When Matthew Vaughn brought Mark Millar’s ultra violent and ‘sweary’ KICK-ASS to the cinema it felt like the necessary antidote or palette cleanser for the straight faced and stoic super-hero flicks flooding our screens. It was immediate, stylish, fun and heartfelt making the prospect of a sequel that significantly ‘up’d’ the stakes fly straight to the top of all must see lists. However, as Vaughn shifted into the producer’s chair and with new writer/director Jeff Wadlow at the helm; the defiant cool of the first film that kept telling us superheroes couldn’t exist in the real world, ends up slavishly conforming to the tropes of both super-hero and teen cinema resulting in an inferior cosplay dress up of the original.
At the end of KICK-ASS as our titular hero (played by Aaron Johnson) defeated his mob-boss foe (Mark Strong) thus turning his ally Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), the son of the villain, into an arch nemesis. KICK-ASS 2 picks up right where we left off, Kick Ass (Johnson) is attempting to hang up the spandex and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) is adjusting to life without her Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) by her side. It’s a world that’s been inspired by the cape and cowled shenanigans of the first flick and a plethora of new super ‘wannabes’ are roaming the streets. While Mintz-Plasse’s ‘The Mother Fucker’ is gathering genuine bad-asses and dressing them in tights with the express intention of murdering KICK-ASS.
The good in KICK-ASS 2 is solely in Hit Girl’s injection into a Mean Girls-esque teen film in the opening act of the film. Other than that, it’s repetitious, dry garbage.
Wadlow forgets that there was an entire origin film preceding this follow-up and clumsily stomps all over familiar ground. The only rule is excess. More adherence to super-hero archetypes in all their brutality; more outrageously impractical suits with offensive racial/sexual stereotypes; and more senseless everything. Wadlow’s directorial style is very conservative. Unlike Vaughn’s striking frenetic movement and angular framing, Wadlow locks off the camera in a soap opera mid shot for most of the proceedings. Johnson’s gangly physique and perpetual surprise was perfectly appropriate for his portrayal of Kick-Ass in the original film. However his sustained naivety doesn’t suit his exposure to horrendous events nor his now ‘totes SWOL’ physique of comic book hero (even if shirtless scenes caused sporadic showers throughout the underpants of the ladies and gents in the audience).
Mintz-Plasse is possibly the most infuriating you’re going to see him as he evolves from Red Mist to ‘The Mother Fucker.’ They say there’s a banality in evil deeds and that’s precisely the feeling you have watching ‘The Mother Fucker’ at work.
KICK-ASS 2 defames the original. It’s a style-less and humourless retread; sans heart.
Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to the audio review on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.