The Kick-Ass franchise has always been more captivating in the pages of a comic book rather than on the big screen. This is especially evident when watching Kick-Ass 2, the sequel to the moderately successful 2010 film. The film, much like the comic which inspired it, serves no real purpose besides hoping to extract a few extra dollars from devoted fans. However, unlike the book, the film is not willing to get as dark as it hints at being. This is partly due to its desire to appeal to a broader audience. As a result Kick-Ass 2 feels impotent in every possible way.
The film wants to be both a raunchy comedy and a violent superhero action film, yet fails at both. Similar to its predecessor, Kick-Ass 2 tries to separate itself from typical superhero conventions only to do everything it satirizes. The joke wears thin much quicker this time around though.
Kick-Ass 2 finds our heroes Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) semi-retired from their life as tights wearing crime fighters. Their decisions are motivated by different reasons. For Kick-Ass, he realized how close to death he came in the events from the previous film and is looking to live a quieter life. Hit-Girl, on the other hand, has been forced to hang up her vigilante ways due to a promise she made to her legal guardian Detective Marcus Williams (Morris Chestnut).
Hit-Girl struggles with adapting to normal teenage life, including dealing with the superficial clique of “mean girls”. Yet she is determined to stay true to her word. Kick-Ass finds ordinary life dull and desires to be amongst the superheroes he helped to inspire. After scouring the Internet, he comes across a team of wannabe superheroes led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). As Kick-Ass begins to feel at home with his new set of friends, one of his old rivals is plotting to bring him down once and for all. Seeking revenge for the death of his father, Chris D’Amico, formerly the Red Menace now known as “The Motherfucker,” assembles a team of ruthless killers to take down any costume wearing individual trying to do good.
While it can be argued that Jeff Wadlow’s film is merely delivering more of the same tropes as the original Kick-Ass, something is definitely missing here. The sense of fun and overall cohesiveness is gone this time around. The film wants to revel in violence on minute and then evoke sympathy from said violence the next. Also, if you are going to try and make light of a situation involving a possible rape, the joke better hit the mark or do not even attempt it all.
This inevitably brings us to the core of what is wrong with Kick-Ass 2…it feels like a half-hearted attempt. Everything from the overall message to the action sequences feel lazy. While Mark Millar’s source material at least felt committed to the dark humour and violence it was conveying, the film version lacks any sort of balls whatsoever.
The only real bright spot in Kick-Ass 2 is the work of Jim Carrey as he nails the character of Colonel Stars and Stripes perfectly. Of all the liberties the films takes, I wish it had added even more Carrey and less Mintz-Plasse. While I usually enjoy Mintz-Plasse’s work, his character this time around is too annoying and shrill. Not one of his seemingly endless quips manages to even register a smirk. He serves as one of many reminders why Kick-Ass 2 is better in comic form and utterly forgettable on the big screen.