Reviewed by Ian Forbes
Considering how much I loved Kick-Ass, one might think I’d be excited about a sequel. One would be wrong. The first movie was an expert translation of comic to screen, balancing the dark humor with bloody action in such excellent fashion I had no idea how much I’d come to think of it as a fluke for director Matthew Vaughn after seeing what he’s done to the X-Men (clearly discarding any notion of being true to those comic books).
Well, he’s still on as a producer but it’s director Jeff Wadlow of Never Back Down fame (yeah, that mixed martial arts version of The Karate Kid) that’s calling the shots behind the camera this time around for Kick-Ass 2 … and that’s not a good thing. He continues with Hollywood’s obsession with shaky cam for fight scenes and makes too many quick cuts to establish any sense of rhythm to the action. He also didn’t find a way to balance the tone of the material as well as Vaughn did.
This time around, Dave/Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has joined up with a group of not-so-super heroes called Justice Forever. They’re led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey) and feature Donald Faison as Dr. Gravity, the obligatory female lust interest (Lindy Booth) as a character named Night Bitch, Dave’s buddy Marty (Clark Duke) as Battle Guy, and a few other sad sacks. Unfortunately for them, Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is back with an entirely new super villain persona (one I won’t repeat in case young eyes are reading this), and he wants Kick-Ass’ head on a platter. Along the way, Mindy/Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) hasn’t joined up with
the Super Friends Justice Forever, is struggling with being 15, fulfilling her father’s legacy, and finding her place in the world.
While I enjoyed the brutality and inventiveness of some of the action, especially when factoring in a bunch of normal people wearing tights playing superhero, the overall experience left me feeling a little hollow. No matter who gets killed, I never felt any emotional attachment so it simply didn’t matter. Also, while it’s probably just a sign of my twisted mind, there’s just not the same excitement in watching a 15 year old girl swear like a sailor or maim and kill a bunch of people, as there was in watching the same girl do the exact same thing three years ago.
The film suffers from pacing issues, mostly due to trying to juggle so many plot lines. Nearly every major character (and a few minor ones) has some dramatic arc they have to explore and bouncing from one to the other became tedious by about the half-way mark. The first film developed the characters as the plot unfolded and there was a better-established central thread. Here there are a number of dangling elements that threaten to become important but simply fade out as quickly as they were introduced.
Then there’s the soundtrack. The first film incorporated a number of high-energy songs and smartly chosen tracks to drive the action. Nothing in this sequel has the same level of excitement or interest, and there are a number of selections simply reused from the original without any adaptation at all.
Talking with other critics afterwards, they enjoyed the proceedings far more than I did and maybe I’m just holding the franchise up to a higher standard but I don’t think so. Kick-Ass 2 isn’t a bad action film. I enjoyed it well enough, but it’s far from the spectacle that was the first Kick-Ass and it falls much more squarely into the home market territory than something that deserves your $58 to see on the big screen.
Kick-Ass 2 opens in theaters on August 16, 2013 and is rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, crude and sexual content, and brief nudity.
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