You Can’t Fight Your Destiny
The plot for Kick Ass 2 is an amalgamation of the Hit Girl and Kick Ass 2 comic series, which probably accounts for the slightly disjointed and split narrative. The story opens a few years (presumably) after the events in Kick Ass. Dave Lizewski [Taylor-Johnson] hasn’t patrolled as the crime fighter Kick Ass in a long time, giving way to other new vigilantes. Following the death of her father, Mindy Macready [Moretz] is forced into a ‘normal’ school life by her adoptive father, Marcus (played by Morris Chestnut but regularly skips out on school to train. Desperate to avenge the death of his own father, Chris D’Amico [Mintz-Plasse] dons the super-villain persona The Mother Fucker. While he has no powers or real physical skill, he has a very large sum of mob money that he uses to fund his evil organisation. Stepping up to the threat, Kick Ass returns and unites with other vigilantes to form the Justice Forever team. What is essentially a feud between two embittered teenagers escalates dramatically and both Mindy and Dave have to analyse whether they are doing the right thing by dressing up in costumes and fighting crime.
Dealing with the notion of identity and whether or not to take up the mantle of hero, this movie suffers in a similar manner to The Dark Knight Rises. While the absence of a costumed Batman in that film had a solid impact on the story, it meant that the audiences found the villain more engrossing and compelling. The same can be said here, except without the serious dramatic elements of a Nolan release, it just plays off as a trifle dull. Then there’s the realistic side of the story (the high school elements), which were fairly interesting and aided the character’s growth, yet became detrimental to the narrative flow and never really entered the coveted Mean Girls territory. There’s also a great deal of emotional potential that simply fails to deliver, as if the event simply didn’t happen. For example, Katie (Dave’s girlfriend from the first film) breaks off their relationship because he’s distracted with crime fighting and believes Dave is seeing Mindy but this is never addressed again. She’s simply shuffled off-screen and apparently out of Dave’s mind entirely. So after a slow start and lacklustre build, you’d expect at least a thrilling conclusion but while the final showdown wasn’t so much anti-climactic, it was a little too bland – I appreciate these characters are powerless vigilantes but the hand-to-hand fighting was visually very simplistic and unengaging.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is still great as Kick Ass but the beefier he gets, the more ridiculous his casting becomes. The same goes for Chloe Grace Moretz. I know you can’t halt the aging process but the older Hit Girl gets, the more edge is taken off. And yet both actors still give great performances and retain that level of familiar silliness from the source material. Additionally Clark Duke, John Leguizamo, Lindy Booth, Donald Faison and Jim Carrey offer neatly memorable performances but surprisingly aren’t really utilised more than a handful of scenes. Christopher Mintz-Plasse, on the other hand, takes things to a whole other level but I’ll expand on that in greater detail later.
From start to finish, Kick Ass 2 is commendable superhero fare. This is both a praiseworthy note and ultimately why the film falters. It never pushes the envelope or elevates itself nor does it bore or overly disappoint you. The one outstanding feeling is that Vaughn’s direction is sorely missed. The very definition of a sequel is to surpass the original with heightened outlandishness, crazy setups and ridiculous payoffs. Nowhere in the cinematic universe does this work, save for superhero films. Yet somehow Kick Ass 2 seems to have a smaller scale than the first movie. This is largely because the majority of the sequences are simply presented to the audience. Here’s a school bully scene.. and here’s a scene between Dave and his father. And all the audience can do is quietly murmur, “Yes, I see that, I’m waiting for something to happen.” A point of frustration which I found rather surprising. Despite claims of excessive violence and gore, this film is actually quite tame and feels reserved in its foul language, violence and outrageousness. One thing the Kick Ass franchise should do is present audiences with typical comic book scenarios in the real-world.. before turning that notion on its head and delivering the absurd. Point in case, Dave’s first attempt to stop crime in Kick Ass led to him being stabbed, assaulted and run down by a car. Yes, it escalates to something bonkers but it starts out with an explanation of why nobody actually tries to fight crime in this way. Kick Ass 2, while bleating about the consequences of the character’s actions, rarely shows us that realism that the story desperately needs. Overall it’s a bit fun, a bit silly and bit heartfelt but never strides into really impressive territory, coming off like a direct-to-video sequel, despite the returning lead cast.
16th August 2013
The Scene To Look Out For:
Learning Night Bitch’s [Booth] secret identity, The Mother Fucker invades her home and attempts to rape her. Horrific concept (that is quite gruesome in the comic) but rather than having the character gang-raped, The Mother Fucker hisses “Time to see what evil dick tastes like” before realising he can’t get an erection due to the pressure. It’s a silly scene that uses malicious humour to undercut a rather serious and despicable act; hence humiliating the would be attacker. Which to me.. is very funny.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse is a joy to watch in this film. From the outset to close, every single scene he’s in is exquisite. Similar to Hit Girl in the first film, The Mother Fucker is the most memorable and quotable thing in the film. Watching him desperately trying to emulate his mob family and become the evil villain he thinks he is while continually fucking up (knocking himself in the face with his own gun, obtaining the wrong kind of fertilizer for explosives) is a delight.
“Why do I need to go back to school? You just taught me everything I need to know”
In A Few Words:
“Entertaining throughout but lacks the fun and over-the-top absurdity of its predecessor. At this point, a third instalment seems thoroughly unlikely”