Just like many of its limp characters, Kick Ass 2 is rather unconvincingly disguised. Masking itself as a slick and kooky alternative-superhero movie, Kick Ass 2‘s masquerade wears thin after the first thirty minutes. The comedy in the script is particularly disappointing, as are the flat and boring characters. Matthew Vaughn’s absence from the director’s chair is blatant. I mourned Vaughn as the director and co-writer of this franchise more and more as this deflated sequel unfolded. Kick-Ass was a shocking and refreshing film when it hit cinemas in 2010. Taking the comic book format and combining it with realistic characters and quirky humour made Kick-Ass one of the most rejuvenated pieces of cult cinema in recent years. Now, three years on, the sequel seems to have forgotten everything that made the first film so unique; great characters and an energetic and exciting story. Where the violence of Kick-Ass was brave and impacting, the violence depicted in Kick Ass 2 is exasperatingly over the top, unnecessary and altogether irresponsible. I was frequently reminded of Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun, and one particular scene, (in which a score of policemen are stabbed, shot and decapitated), was uncomfortably reminiscent of this exploitative action film. Exploitative, nasty and dull seem to be the best adjectives I can come up with to summarise Kick-Ass 2.
With so many gory scenes – along with several ‘gross-out’ inspired segments, that you would expect from the likes of American Pie 23 – it is astonishing how boring and uninteresting Kick-Ass 2 really is. The truth is that no amount of violence, action and toilet humour can mask the sluggish narrative and the tedious characters. The film even goes as far as to make a joke out of attempted rape, in order to gain some cheap laughs from an unbelievably humour-less and tiresome villain. The film made an interesting choice to focus upon the character of Mindy Macready who is battling with the tough decision to leave her superhero persona, Hit-Girl, in her past. This would have been a more amusing story if the writers hadn’t gotten wrapped up in writing what appears to be a reboot of Mean Girls. Hit-Girl has been discussed in reviews and interviews as a strong modern cult female character but all elements of her feminism are lost when the writers put her through the make-over sequences and the high-school politics that I simply can’t believe Hit-Girl would be phased by. The character that was formed in the first instalment certainly wouldn’t bat an eyelid at the prospect of being labelled a loser by the high school prom queen.
Kick-Ass 2 is, ultimately, very confused. Jim Carrey isn’t used to full advantage but this could of course be down to his recent, personal choice to condemn the film for its glorification of violence. The story is a cliché of both the superhero genre and its own predecessor. Kick-Ass 2 tries too hard to think outside of the box and surprise its audience which ultimately leads to it being unconvincing and predictable. It is hard to care about any of the characters, even Dave Lizewski who we loved so much as our flawed hero ‘Kick-Ass’ now become annoying and limp. Hit-Girl is the most interesting thing about the film but her storyline lets the character down. The film is missing a powerful and threatening villain that was provided so well by Mark Strong in Matthew Vaughn’s original beloved movie. I desperately wanted the sequel to be strong, but a few slick action sequences aren’t enough to get the audience through one hundred minutes of pathetic plot and transparent characters. The comedy is the biggest disappointed here. Upping the violence was a foolish move that is worsened by the lack of any intelligence and subtly that made Kick-Ass so unusual and charming. Let’s stay optimistic – perhaps the entire film is an ironic statement from Vaughn about how weak superhero sequels often are; good grief, I hope so.
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