As an avid admirer of the first Kick-Ass film, I went into its sequel with a mixture of excitement and trepidation ... and came out feeling a combination of satisfaction and disappointment. `
Kick-Ass 2 contains much to enjoy and yet, when compared with its predecessor, it is impossible not to reminisce.
That it suffers from not having Matthew Vaughn in the director’s chair is an understatement. Kick-Ass 2 has little of the first film’s energy, and not a single set piece that rivals even the weakest one from the first instalment.
Where Vaughn’s film oozed confidence and style, Jeff Wadlow’s follow-up is enjoyable rather than thrilling. It is perfectly okay – a solid three-star movie – but given the fact the 2010 original was a five-star experience, it is quite a comedown.
Picking up three years after the first film ended, Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Kick-Ass and Chloe Grace Moretz’s Hit-Girl are doing their best to live normal lives, one more reluctantly than the other.
Keen to continue the work of her dead father, Hit-Girl’s journey is the most interesting one – just as it was in the original. And as she temporarily puts down her nunchucks in favour of a Mean Girls-esque sub-plot, you can’t help but wonder what might have been had Moretz been given a film of her own.
This brief soiree into high school (dark) comedy also contains the film’s biggest missteps – a baffling cameo from the X-Factor’s Union J and a projectile vomit joke – both of which belong in a very different movie. But those few minutes aside, Moretz’s storyline remains the most interesting, and her character the most captivating.
As far as the new characters are concerned, Jim Carrey’s extended cameo as Colonel Stars and Stripes is both enjoyable and frustrating.
In a film bogged down with new faces, Carrey’s is the one truly interesting turn. And yet instead of building at least part of the movie around him – as Vaughn did with Nicholas Cage’s Big Daddy – the Colonel gets lost in the mediocrity of his fellow heroes.
While the first movie focused on a few characters and made them all the more interesting for it, Wadlow’s film turns an old mantra on its head and proves that more is less. Of course, much is down to the source material – Mark Millar’s graphic novels – but there is a great film here, lost in the shaky hands of a man not confident enough to see it through.
As a story of everyday men and women saving the world, or at least their world, Kick-Ass 2 is an enjoyable way to spend an evening. Its jokes hit more often than not, it is brave enough to say and show what others won’t, and I wasn’t bored for a second of its duration.
Much has been written about the graphic violence and language, but it is tame compared to its source material. And for all the moral indignation, this is a hyper-real interpretation of a popular genre.
There were times when it reminded me of the 1999 film Mystery Men. And yet the first film reminded me of nothing, because I had never seen anything like it. That says it all really.
If you are looking for breathtaking originality, stick to the first instalment. But if you want to see a 16-year-old actress carry a film with the confidence of a veteran, its follow-up is the perfect example.