Having recently rewatched Kick-Ass and read the comics of both Hit Girl and Kick-Ass 2 I was slightly concerned going into the movie of Kick-Ass 2 how it could live up to the first or in any way bring the comics to the screen.
Well I would certainly describe the finished article as a success, albeit, in some senses, a modest one.
Any sequel is going to instantly be comparable to its forebears, but Kick-Ass 2 comes with the extra baggage of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr’s excellent series of comic books so writer/director Jeff Wadlow immediately had his work cut out for him more than most other directors.
In terms of comparisons it does lose something on its predecessor simply by not having such a strong shock factor – we know going into this that a young man, and even younger girl, are going to dish out some particularly brutal violence and banter with some especially ‘fruity’ language so that element of shock is, to a degree, lost – especially as the film cannot quite translate the sheer level of ultraviolence seen in the comic book onto the screen without lumbering the film with the ‘dreaded NC-17 rating’ (in the US that is, an 18 over here), so it is, possibly, unbelievably to anyone who’s not read the comic, a little watered down.
Telling the story of Hit Girl/Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz) coming to terms with her new life in ‘the real world’ and Kick-Ass/Dave Lizewski’s (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) ongoing personality conflict and the repercussions of their actions in the first film, specifically in relation to ‘the world’s first super villain’ it is at times, slightly unbalanced.
Some reviews have likened the Mindy Macready sub-plot to Mean Girls, and I can see why, but, thankfully, it still remembers that it’s Mean Girls with a 15-year-old homicidal vigilante in its midst so, while the Union J scene felt a bit shoehorned, the rest of the arc fitted the wider story and led to some great comedy moments as well as showing off some more of Moretz’s fine acting abilities.
This leads to a mid-section of the film that feels a bit slow as we get most of the actual story and emotional beats crammed in at the expense of some of the comedy and action and a few major shifts in tone in this portion aren’t as well handled as they might be, but they do in the end pay off as we head into the action scenes at the end of the movie.
The action scenes are one of the movies two major strong points as, even in the scenes where there are multiple characters to deal with, I never got lost and could follow each of the threads easily, unlike in many other modern action movies which often rely too much of fast editing and wobbly cameras and forget actually telling the story – here the story holds together very well and the different arcs on offer are edited to complement each other very well.
The other strong point of the movie is that it is, once again, genuinely funny. Sure some of the laughs come from shock, specifically in terms of some of the extreme violence and language, but a lot just comes from being plain old funny with Jim Carrey getting a few cracking lines and the rest of the cast not doing too bad either.
As with the first Kick-Ass, number two also plays with some of the conventions of comic book’s, comic book movies and superheroes, specifically here dealing with team-ups and, once again, superheroes in the real world. What we also get here is more of a look at supervillains in the real world and again, while this is somewhat covering ground dealt with in the first movie, it is still done well and leads to some entertaining moments.
What this all combines to make is a film that, while not quite as good as the original, is still entertaining and unlike pretty much any other comic book film coming out at the moment, while also acting as a great vehicle of Moretz who, it felt to me, was the real star of the film if not actually playing the de facto protagonist.