Let me start by saying I loved the original Kick-Ass.
The film played with tropes of super hero movies, while demonstrating the consequences of being a real life super hero. It blended humor and violence brilliantly, making it heartfelt and a ton of fun. If you were like me and loved Kick-Ass, you’ll love Kick-Ass 2 because it has all the elements of the first movie, while telling an extremely compelling story.
Kick-Ass 2 opens a few years after the events of the first movie. Dave/Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson) has packed away the suit, but his actions have inspired other super heroes to emerge and patrol the streets. While a series of events get Dave to dawn the scuba suit again, Mindy/Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) has to deal with a life outside of being a super hero.
Doesn’t that synopsis make it seem like the film is a cliche super hero movie? That’s the beauty of it, because on the surface it is, but the film takes some surprising and dark turns that keep the film interesting. How dark? The film deals with themes of police corruption and the real consequences of being a super hero (i.e. the extreme dangers it puts your family members in). However, in the midst of all this darkness, the film somehow maintains a fun tongue and cheek tone.
The extreme tonal shift between the darker plot, the whacky characters (there is character named Mother Russia, can’t get much more goofy than that) and the character’s over the top action (drinking game: take a shot every time a limb is cut off) can cause some tonal problems. However, it’s the same tonal problems that hurt Kick-Ass, so if you were fine with that film’s tone, you’ll be happy here.
Other aspects that made Kick-Ass fantastic are present in Kick-Ass 2. For example, Hit Girl. She is still furious and the best ass kicker in this movie. However, the film complicates her character and take her out of her element by removing Hit Girl’s mask. We get to see her as Mindy, the high school girl. This different side of Hit Girl adds a whole new level of compassion to the character because we see her in new situations and that makes me care for her that much more. I am very happy with the character choices made for Hit Girl, and Moretz’s subtly powerful performance captured Hit Girl’s turmoil brilliantly. As she was in Kick-Ass, Moretz is the standout performance in Kick-Ass 2.
While Kick-Ass 2 has many successes, it is far from perfect. For example, the aforementioned over the top action. The violence can sometimes be too much and becomes violence for the sake of violence. The film constantly tries to up the violence with beheadings, blood spurting everywhere, and bodies being mangled by various objects (i.e. cars and sharks). I will admit, the violence became too explicit sometimes and was uncomfortable for me to watch on screen. As you could imagine, it is not a strength of a film to make me uncomfortable.
Another aspect of Kick-Ass 2 that I felt wasn’t needed was the toilet humor. Potty humor is the lowest form of humor and just disgusting to watch. If you find joy in watching someone shit and vomit all over themselves (this was a scene in the movie), then I guess you will like some of jokes in the film. I don’t like it and I felt it didn’t belong in a movie this well made.
In terms of action, the movie is okay, but nothing special. It kind of tread similar waters with other films, making it somewhat cliche. For example, we have the typical two opposing armies charging at each other scene and the lead actors in each army pairing off and fighting each other. Overall, if you are going to see Kick-Ass 2 for the spectacle (effects, large action set pieces) you will be disappointed.
However, as with Kick-Ass, this film’s greatest strength is that it tells a compelling story were our leads have to juggle the responsibilities and consequences of being super heroes. The film makes it extremely difficult on these characters by leading them into new and uncomfortable territory (Hit Girl not being Hit Girl anymore and Kick-Ass feeling the dire consequences of being a superhero (this phrasing was chosen specifically). It is very engaging and aloud me to appreciate the characters because we got to seem them struggle and find the power to perceive. In a nutshell, caring for these characters while presenting an engaging parody on super hero films makes Kick-Ass 2 a smashing success and another great film to add to the Kick-Ass canon.