Kick-Ass 2 is only somewhat Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass 2 is not as kick-ass as Kick-Ass but it is somewhat kick-ass too. Now that I have obviously dazzled you with my superior wordplay, here’s a fact: If you replace Matthew Vaughn, the director of epic films like X-Men: First Class, Layer Cake and Stardust (who is also the producer of Snatch and Lock, Stock Two Smoking Barrels, by the way) with Jeff Wadlow, the director of Never Back Down and ‘Cry_Wolf’ (I have never heard of this film before but yes, it does have an underscore in its title), things are not going to be the same. And they clearly aren’t.
Kick-ass 2 is not as funny, as smart, as original, as cool, as quirky, as shocking, as violent or simply as good as the original film. But if you view it as an independent movie, it is still an enjoyable enough romp, and for one reason only: Chloe Grace Moretz.
At 16, Moretz has had a career of ten years already with directors like Martin Scorsese, Tim Burton, Kimberley Pierce, Marc Webb and Matthew Vaughn, and more often than not, she is the best thing about the movies she stars in. In the first movie, Kick-Ass, her character of Hit Girl, a foul-mouthed 11-year-old supergirl, caused a lot of controversy, but also made most fanboys over the world count the days until she turns 18, so they could legally have a crush on her. Because that’s how awesome she is.
And she steals the show in Kick-Ass 2 again and it is only the weight of her awesomeness that carries the film through. She is undoubtedly the spunkiest superhero that’s ever been conceived, and possibly the best female superhero that’s ever made it to the big screen (though Chris O’Donnell as Robin came really close in Batman & Robin).
But wherever Moretz is absent in the film, there is a gaping void. Jim Carrey is phenomenal as Colonel Stars and Stripes but his role is a glorified cameo, and had he been given a central role, this may well have been the turning point in his declining career, and would certainly have made this film far better.
Though the rest of the eclectic cast has some fantastic actors, right from Donald Faison (Turk from Scrubs) to Steven Mackintosh (British TV’s go-to character actor) to Clark Duke (Greek), their characters are given with very little to do. I’d have *loved* to see the origin story of Dr Gravity (Faison) or how Night Bitch (Lindy Booth) transformed into a vigilante, but instead the focus is on the internal strife of Hit Girl. The problem is that the premise of the strife is absolutely ridiculous and there are points at which you feel like you’re watching a Zac Efron-starrer high school movie (not that I’d know anything about how that looks, *ahem*).
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the titular character is likeable enough but just doesn’t match up to his own performance in the first movie. Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s ‘The Motherf**ker’ is supposed to be the mockery of a supervillain, but he makes a mockery of himself. And the absence of the actors of the calibre of Nicholas Cage (He is awesome, and you know it) and Mark Strong is acutely felt.
The biggest problem though is that the stakes in this film are just far too low for anyone to really care. The supervillain in this doesn’t take over the world, or annihilate the human race, or destroy our civilization, or even blow up some buildings in the city: he just wants to kill Kick-Ass. And since Kick-Ass himself isn’t much of a superhero who could save the world at some time in the future, it’s all quite pointless, isn’t it?
Having said that, think of this as B-superhero movie or a R-rated high school flick, and you’ll definitely have fun. But if you want to watch a genre-bending, outstanding superhero film set in high school, then watch the original Kick-Ass and pray that Hit-Girl gets her own franchise soon.
Note: This review first appeared on Firstpost.com on August 26, 2013
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