Benjamin has been reviewing films online since 2004 and has seen way more action movies than he should probably admit to!
What's the Big Deal?
Kick-Ass 2 is an action comedy superhero film released in 2013, and it is based on the comic book of the same name by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. Written and directed by Jeff Wadlow, the film follows teenage wannabe superhero Kick-Ass join up with a larger team of self-styled crime fighters while his former colleague Hit-Girl attempts to navigate the perils of high school. The film stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey, Donald Faison, Morris Chestnut and Clark Duke. The film serves as a sequel to the original Kick-Ass and sees many cast members return alongside a host of new characters. The film is perhaps most notable for Jim Carrey's sudden refusal to publicly endorse the film in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting. Critical reception was largely negative and the film struggled to earn $60.8 million worldwide. While plans for a third film or a spin-off featuring Hit Girl has been often mentioned, no has been no sign of a third film in the series as of the time of writing. Producer Matthew Vaughn has hinted that a reboot is instead being produced.
What's It About?
Four years after becoming the internet sensation Kick-Ass and defeating mob boss Frank D'Amico, Dave Lizewski regrets retiring as the costumed crime-fighter and joins up again with Mindy Macready (also known as Hit-Girl) to begin training full-time to become a proper superhero. While the pair of them train in secret, Frank's insane son Chris inherits his father's criminal business after accidentally killing his mother during her sunbed session. Alongside his father's right-hand man Javier, Chris swiftly converts some BDSM gear and adopts a super-villain persona with a foul-mouthed name - something I can't type here but if I mention "Samuel L. Jackson" then you probably get the idea.
As the increasingly unhinged Chris begins forming a cabal of ridiculous villains in order to seek revenge on Kick-Ass, Mindy and Dave fall out over their training regime. Encouraged by her guardian Marcus, Mindy decides to leave Hit-Girl behind and try living life as a normal teenage girl in high school while Dave, fully embracing his role as Kick-Ass, seeks a new crime-fighting unit to join and quickly finds the so-called Dr Gravity. Gravity leads Kick-Ass to a group of fellow like-minded costumed characters who were inspired by Kick-Ass' antics on social media, led by the patriotic lunatic Colonel Stars & Stripes.
What's to Like?
The first Kick-Ass was hardly a classic but it at least provided an entertaining alternative to the slew of superhero films released at the time in the wake of Marvel's Iron Man. It was brutal, shocking and neatly parodied the idea of superheroes by placing them in a more lifelike and realistic setting. Sadly, Kick-Ass 2 drops the ball and badly. The only thing that saves the film is Chloe Grace Moretz once again, her Hit Girl character being far more interesting and enjoyable than anyone else in the film. The side-story about her trying to leave her crime-fighting past behind and integrate into normal high school, via the Mean Girls antics of Claudia Lee's character Brooke, is different and far more interesting than the main story. I do hope we see more of Hit-Girl but given how much time has passed since, I have my doubts that Moretz could realistically play a teenager any more. She's a great actress, no question, but this may be beyond ever her.
Other than that, there really isn't much to see here. Forgiving fans of the first film might enjoy the fight sequences which are energetic and imaginative, shot with a sense of cartoony fun but with digital gore added to justify the rating. I'm not surprised Carrey felt queasy recommending the film after Sandy Hook because the camera lingers on fights in the same way that Baywatch lingered on Pamela Anderson's running style. And while the first film's comedy came from things like Nicolas Cage's suitably odd performance as Big Daddy and the absurdity of superheroes in real life, Kick-Ass 2 goes all in with the weirdness and none of the humour. Even Carrey's star-studded cameo is devoid of his trademark zaniness as he feels firmly in dramatic mode but playing a character supposed to be funny. It's very... odd.
- Comic creator Mark Millar was actually delighted by Carrey's refusal to endorse the film due to the levels of violence within. Millar felt that it was like complaining that a porno had too much nudity in it although he believed that the film dealt more with the consequences of violence rather than the violence itself.
- Moretz claimed that the film failed at the box office due to pirating, stating that Kick-Ass 2 was the most pirated film of 2013 which hurt the film's box office earnings. However, the film wasn't even in the top 10 most pirated films of the year and unlike the first film, was actually greeted by a mostly negative reception from critics.
