl/Kick-Ass team-up is over and done with. But when the vengeful Red Mist becomes the first supervillian, The Motherf*cker, and begins a brutal rampage across New York City, Dave and Mindy must assume the roles they were meant to play as Kick-Ass and Hit Girl.
Aaron Johnson steps back into his role as the titular hero quickly and effortlessly, this time adding a new level of depth and emotion that he didn’t have last time. Chloe Grace Moretz steals the show once again as the bad-ass/foul-mouthed Hit Girl, whose role in the film’s chain of events is much more demanding this time around. As expected, Moretz delivers a performance that walks a fine line between brilliant and mildly disturbing. Jim Carrey shines as Colonel Stars and Stripes, and while his screen time is limited, he makes the most of it. Christopher Mintz-Plasse delivers a confusing performance as The Motherf*cker. On one hand, he does a superb job at presenting his character as an angry, tormented soul whose thirst for revenge is insatiable. On the other hand, his moments of villainy are soiled by cheesy one-liners and odd wardrobe selections that make it impossible for viewers to take him seriously.
The film excels at developing and expanding on characters from the first film, as well as introducing new characters that audiences will undoubtedly connect with very quickly. Director Jeff Wadlow handles the emotional tension extremely well, deftly blending touching character moments with intense, pulse-pounding action sequences to keep our adrenaline going.
Usually, before a film’s climax, there is buildup. There has to be, or the climax has no impact. Unfortunately, Kick-Ass 2 has no build-up before its conclusion. It sneaks up on viewers like a cheetah would on its prey, and we are left breathless but underwhelmed. The film’s final fight scene is fantastic, but it comes up on audiences so quickly that there is little time to register what is happening.
The film also falters in maintaining a consistent tone. Any dark undertones the movie might present are overshadowed by misplaced moments of silliness that might confuse viewers on what the film is trying to achieve. The film seems unsure as well, hurriedly jumping from gut-busting humor to brutal fight scenes in a matter of seconds. Hopefully, if the studio deems it necessary to make a third film, they’ll find a happier medium between humor and seriousness.
Those quibbles aside, Kick-Ass 2 is solid summer entertainment, delivering the same brand of thrills and laughs that made the first one such a hit. Those who enjoyed the first film will definitely want to check this out.
3.5 out of 5 stars