Kick-Ass was a great hyper-violent superhero satire directed by Matthew Vaughn back in 2010, a few years later nearly everyone returns for the sequel minus the director. I was a big fan of the original Kick-Ass and had high hopes for the sequel following some fun looking trailers and the addition of Jim Carrey to the cast, despite his public disapproval of the film’s violence a couple months ago. The original had a nice commentary about some of the realities of real-life superheroes contrasted with some balls to the wall stylish action scenes involving an 11 year old girl and a not insignificant amount of blood. The sequel tries to bring back what worked in the original, but only hits its mark about half of the time. It’s still a good movie and it’s great to see Hit Girl back to kick some ass, but it just never reaches the original in terms of flair, humor, or message, and when it comes close it feels more like a rehash of the original rather than a return. There are a few possible surprises in this movie which I will mention so here’s your obligatory spoiler warning if you haven’t seen the movie yet.
The first Kick-Ass was ostensibly about the rise of the first superhero, but the sequel isn’t entirely sure what it’s really all about. There’s the rise of the first supervillain as well as the first supergroup. There’s also plenty of talk about retiring the concept of the superhero, but it never really settles on a message and has a hard time juggling the three main characters effectively. There’s a frequent jump between Chris D’Amico who is struggling with his parents’ deaths and uses that to become the first supervillain, the Motherfucker, Mindy McReady who is struggling with her desire to fit into high school life at the behest of her adopted father when she really wants to be Hit Girl like she has been trained all her life to be, and Dave Lizewski who is struggling with boredom and the desire to fit in or something like that. Dave’s motivation is the weakest of the three which is kind of odd considering that he’s the title character.
While I’ve gone on about some of the weaker points of the film, I did enjoy it overall. I liked a lot of the moments with Chris D’Amico coming up with really bad supervillain names, and was quite surprised with newcomer John Leguizamo as his… I’m not actually sure what to call him, mob contact, consigliere, pseudo-father figure, whatever. Mother Russia is also a stand out character as she is really the only one that gets any action scenes, and the her introductory one is really the best scene in the movie with the best comic book action, nothing else really lives up to the over the top violence that was scattered throughout the first movie. I also enjoyed Hit Girl’s performance, mostly when she was actually being Hit Girl rather than trying to be Mindy McReady. The mean girls sideplot felt tacked on and irrelevant to the rest of the movie, and while I enjoyed her moments of puberty for lack of a better term, as well as her eventual revenge, the execution of the latter felt a little too Saturday Night Live, and I mean that in a bad way.
Another of the best parts of the film were the moments with Jim Carrey’s Colonel Stars and Stripes, while he doesn’t have as much screen time as I would have liked, what he does have is very memorable. The entire squad of Justice Forever were pretty enjoyable with the exception of Night Bitch. It felt like she was just filling in the role that Katie played in the first movie, she was completely uninteresting and had absolutely no development. She just had a silly and crass name with no reason for it, a revealing outfit, and felt like she existed only to have sex with Dave and be beaten and almost raped by the Motherfucker. I haven’t followed the controversy too much surrounding that part of it, but I do think that the way they ended up handling it was vaguely funny. The real shame is that she wasn’t a fully fleshed out character in the first place. The much better relationship was between Dave and Mindy, it’s a very complex one where Dave initially trains under her and gets his ass handed to him repeatedly, and eventually becomes somewhat of a father figure to her, or at least an older brother figure. And Mindy not surprisingly develops more romantic feelings for him and finally acts upon them at the end of the movie even though I get the impression that the feeling are almost entirely one-way. I also liked the brief moments with Dave and his father, and how that relationship develops over the course of the latter half of the movie, even though how it ends up is fairly predictable, I think it works nonetheless.
The final moment where I really felt let down in this movie was the climax which ends up being a giant group of wannabe supervillains fighting a giant group of wannabe superheroes. Hit Girl faces off against Mother Russia, and just like in the first movie against Frank D’Amico, she’s in over her head and gets defeated, the only difference is this time she saves herself rather than getting saved by Kick-Ass. And at the same time, once again Kick-Ass and Chris D’Amico are facing off, although this time they are both much better at fighting, which is odd because while Chris makes a play at wanting to train, he ends up giving up so it should be very one sided in Kick-Ass’s favor. There’s also absolutely zero casualties from the minor characters which is completely ridiculous because the majority of the villains should have firearms at their disposal while the heroes have none, yet I don’t even think there was a single shot fired in that brawl. There were plenty of good ideas here in the sequel, but I think only a few of them connected in the way that they should have, and the rest of it felt too much like a lesser rehash of the first movie with different characters, it’s still worth a watch, but it’s not a must-see. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.