Based on the Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. comic of the same name, this sequel goes to some dark places.
The original Kick-Ass had a unique development history, with the film rights sold off before the first issue had even been published. Parallel processes worked to bring the eight-chapter comic book and more traditionally structured film to fruition, with co-writer/director Matthew Vaughn remaining fairly faithful to its graphic source. Perhaps better known to the film-going world as “that one where the little girl drops a C-bomb”, it made stars out of Aaron Taylor Johnson and Chloë Grace Moretz. The parallels continued in the successful comic continuation, as two sequels and a spin-off have hit the shelves to date.
Kick-Ass 2 gets a change of director in Jeff Wadlow, who also adapts the screenplay from Mark Millar’s original comic series, and with him comes a change in tone. Some time has passed since the events of the first film, and Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor Johnson) is keen to take his superhero duties to the next level. With Kick-Ass inspiring people across the city to suit up and be their own heroes, Mindy Macready (Chloë Grace Moretz) decides to retire from being Hit-Girl at the behest of her adoptive father. However, as Chris D’Amico/the former Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) vows revenge for his father’s death, a war brews between Kick-Ass’s Justice Forever group and the henchmen of the rechristened The Motherfucker.
Fans of the comic will be pleased to know that with a few exceptions, this film pulls few punches in the pursuit of authenticity. Kick-Ass 2 is a much darker film than its predecessor, dissecting (sometimes quite literally) the consequences of real world violence. It’s bloody and messy, spilling virtually every bodily fluid in the pursuit of shocks and sight gags, but it is also grounded in something far more tangible than the stylised violence of a Quentin Tarantino or Michael Bay film. “Try to have fun,” quips Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). “Otherwise, what’s the point?” Despite the actor’s off-screen protestations that the film might promote violence, the film is so over the top, it’s more likely to promote some chuckles.
Jim Carrey is actually one of the best things about Kick-Ass 2, bringing a controlled chaos to the madness that is swirling around him. His occasional ad-libs bring something fresh to the table, and Lindy Booth as Night Bitch is a wonderful find. Returning cast members have settled into their roles nicely, and the slightly older Moretz is so much more than a potty-mouthed teenager. Indeed, all of the characters are fully rounded.
Kick-Ass 2 is, in many ways, superior to its comic book origins. Where the story felt inconsistently stretched over its original mini-series, Wadlow condenses the best bits down to bring it to visceral life. Filled with some impressive set-pieces, including an amazing final battle between Hit-Girl and the brick-house that is Mother Russia, it’s a fun ride. Leaving the door wide open for spin-offs and sequels, it will be interesting to see where the franchise goes from here.
Kick-Ass 2 is released in Australian cinemas on 22 August 2013 from Universal.