For me one of the most memorable scenes from Matthew Vaughn’s 2010 ultra-violent graphic novel adaption, Kick Ass, was the scene where Nick Cage shoots his little girl in the chest.
When Jeff Wadlow’s 2013 ultra-violent graphic novel adaption sequel, Kick Ass 2, starts with a very similar scene, I was torn between thinking ‘Uh oh, it’s already started relying on positives from the first film’ and ‘Oh look, what I nice parallel that shows the off screen evolution and relationship between the two main characters.’
Now, a quick disclaimer; I haven’t read the source material for either of these films and so didn’t know exactly what to expect story line wise. So when the rest of the film took any negative assumptions from that first scene, wrapped them in a firm headlock and decapitated them while feeding a phallic pork based snack to a masked dog, I was pleasantly surprised.
As with the last outing, the film follows Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Dave Lizewski who, after blowing up Chris D’Amico’s (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) drug boss dad with a bazooka, has hung up his wet-suit based costume for good. But as he grows bored with the everyday grind of civilian life Dave seeks out Chloë Grace Moretz’s Hit-Girl who, as well as keeping up family business of violent justice, has been thrown into the somewhat more harrowing arena that is high school.
The character Kick-Ass still suffers from his main weakness; large groups knocking him down and kicking the seven bales out of him, and Hit-Girl’s tiny frame is thrown around so much near the end you wonder why she doesn’t also have metal plates and damaged nerve endings.
That being said Kick Ass 2 does a great job after the establishing act of humanising Hit-Girl. Without saying too much it really brings a sense of realism to the flawless killing machine that we’re introduced to in the first film. As well as still (excuse the pun) kicking all kinds of ass, showcasing both the pros and the cons of being a tiny deadly crime fighter, Moretz character is really believable.
Johnson’s character quickly gets into fighting shape again with the aid of Hit-Girl’s expertise, much to the delight of his admirers, both on and off screen. I would say it was a little too swift but the film can be forgiven because I didn’t catch a specific unrealistic time span for him to learn all this, also his motives are really grounded this time round, there’s less whimsy to it all.
Standing at only 1 hour 43, which is damn short for a summer hit nowadays, the plot is much better paced than its predecessor, a metric butt-tonne happens with almost everything shaping our main characters really effectively. The characterisation in this film really is top notch, however some of the side characters seem a little 2D and some returning characters are brushed aside almost instantly, but that’s for the betterment of the film as a whole. You do really care for the core characters, especially by the end when there’s a real sense of community which is quite touching among all of the death.
The plot itself has enough turns in it that you should never feel 100% confident in what comes next, there was a scene with the main antagonist which I thought would have different repercussions, and I was a little disappointed at the lack of physical payoff, but a film shouldn’t be chastised for my own preconceptions. Best of all it doesn’t treat its audience like idiots. Any exposition is done subtly and without too much heavy weight in its combat boots.
The action scenes, as can be expected, were excellent. The superhero’s weapons were varied enough that the fights were kept fresh and exciting. The dynamic camera angles are back and the tongue in cheek ultra violence makes a full return too.
The heroes and villains themselves are varied in motive, character and best of all costumes, which are creative, funny and incredibly cool. That and the naming process of the ‘Evil league of Evil’ seen in the trailer is still brilliant.
Score wise I do miss the absolute over the top change in tone during the fight scenes, but the iconic shift in atmosphere is still present. It’s just done with a bit more finesse, there’s less knocking you around the head with jaunty tunes and more subtlety to it all. There’s a bit during one of Mother Russia’s many fantastic scenes that should have the geeks grinning to themselves.
In all I can’t really fault Kick Ass 2, and I don’t want to. It’s a great fun film; with likeable, believable characters, fantastic action scenes and some hilarious dialogue. It surpasses its predecessor by being that little bit more subtle, concise and filled to the brim with fun. It’s pacing is just right and while you’ll probably want more, you should be more than satisfied with the finale.