- Colonel Stars & Stripes is an amalgamation of two characters from the comics: Colonel Stars and his brother, Lieutenant Stripes. Colonel Stars in the comic suffered from terminal cancer and did not have long to live, causing him to walk away from his role as a mob enforcer and become a born again Christian. None of this made its way into the film.
What's Not to Like?
Instead of deconstructing the superhero myth, Kick-Ass 2 falls into the trap of becoming more puerile and childish than ever. It is loaded with language just for the sake of it, as if swearing in and of itself is somehow funny. The humour that is in there is predominantly obsessed with bodily functions, from the crass 'masturbation misunderstanding' trope that feels though it was lifted straight from American Pie to the nausea-baton used that causes people to projectile vomit and poop themselves at the same time. Not exactly anyone's finest hour. Speaking of which, the cast themselves seem disengaged with the film beside Moretz - Taylor-Johnson is dull, Mintz-Plasse is just angry and not particularly threatening (he is completely shown up by Iain Glen as the jailed mob boss, presumably the baddie for the proposed third film) and Faison is essentially exactly the same as his character Turk from sitcom Scrubs. What a shame.
At no point during the film did I laugh once, something I certainly did during the first film. I did have my head in my hands, wondering just how badly they got things wrong with this sequel. It felt more idiotic than before, with nothing new to say about the madness of donning a costume and fighting crime yourself besides the possibility of having sex in a public toilet with a stranger calling herself Night Bitch. Fans are smarter than this and deserve to be treated as such. When the first film came out, Marvel hadn't yet conquered the world with its cinematic universe. When this film came out, any doubts about the box office potential for superhero films was destroyed forever thanks to the billion-dollar success of Avengers Assemble - a fun and exciting superhero ensemble that feels every bit like a cinematic comic book. While this film may stick to the source material (which I haven't read), the film feels suitably ramshackle and half-arsed as if it doesn't quite know what it's doing.
Should I Watch It?
Frankly, I wouldn't bother. Maybe my tastes have changed but this film didn't feel like it was for me, despite me enjoying the first film. It's an unpalatable blend of needless swearing, grim violence and characters impossible to relate to. Only Chloe Grace Moretz, an actor with a big future, escapes with any sort of credibility. If you ever wondered why this once-popular franchise ended prematurely, one viewing of this film will be all the answer you need.
Great For: immature viewers, teenagers who won't be able to watch the film because of the rating, absolute psychopaths
Not So Great For: continuing the series, fans of the first film, grown ups
What Else Should I Watch?
What I found really frustrating is that the first Kick-Ass is actually a lot of fun and this sequel squanders all of that good will. Lifted by an even younger Moretz alongside a hilarious Cage imitating Adam West, the film is a goofy but bloody action film that delivers plenty of silly action and the shock of hearing foul language from such a young character. Choosing between the two films is honestly no contest although there is another film that offers a look at the life of a wannabe superhero suddenly experiencing real life. Super is a surreal, low-budget indie film from James Gunn (the guy behind Guardians of the Galaxy) that sees Rainn Wilson adopt the guise of the Crimson Bolt attempting to rescue his wife from a drug dealer. It's far from perfect, being an unsteady balance of black comedy and bleak drama but it feels far truer to life than either of the Kick-Ass films.
These days, superhero films are big business - four of the top ten highest grossing films in history are part of the MCU, Marvel's record-breaking assault on multiplexes everywhere: Avengers Assemble, Spider-Man: No Way Home (still showing in theatres at the time of writing), Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame with Black Panther just outside the top ten as well. But Marvel are only the biggest fish in this particular Lazarus Pit as DC have recently tried to emulate their success. Although a number of films have done well at the box office, not many have enjoyed much critical success with Wonder Woman and Zack Snyder's four-hour cut of the previously reviled Justice League. Frankly, their efforts were already undone by the superb Dark Knight trilogy from Christopher Nolan - Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are excellent Batman movies in their own right and are simply unmissable. The final film The Dark Knight Rises made the most money but is a slight step down in terms of quality although considering how good the first two films are, this is hardly grounds for avoiding it.
Dave Lizewski / Kick-Ass
Chris D'Amico / The Motherf***er
Chloe Grace Moretz
Mindy Macready / Hit-Girl
Colonel Stars & Stripes
Detective Marcus Williams
Release Date (UK)
14th August, 2013
Action, Comedy, Crime, Superhero
© 2022 Benjamin Cox