Kick Ass 2 - Cinema Review

One scene in Kick-Ass 2 begins during a funeral. Several characters from the film are there, showing various levels of emotion at the dead character’s passing. The audience on the other hand will likely feel only a fraction of their sorrow due to the limited opportunity the film has afforded us to develop an attachment with the deceased. The sort-of-sadness soon passes whether you want it to or not, as moments later the scene jolts into a monumentally overblown machine gun fight. This short sequence sums up quite aptly the issues within Kick-Ass 2 that hold it back from achieving the same success as the first film.

Character development outside of Dave Lizewski/Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Mindy Macready/Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) is pretty much non-existent. New superhero team on the block Justice Forever are largely one-dimensional; even Jim Carrey’s character Captain Stars And Stripes - plastered all over Kick-Ass 2’s promotional material - ends up as disappointingly underdeveloped. The same can be said for the bad guys, with a high number of new characters introduced but all ending up as either one-note jokes and references or merely forgettable. Even Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) lacks the moral ambiguity he had in the first film, making the actor’s admittedly entertaining performance as new alias The Motherfucker feel as though he’s largely just treading water until the film’s climax.

The problem is exacerbated by the franchise’s unavoidable loss of Nicolas Cage and Mark Strong after their characters’ respective demises during the first installment. Kick-Ass 2 never manages to fill the void left by either caped crimefighter Big Daddy or mob kingpin Frank D’Amico, not only making the sequel feel lacking in focus but also serving to remind you just how solid the performances from Cage and Strong were in the original.

Tonally, the film also jars too often between really quite serious and ludicrously over-the-top. Many of the more emotional elements fail to genuinely hit home - a symptom of the lack of character development - but are nonetheless crafted well. The extreme action is also handled pleasingly well, although director Jeff Wadlow never reaches the sublime heights of the original film’s pièce de résistance finale. The problems come from Wadlow’s decision several times throughout to switch without warning between the extremes, which at times makes Kick-Ass 2 a more uncomfortable, less effortlessly enjoyable watch than its predecessor.

Despite these issues, there are elements here which are much more successful. Taylor-Johnson’s performance in the title role is once again strong, although the actor is forced to wait until the final act till he can really shine and move his character forward. The true star here however is Moretz, to the point that the film might more accurately be named after Hit-Girl than after Taylor-Johnson’s eponymous superhero. Moretz is an actress who impresses more and more with each new film she makes, and Kick-Ass 2 is no exception. The way in which Moretz takes the character of Hit-Girl, in many ways a supporting player as Big Daddy’s sidekick in the first film, and develops her into the most complex and enigmatic presence here by far, both as her vigilante persona and as Mindy Macready, is truly outstanding and a joy to watch.

Moretz’s portrayal of Hit-Girl/Mindy is far and away the best reason for the Kick-Ass franchise to continue beyond this installment. If there is indeed a third film in the works, it will give the creative minds behind it a chance to hopefully elevate the series back to the heights of the first film that sadly Kick-Ass 2, whilst entertaining, almost entirely fails to achieve.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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