I was surprised by the 2010 hit Kick-Ass, as it combined both brutal superhero battles with a touch of real human emotion and reactions to these crazy situations. Nicholas Cage was the highlight of the film for me and he isn’t appearing in the new sequel, so will it still have that human element? Will the addition of Jim Carrey help to carry the film?
After the events of Kick-Ass, the world is ready for heroes. There are costumed crime fighters all over town, all because of Kick-Ass’ bravery. Dave, though, has taken off the costume and is trying to be a normal kid, while Mindy (aka Hit-Girl) ditches class everyday to train and fight crime. Things seem normal.
That is… until Chris D’Amico (Red Mist) goes through a tragic ordeal that unlocks his potential as a supervillain. As he starts to gather an army of psychopaths and murderers, Dave realizes he must team up with other costumed heroes to even stand a chance. This ragtag group is led by Colonel Stars and Stripes, played by Jim Carrey.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Dave/Kick-Ass is fine in the lead role and Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl is best when she’s suited up, but the show really belongs to Christopher Mintz-Plasse. It’s his transformation into the supervillain The Motherf*cker that really is astounding. His villain is relateable from the beginning and you can see how the gradual slide into evil can happen. It’s hard to imagine that this is the same guy who played McLovin. He’s terrifying and his ensemble of thugs only accents his psychosis. Also my favorite scene in this movie is between Mintz-Plasse and Iain Glen (Jorah from Game of Thrones). The scene still gives me goosebumps.
The other standout here is Jim Carrey. He stars as the psychotic Colonel Stars and Stripes, like Captain America on steroids. Not only did they change Carrey’s appearance, giving him broader features such as a larger chin and deeper brows, but Carrey’s demeanor is also incredibly different. One might even overlook that it was Carrey at all. This movie, combined with the year’s earlier outing The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (review here), proves that Carrey’s range is only getting wider. There is some controversy as Carrey now regrets filming Kick-Ass 2 and has come out and told people not to go see it, as it promotes extreme violence. After the Newtown tragedy, he believed this movie would only glorify such behavior.
In terms of action, this movie doesn’t disappoint. Plenty of it and it’s just as visceral as the first film. The final climax and showdown between good guys and bad guys is amazing.
What doesn’t work?
In terms of story, the movie just doesn’t have the same sort of arc that Kick-Ass had. Where the movie starts is essentially where the movie ends as well. Our hero Kick-Ass goes through a lot but maybe it’s Taylor-Johnson that can’t really convey this depth. At the emotional apex of the film for him, his reaction comes off as overacting and not the punch in the gut that it should have been. Sequels are naturally hard to pull off and I feel like this one didn’t retain the human aspect as well as the first. It focused more on these extreme situations and characters that were borderline unrealistic, as opposed to the more grounded nature of the first film.
And then we have Hit-Girl’s story. Mindy is a fighter but throughout the movie, she tries to fit into the high school scene. This story was kind of a drag to the pacing of the story and it’s climax was immature and reminded me more of a gross sketch on SNL than a high-budget action film. I know what they were trying to do but ultimately, it fell short.
Most of you though, don’t care about that. You want action. Yes, there are some cool fight scenes, but I left the theater thinking that there was less action this time around and the effects were weaker, especially a freeway fight where Hit-Girl attacks a van full of thugs. The effects were horrible in that scene, obvious that it was a green-screen. Carrey steals the show in the action scenes that he’s a part of but he ultimately gets less screen-time than I was expecting and it was somewhat of a wasted opportunity.
The original Kick-Ass was an interesting look at how superheroes might really exist in our world. It was grounded in reality, with characters we could empathize with. In this second outing, our scenarios become less grounded and more extravagant, making for more of an action film and less of a character study. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz were fine in the lead roles, but Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Jim Carrey steal every scene they’re in. This is a fun and exciting movie but lacks some of the heart of the original, as well as lacking some of the visual polish. Worth seeing but don’t expect to be blown away.