Netflix UK film review: Kick-Ass 2
Ivan Radford | On 09, Dec 2013
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey
Watch Kick-Ass 2 online in the UK: Netflix UK / TalkTalk TV / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
It’s one of the comic book movie genre’s biggest failings that there are no female superheroes. Kick-Ass, then, surprised everyone when it turned out that an 11 year old girl saying the c-word in a purple wig might be just that. Three years later and, sure enough, Hit-Girl finally gets a starring role in a follow-up movie. The problem? It’s called Kick-Ass 2.
Dave Lizewski (Taylor-Johnson), continuing to balance high school with his green-spandexed alter-ego, is ostensibly the main character here – but he barely features in his own film. His girlfriend? Forgotten. His motivations? Sidelined. Even his best friend has to become a hero as well to stay relevant to the plot.
That’s the main priority for director Jeff Wadlow: introducing more superheroes to face off against more supervillains – a gang of assorted heavies led by Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s vengeful teen, who christens himself The MotherFucker. Jim Carrey joins the goodies as Colonel Stars and Stripes, a mob enforcer turned born-again vigilante, but despite the hoo-ha raised by the actor over his involvement in such a violent film, he barely makes a mark.
The only one who does? Mindy McCready (Moretz). Trying to fit in, Chloe’s sympathetic killing machine has the most interesting character journey. Like the film itself, she struggles to recover from Big Daddy’s absence, coming back down to earth with a bump after Kick-Ass’ gloriously depraved finale.
While Ladlow does well to keep highlighting the absurd juxtaposition of superheroes and the super-ordinary, the trouble is he wants to have his comic book cake and eat it: by trying to make things bigger too, Kick-Ass 2 falls into the traps of a standard sequel rather than continuing the original’s original vibe.
“This is Night Bitch,” says the Colonel to Dave at one secret meeting. The costumed sidekick explains that she put on a mask in response to her parents being killed. Everyone looks serious. The script jumps between these people and plot strands without any coherence, often resorting to reliving Kick-Ass’ set pieces beat for beat – one punch-up is even accompanied by a punk cover of When The Saints Come Marching In. The action itself remains enjoyable enough but dodgy CGI only adds to the uneven tone, which veers from ill-advised attempts at romance to an even more ill-advised joke about rape.
As for Mindy, she gets the emotional arc she deserves but becomes buried among the fray of new faces. Shackled to a sub-Mean Girls plot, in one scene Hit-Girl finds herself at a slumber party with the school’s popular clique. They all start drooling over a music video for a boy band called Union J. A wry poke at modern society? Nope. It’s product placement.
That’s the level this franchise has reached: in 2010, Kick-Ass subverted tropes with its deliberately mundane back-story and a strong dose of reality checks. Kick-Ass 2, on the other hand, feels like what the first film was satirising – just with more swearing. The laughs have gone, as has the unexpected madness. It’s a disappointing case of an unconventional hero getting his ass kicked by convention.
Kick-Ass 2 is graphic, yes, but no longer novel. If only they had the balls to call the film Hit-Girl instead.
Kick-Ass 2 is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.