Starting this weekend in theaters from Universal Studios is the eagerly awaited sequel to the 2010 cult film that hit large on home video, Kick-Ass 2. This time around the film is under the reigns of writer/director Jeff Wadlow and only produced by the original’s director Matthew Vaughn. The graphic novel sequel to Kick-Ass, Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall, is a veritable blood bath, which beckons the question of how the film will translate to the theater screen.
Written and Directed by Jeff Wadlow
When we last saw junior assassin Hit Girl (Moretz) and young masked hero Kick-Ass (Taylor-Johnson), they were trying to live as normal teenagers Mindy and Dave. With graduation looming and uncertain what to do with their shared calling, Dave decides to start the world’s first superhero team with Mindy. Unfortunately, when Mindy is busted for sneaking out as Hit Girl, she’s forced to retire, leaving her to navigate the terrifying world of high-school mean girls on her own. With no one left to turn to, Dave joins forces with Justice Forever, run by a born-again ex-mobster named Colonel Stars and Stripes (Carrey). Just as they start to make a real difference on the streets the rechristened Red Mist, now the self-proclaimed super-villain The Motherfucker (Mintz-Plasse) assembles his own evil league and puts a plan in motion to make Kick-Ass and Hit Girl pay for what they did to his dad.
Kick-Ass 2 tries to recapture the magic of the first film but never quite gets there. Johnson is good back in Kick Ass mode, though the goofiness that his original performance carried due to his inability to fight and gangly awkwardness is gone with a buff and trained Dave this time around. Moretz does what she can but is wasted and handcuffed with a terrible subplot this time around. Jim Carrey has little more than a glorified cameo, but his Col Stars and Stripes is a great characterization, a born again Christian version of Rambo, and is sorely missed after his departure. But the best performance comes from Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the newly rechristened ‘Motherfucker’ who discovers after getting beaten up multiple times that his evil villain superpower is that he has tons of money. Motherfucker plays out as an unhinged yet scrawny and spoiled brat and Mintz-Plasse is enjoying the hell out of it.
The biggest issue that Kick Ass 2 runs into is that it doesn’t stick with a tone for the film which results in an uneven film that can’t decide whether it is a dark comic action picture or a light awkward teen comedy. Two years have passed between the first film and Dave is a high school senior while Mindy is now a 15 year old sophomore in the same school (up to a 4 year difference between her age from the first film as she is a 11 year old in the comic book but her age is not 100% clear in the first film). This level of creative scripting allows the film to bring a level of sexual tension between Dave and Mindy that never works and has an extremely lackluster payoff. In fact Moretz has been done a great disservice in this second film. Her Mindy is crammed into an unoriginal “Mean Girls” subplot that never fits the darker tone of the rest of the film and leads to one of the most moronic sequences involving a “weapon” on film this year. The sequence feels straight out of a “Jackass” film as Johnny Knoxville and crew would have a lot more fun with this tool. The final act is a blood bath with an all-out brawl at the center of it and the scene stealing Mother Russia (Kurkulina) and Hit Girl going blow for blow. Kick-Ass renews fisticuffs with Motherfucker in an anticlimactic fight that lacks all the charm that their final fight from the first film packs in.
Despite its faults, fans of the original Kick-Ass will find enough to latch onto here to enjoy the film. It’s nowhere near as inspired as the original film was and never finds the right balance between comedy and violence that Matthew Vaughn so adeptly straddled, but the characters are a welcome return and Hit Girl in whatever truncated version we may get is still better than no Hit Girl at all. Kick-Ass 2 is a mild recommend.
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