*Originally written January 26th, 2016*
"Balls to the Wall"
If you know me, then you'll probably know that Kick-Ass is my number one film of all-time. I really liked this sequel when it first released in 2013 (3 years ago. Jesus), but on countless rewatches I've come to accept that this really isn't that good. Don't get me wrong, I still mostly enjoy it, but my word, it is a mess. I guess this is where the whole best vs favourite thing comes into play?
After Kick-Ass's antics in the first film he has retired and dozens of other citizens have become makeshift vigilantes like he was. Bored of his mundane life he decides to come out of retirement, while at the same time Red Mist comes back for revenge re-masked as a super-villain called 'The Motherfucker' with a gang of villains he calls 'The Toxic Mega-Cunts'.
The characters are still all as likeable as they are from the first film, and they certainly provide a heart and emotional core for the sequel. The biggest problem is with the direction and the screenplay. The Kick-Ass trilogy is one of the very few comic-book series I've bothered to read and I enjoyed the second instalment, but this adaption really tones down the content. The stuff in the comic would have been far too much for a light-hearted film due to the child murder, dog decapitation and gang rape, so it was probably for the best this was all cut out. Saying that, they replaced all these brutal and violent scenes with scenes that made the villain seem like a joke and not much of a threat at all. Christopher Mintz-Plasse still does a great job and has some great comedic chops, but he just doesn't make for a lead villain. It worked in the first one as he was his father's lackey, but he really fails to step into his shoes.
Matthew Vaughn didn't return to the directors chair this time, and it really shows. He was replaced by who I like to call a "talentless hack" Jeff Wadlow, while the film is really colourful and those colours really pop, it just overall feels cheap and lower budget, despite being made for more money than the first. Wadlow directs the action scenes with horrific shakey-cam at times, despite actually creating some good set-pieces with Mother Russia's cop killing rampage and Hit-Girl's return on the van. It was just a shame nothing comes anywhere near close to the perfection of the Strobe Scene from the first. The tone is also really inconsistent, the film constantly reminds us that this is "real life", but then we get scenes so ludicrously unrealistic and stylised that they seem like something out of Scott Pilgrim.
Most of the music is just remixed from the first film, which wasn't bad. I really did like a lot of the new tracks. I just wished John Murphy returned to compose the music. Strangely enough he hasn't done music for a film since the original Kick-Ass. I will say the music used in the film that isn't the score is brutal, filled with lame and generic pop music. There was even a bizarre scene that promoted Union J. Awful.
Speaking of awful, there are a ton of awful moments, mostly involving anything with Chloe Grace Moretz's Mindy when she isn't Hit-Girl. Moretz does a great job and bring heart to the role, but what they did with her character is brutal. The whole middle of the film is her trying to fit in to normal life and it is so lame and uninteresting and it all wraps up with a juvenile and deeply childish scene involving what is called a "sick stick". I didn't even feel like I was watching a Kick-Ass film during most this stuff, it felt like a more crude Mean Girls.
All the stuff with Kick-Ass is a lot more fun, despite Aaron Taylor-Johnson's performance actually being a bit worse than the previous film. The scene in the back of van towards the end just shows how little he was trying. Aside from that, all the scenes with him and Justice Forever is a joy to watch. Jim Carey steals the show with his small role as the leader of the gang, honestly, this must be his most enjoyable role since the '90s.
With all the shortcomings, I still did really like overall theme and message the film carries from the first one, the whole "Anyone can be a hero" thing, I like it, and it's true. Also, despite the execution, I still find Kick-Ass 2 a hell of a lot more interesting than most of the Marvel films. Maybe it's just because I'm childish and enjoy violence, but I have a lot more fun with these films and care about the characters more than I do with anything Marvel has yet to make.
Kick-Ass 2 is a lesser version of the first in pretty much every way, but it still has its moments, likeable characters and fun action scenes. It's just a shame that it didn't have a better writer and director because this could have ended up great. I hope Kick-Ass 3 does finally happen, as this franchise deserves a real ending, a real ending in the hands of Matthew Vaughn or someone more capable than the talentless hack Jeff Wadlow.
Kick-Ass 2 is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
Watch the trailer below: