Fans of the Kick-Ass comics knew what they were getting themselves into before they entered the screening, fans of the first film too. But did Jeff Wadlow manage to outdo what Matthew Vauhgn and Jane Goldman achieved with the first film? Did he bring the audience closer to the sick, violent world Mark Millar and John S. Romita Jr. had splurged all over the comics? Read on and find out.
Without really drawing upon the events of the Hit-Girl comic that tided readers over between the first two Kick-Ass comics, Kick-Ass 2 the film shows us familiar faces, but it is very unclear how much time has passed since the events of the first film. While it’s obvious that everyone is still of school age, it’s unclear if the explosion in popularity of being a masked vigilante happened over the course of months or a year or more.
You just don’t get the feeling that old rivalries and hatred have had the proper time to brew to full strength, to the extent that Chris (now The Motherfucker) should really be at the level of villainous, inhumane idiocy that he achieves. He just doesn’t seem to develop enough.
Most of the film’s gags revolve around the film’s antagonists. Chris repeatedly commits a string of racial and sexual faux pas, which at first you may find funny, but the way it leads up to one of the film’s most controversial scenes involving Night-Bitch isn’t so great.
[blackout]The Motherfucker tries to rape her in her home, fails, and we’re meant to find this funny – so what we should have thought had he succeeded, fudge knows. I can’t help feeling that this alteration of a scene from the comics, in which The Motherfucker is successful in raping Kick-Ass’s crush – Katie (who he doesn’t hook-up with in the comics) – is meant to be okay in the film, because it’s a “strong” female character that’s being victimised. “It’s okay, Night-Bitch can handle this, she’s a hero,” is the kind of message it seems to be sending out. Ugh.[/blackout]
The use of the grotesque in helping Mindy deal with her personal demons, meanwhile, seems a cheap, inferior version of the events as portrayed in the comic. And while it is obviously stupid to compare the two directly, I feel like we missed out on a scene that would have better suited Mindy’s character, even in the film.
Throughout the film, it felt like Wadlow was sacrificing character development for action. The rise of masked vigilantes in the New York area, those hanging with Kick-Ass as he joins up with Colonel Stars and Stripes – none of the narrative pieces from Dave/Kick-Ass fully realise just how widespread their cause had become.
What makes up for this is the brutality of their encounters being finely choreographed. The first big hit Colonel Stars and Stripes takes the team on is amazing and Carrey’s delivery of Eisenhower’s most lethal command is effective and puts the right kind of pause on the action. The scene contrasts sickeningly well with the later suburban carnage that Mother Russia meets out in large, generous scoops as one of the film’s main villains.
Mindy’s subplot of adjusting to everyday, normal, teenage life is one of the films most endearing qualities. The sojourns into her increasing attempts to achieve normality are bitter and sweet at the same time. She also offers one of the most easy characters to identify with in the film as she suffers at the hands of high school cliques.
Apart from still being superbly brilliant in any fight, it’s definitely Hit-Girl’s moments as Mindy in the film that provide the most dramatic balance. Her everyday scenes stops Kick-Ass 2 from being one fight scene followed by another.
Paul Blewitt’s thoughts
If you enjoyed the first film, then this is certainly essential viewing. My own father watched the first film the same week as seeing the second one with us and he found it to be an equal blast. But if you haven’t seen the first film, then there’s not much point in watching Kick-Ass 2.
Kick-Ass 2 is out now in the UK and US. We bought our own tickets.