Three years ago Kick Ass, garnered positive reviews, established a likeable cast, and perfectly set itself up for an anticipated sequel. So, as both a critic and diehard movie fan, it’s mind boggling to walk out of a theater and wonder how the filmmakers could have messed up this sequel so bad. This weekend new audiences and fans of the original film might be asking themselves that exact same question.
Kick Ass 2 picks up very close to where the first film left off. Kick Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) have inspired a new wave of crime fighters including Col. Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey) and Dr. Gravity (Donald Faison) who, with good intentions, are out to clean up the streets. On the flip side, following the gruesome death of his father, and with help from his new assistant, Javier (John Leguizamo), Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Red Mist has now set out to become the world’s first Super Villain known as The Motherfucker. Parents please be aware, this is not a kid’s movie.
The problem, of course, with being a superhero is that it’s hard to go back to an everyday normal life. So for most of the film, Hit Girl and Kick Ass seem to be involved in a moral dilemma where they know who they are, but are trying to accept parental guidelines on how to lead a non-crime fighting life. Alas, being a teenage superhero is tough. There are a few subplots involving what can only be described as the rejected cast of Mean Girls, and Superhero wannabe’s who don’t quite have what it takes, but it’s such an overplayed thread that it’s hardly worth delving into.
For the most part, this sequel is about dealing with the consequences of revenge. Cue the ragtag band of misfit villains with racially hilarious names, like Mother Russia, Genghis Carnage and the Tumor.
The problems with Kick Ass 2 are so numerous that if we were to list them all, this would turn into a short story instead of a review. So to keep it short and sweet, here is what audiences should be aware of. A sequel to any film – especially one based of a comic book – that has both Jim Carrey and John Leguizamo in the cast can almost be described in comedic terms as “a sure thing”. In fact, all a director should have to do is show up and turn the camera on. However, both Carrey and Leguizamo are underused in what could have been noteworthy comedic performances, and the film suffers because of it.
Speaking of directors, it’s unclear why producer and original director Matthew Vaughn didn’t sign up to retake the reins. Sadly his replacement, writer/director Jeff Wadlow (Never Back Down, Cry Wolf) just doesn’t have the chops to pull this off. This is clearly evident as soon as the close ups start. The script and dialogue are lazy, the action feels hackneyed, and the emotional scenes really have no punch.
Most importantly though, and this is key, we seem to be missing a lot of the same fun we had in 2010’s Kick Ass. Sure, this is a film based on a comic book that dishes out violence like it’s going out of style. And yes, this being a summer popcorn movie, the bar for intellectual stimulation shouldn’t be set that high. But for a film that relies heavily on gunfights, skull bashing, and trash talking, to quote one of the film’s characters “If you’re not having any fun, what’s the point?”