Title: Kick-Ass 2
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Morris Chestnut, John Leguizamo, Jim Carrey, Clark Duke, Donald Faison, Angustus Prew, Lindy Booth, Olga Kurkulina
Plot: Dave (Taylor-Johnson) having retired from fighting crime as his superhero alter-ego Kick-Ass, starts training with Mindy (Moretz) aka Hit-Girl to become a proper hero despite also being forced into retirement by her guardian Marcus (Chestnut). Elsewhere the former Red Mist Chris D’Amico (Mintz-Plasse) still wanting revenge on Kick-Ass reinvents himself as supervillian “The Motherfucker”
Review: Back in 2010 when the original “Kick-Ass” was unleashed on the unsuspecting movie going public, it finally brought a much needed fresh spin to the superhero genre which had pretty much grown stale thanks to a stream of less than stellar adaptations, while Marvel had only taken the most tentative of steps in establishing their all dominating cinematic universe. Like the source material though, here was a film which did for comic book movies what “Scream” did for the horror genre, as it shook things up while playing off the long established conventions as it applied them to a real world setting, only without the dark edge of Alan Moore’s legendry “Watchmen”.
Unsurprisingly “Kick-Ass” was followed by a host of imitators such as “Defendor” and the wonderfully bizarre “Super” but ultimately “Kick-Ass” was the only one which left me wanting to see what happened next. Which was especially the case after the first was so much fun, with its intoxicating mix of warped humour and over the top violence which perfectly captured the tone of the source material. The fact that it stuck so close to the material really made me wonder how this sequel would play out more so when the source material for the sequel really doesn’t pull any punches as Mark Millar’s book not only ramped up the violence, but also contained numerous controversial scenes including children being machine gunned and one character being gang raped by The Motherfucker and his crew.
This controversy was only added to by Jim Carrey suddenly withdrawing his support for the film in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting stating
“I did Kick-Ass a month before Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence. My apologies to others involved with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart.”
Of course this proved to be better promotion for the film than if he had done a dozen press junkets, especially as the prospect of controversial violence had fans clamouring to see what the film had in store for them, especially those who’d read the book whose curiosity was sent into overdrive as they wondered if director Wadlow was going to truly give us a no holds barred adaptation. The answer of course is….no.
Unsurprisingly while there are numerous things you can do in fiction and comic books (just look at the antics of Clive Barker and Alan Moore for prime examples) these same things just don’t carry across to their film adaptations and if they do they usually won’t make it past the censors shears. So it comes as little surprise to see numerous elements being toned down or played in a more humorous light as especially seen with the gang rape sequence which has now been replaced with a impotence jab which honestly was the right choice like so many of the changes between the film and the source material as here Wadlow trades the darker aspects in favour of moments of slightly warped humour.
Focusing on two main plot threads it is a delicate balancing act that Wadlow pulls off here as the film switches between Dave’s return to costume vigilantism, which now seems him now teaming up with fellow like-minded have-a-go heroes to form “Justice Forever” lead by the square jawed patriot Colonel Stars and Stripes (Carrey) while finding a new love interest a group member Night Bitch (Booth). The other main plot follows Mindy and her attempts to live a normal life now she has retired her Hit-Girl persona, which soon sees running afoul of the resident mean girls at her high school. Needless to say it is only a matter of time before Mindy cracks and finds a way to get her revenge which is spectacularly graphic to say the least.
Despite having had a run of tough guy roles in the likes of the frustratingly smug “Savages” and the more recent “Godzilla” reboot, it is nice to see him being able to tone things down again to play the weedy Dave whose sole power is pretty much from his ability to take a pounding (thanks to his damaged nerve endings) and makes his training at the hands of Mindy only all the more hilarious to watch, especially when she reminds him frequently that he’s been beaten up by a 15-year old girl while proving that she’s lost none of her acid tinged wit in the time since we last saw her.
Elsewhere Christopher Mintz-Plasse continue to surprise and really seems to have a blast playing the off the rails Motherfucker whose sole ability is being filthy rich and being able to hire his own team of misfit villains including the towering Mother Russia (Kurkulina) who make up his Toxic Mega-Cunts a reminder that Miller really didn’t expect this film to be resonating with any kind of highbrow audience that’s for sure. Mintz-Plasse’s Motherfucker is the typical idea of what a supervillian should be if you gave a teenager the free reign that Chris has, caring little for what is politically correct as he names his henchmen based on race hence we get the likes of “Black Death” and “Genghis Carnage”. Thankfully John Leguizamo’s Javier is on hand to balance out Chris’s frenzied nature, as he attempts and fails frequently to provide the voice of reason to Chris’s OTT plans of domination, which Leguizamo’s performance only further serves to remind us just how underrated he still is an actor, much like Carrey who gets to play a more subdue role as Captain Stars and Stripes, not that you could tell from the trailer which ironically choose to show the two oddball moments he allows himself.
Perhaps not as sharp as the original film, especially when it frequently relies on toilet humour than the sarcasm and wit of the original making Jane Goldman’s absence from scriptwriting duties all the more noticeable. This aside Wadlow gives us here a fun sequel and a nice setup for the proposed final part of the trilogy, which due to the film underperforming might be something we see solely in the comics.