Kick Ass 2 has been reviewing terribly on Rotten Tomatoes; good thing I don’t give a damn about other people’s opinions. The strength of the first movie and the prospect of Chloe Moretz flashily killing bad guys was enough to get me into the theatre, and I enjoyed this sequel. I like its blend of exaggerated (well-choreographed) violence and blunt humour, and movie is so fun that the flaws fade away.
Kick Ass 2 is condensed from the continuation of the comic series and roughly follows the storyline laid out there (though there are three scenes that were toned down for the movie). The story is an adequate frame for the jokes and action scenes, but the superhero satire of the first movie/comic is lacking, and the “am I a superhero or not” theme is unsteadily handled. I have to wonder how much of that is due to following the comic’s story.
Kick Ass and his friends and family suffer much reduced screen time, and he spends much of the movie being lame, begging Hit Girl to help him, and getting other people into trouble. It’s not a great continuation from the arc he was supposed to have travelled in the original movie. And while Kick Ass does get a number of plot points, they’re executed more weakly and less related to the theme of the movie.
The faux superhero Red Mist has transformed himself into the supervillain “The Motherfucker”, via a whiny Goth-y phase during which he wears too much eyeliner and complains to his mother. Christopher Mintz-Plasse nails the malicious, foul-mouthed, spoiled brat, and while this gives rise to lots of laughs (giving up on learning MMA, he yells “My superpower is that I’m fucking rich!”), like Kick Ass himself, this character has taken a disappointing step down since the first movie. In Kick Ass 1, the villains were scary because they were real criminals juxtaposed with the costumed antics of the protagonist; in the sequel they’re much less imposing, as they too cavort around in strange clothing. (There’s a scene with his uncle that demonstrates what a truly scary individual is like.) While the (poorly-named, as one of the characters tries to point out) Motherfucker is a weak individual, he’s a nasty one, and three particularly icky scenes (kid-killing, rape, and a head transplant) were cut or turned into some pretty funny jokes.
Jim Carrey’s role is smaller than I expected, as “Colonel Stars and Stripes” a character merged from two comic-book characters (Colonel Stars and Lieutenant Stripes), but he pulls off the role really well.
Of course, the star of the show is Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl, less an adorable little kid now, but just as potty-mouthed and violent. She has the main character arc, going to school, trying to live a normal life, discovering her sexuality via a tween boy band video clip, reenacting Mean Girls, and making me wonder if seeing the upcoming Carrie would just be a retread. Moretz is especially charismatic in this role, and while I think she indicates a bit too much, she puts a lot of effort into fleeting expressions and minor gestures that really sell the character.
Despite the Motherfucker being a laughingstock, the good guys are beaten and killed enough to give you a sense of unease as to what will happen next. The hench-wench Mother Russia, played by the gigantic bodybuilder Olga Kurkulina gets a number of over-the-top action scenes to herself, and is good opposition for the kill-everyone force-of-nature that is Hit Girl. Paul Greengrass is nowhere to be seen – the action scenes are well-shot: you can see everything that happens and don’t get motion-sickness. In addition to the foul-mouthed humour, the film has a gory humour too, that has the bad guys die in extra-gruesome ways – (super-minor spoiler) a flunkie doesn’t just get shot, he gets shot and then run over by a car.
Kick Ass 2 is more an action movie than the blend of action and satire that was the first film (in which the protagonist criticised onlookers who preferred to watch someone get beaten up than do anything about it); many of the characters have become lamer in the interim, and there is less human drama. However, it excels as a darkly comic action movie with a very cool sort-of main character.