Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s universe they’ve created for their comic book Kick-Ass is severely twisted. Filmmaker Matthew Vaughn took that warped sense of humour and gritty violence to the big screen in 2010 where it was received with mixed reactions, but has earned cult status.
Three years later, another filmmaker has decided to capture Millar and Romita Jr.’s insanity for a balls-to-the-wall sequel. For writer/director Jeff Wadlow, the hardest part of creating Kick-Ass 2 (other than dodging a dreaded case of “sequelitis”) is snatching that baton from Vaughn and carrying on with that similar approach while upping the ante and offering new qualities.
Kick-Ass 2 could’ve been uncomfortably aggressive and loudly overblown. Fortunately, Wadlow is able to pick up the story and these characters effortlessly and place them in a new adventure that’s absolutely entertaining and never feels smutty or weak.
This time, the stakes have been raised. Christopher Mintz-Plasse returns as Chris D’Amico, a furious and juvenile villain-in-training who’s hungry for vengeance after Kick-Ass’s explosive and heroic reign. His alter ego Red Mist is finished, but his new evil persona wants to deliver his form of justice. His effect, though, is hampered by sleazy S&M gear he calls a costume and a shocking name that is repeated throughout the film….and won’t be repeated here to keep things generally PG.
Dave/Kick-Ass (played once again by Aaron Taylor-Johnson) dons the crime-fighting costume after being bored of living a regular life, and he tries to convince Mindy/Hit-Girl to team up. However, after some close calls and a protective guardian, Mindy (played by Chloë Grace Moretz) decides to hang up her cape and try to live a “normal” life. “Normal” being hanging out with preppy, cheerleading girls who chit-chat about getting to third base with guys and doing bath salts. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. It gets darker.
After the hard-hitting battles and the harsh language, the Hit-Girl side story is the only element in the movie that sticks out as rocky and an attempt to satirize something that’s been done to death. It seems out of the film’s element and we’re unsure as to where it’s heading. Luckily, it has a hilariously immature payoff with a silent but deadly weapon that no one will see coming. If you’re having the same weariness I had during these Mean Girls influenced scenes, you needn’t fret.
The main story combines attributes of The Avengers with those weird news stories about Seattle home-grown superheroes. Dave finds a calling with a local troupe of heroes led by Captain Stars and Stripes (played by an unrecognizable and well used Jim Carrey). The troupe has good intentions and the film never tries to pull one over on the audience to make anyone think differently. In a chaotic world such as this one filled to the brim with relentless brawls, it’s important to establish who the audience should be rooting for. The film also takes a couple of good shots at superhero obsession, giving the film a modern resonance.
Kick-Ass 2 is more absurd and darker with its humour and visuals than Kick-Ass, but it’s about as violent as the first round. Most importantly though, Wadlow’s sequel is non-stop adult fun with appealing stylized action. If you enjoyed Kick-Ass, you’ll accept this fittingly FUBAR’d flick with open firearms.
Movie goers revisiting the series will also get a kick out of the new heroes and baddies Kick-Ass 2 has to offer. Everyone from the evil and burly Mother Russia to kinder folk like Dr. Gravity and Night-Bitch.
So much for keeping this review “PG”…