Directed by: Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
When the early word of Kick-Ass 2 being weak sauce came out I wasn’t shocked. This can be a really challenging franchise for people to like. After all these are 14-16 year old kicks cursing like sailors and beating the snot out of each other, sometimes even killing each other. At the same time the movie plant their tongues deeply in their cheeks filling the proceedings with campy humor. This tonal mix isn’t for everyone. It’s really honestly not the kind of film franchise for the mainstream audience. The movie should haves should have been produced similar to the comic books; as small indie affairs. Marvel Comics never featured Kick-Ass as a banner title. Kick-Ass 1 and 2 are not summer super hero movies.
The first Kick-Ass was just a ton of fun if you could sell yourself on the tonal switches from funny to violent and back again. This movie still features one of Nicholas Cage’s best performances of the last decade. While she was already making an impact theatrically it could be argued that Kick-Ass was the film that truly forced filmmakers and film fans alike to stop and notice Chloe Grace Moretz. Aaron Taylor-Johnson was the headliner but he disappeared anytime she was on screen. It was her interactions with Nicholas Cage that were so magical in that film.
Here’s the problem for the sequel: the shtick isn’t fresh anymore. The language and violence that were both so shocking and so funny in the first film are expected elements in the second one so the script couldn’t ride that surprise wave this time around. The result is a movie that needed more plotting time to craft an original story that mattered and it needed some punching up in the humor department. The first 15minutes of the film are really good, lots of humor and nice energy between Moretz and Johnson. Christopher Mintz-Plasse also made a really strong and funny impact on the first film and he unfortunately is part of what drags the sequel down. The actor does the best with what he has but his character just doesn’t have the exuberance of Red Mist from the first film and he’s just not that funny, after a couple of great opening gags. By the way what’s with all of these kids and their hyphenated names? Was this part of the casting requirements?
The filmmakers may have planned for Jim Carrey to fill the role that Cage played in the first film, not really a father figure as much as just an adult figure offering that perspective and a different brand of humor. Carrey is over the top and quite funny but his role isn’t nearly as pivotal as the trailers for the film may have led you to believe. The other heroes in the film are nearly faceless outside of one of them in particular having a really funny hero name. Ok so it’s spoilery but the one that’s the funniest, probably even funnier than Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s villain name is that of Night Bitch. Come on, that’s a hilarious super hero name!
On the upside many of the action scenes are just tons of fun. The best action scenes also tend to occur during the first and last acts of the film. There’s one particularly exciting action scene featuring Hit Girl on top of a van and hanging off the door. This is really great stuff. It’s a shame that everything in the middle falls so flat. This script desperately needed to be re-worked for pacing as well as spicing up and better plotting. The bones of something great are there, mostly from the directing and acting side but they are there, a good film could have followed with more pre-production work. Sadly Kick-Ass 2 just ends up being an Ok film. You’ll walk out of the theater saying: “Well that definitely wasn’t as good as the first one”. It almost seems like Lionsgate didn’t care about this film. They dropped it on director Jeff Wadlow who previously brought us Never Back Down and Cry_Wolf, two exceptionally bad films. If Mathew Vaughn wasn’t in for the sequel as a director I’m sure the studio could have taken just a little more time and found another younger director they could get cheap that actually appeared to have some vision.