Kick-Ass 2 - Review

When the story of  real life superhero Kick-Ass hit comic store shelves, it was a breeze of fresh air among the usual fare of superhero stories. With a story that was far more grounded in reality and therefore more brutal and intriguing, it was basically begging to get adapted into a movie.
2010's Kick-Ass was one of the best movie of that year catapulting Chloe Grace Moretz and Aaron Taylor-Johson into stardom as well as featuring Nicolas Cage in one of his better roles after years of...weird stuff.
Was there really any doubt that there wouldn't be a sequel?
Firstly arriving in comic book form, Kick-Ass 2 differentiated a lot in terms of focus compared to its predecessor. Needless over-depiction of violence and an uncomfortably dark tone made the second Kick-Ass adventure a very polarizing read.
With new director Jeff Wadlow on board, does the movie version of Kick-Ass 2...well...kick ass? Or does it get its ass kicked *badum tsss*.  

The plot:
The costumed high-school hero Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) joins with a group of normal citizens who through him have been inspired to fight crime in costume. Meanwhile, the Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) plots an act of revenge that will affect everyone Kick-Ass knows.
(source: IMDb)

Kick-Ass 2 picks up right where its predecessor left off, so watching the first one is highly recommended.
Although being based on the comic of the same name, the movie is not a 1:1 adaptation of the Kick-Ass 2 comic but more of a mix of Kick-Ass 2 and the Hit-Girl spin off comic series, due to the fact that they take place around the same time.

Right off the bat, Kick-Ass 2 jumps into the story without wasting much time on introductions. Brief recaps and reminders of who-is-who and their relationships are briefly executed via obvious expositions, but this is a movie that definitely treats you like you already know what you are dealing with in this sequel.
With that said, the premise and beginning of the movie are far not as fresh anymore as with the first movie, but characters honestly also don't need much introduction. They already evolved into a different kind of state through the happenings of the first movie. While Kick-Ass now starts serious physical training to be better prepared for crime hunting, Hit-Girl has another kind of problem - dealing with everyday teenage girl life.
Those two character developments are the two main pillars, which the movie's story builds on top of and alternates between. Yet, both of them are not executed equally as well:

Official training to kick ass.
Kick-Ass's story segments are easily the most interesting ones.
His new found league of superheroes called "Justice Forever" lead by Colonel Stars & Stripes is a good addition that keeps the movie's formula from getting old.
Filled with likeable and funny personas, Justice League offers plenty of entertainment value although being significantly smaller and somewhat less colorful than the original comic book version.
Additionally, many of the heroes are not depicted in great enough detail like Big Daddy or Hit-Girl in the first movie, making it hard for the audience to care for them in the longrun.

Regarding Kick-Ass's story, some significant changes between the comic's story and the movie's turn out to be really troublesome and forced.


Among these, especially the out of nowhere batshit stupid breakup between Dave/Kick-Ass and his former girlfriend Katie (and just as sudden cheap replacement in the form of Nightbitch) stick out as very bad story writing.


"Be on the watch! The boots of evil are made for walkin'!"

Mindy's/Hit-Girl's story of having trouble fitting into the every day life at school as a teen girl are the overall worst parts of the entire movie.

Whereas in the comics her quest to aggressively force to be liked and at the same time get revenge on her bully was funny and exciting from start to finish, in the movie the agressive and badass nature of Hit-Girl has been toned down to almost zero during her school scenes.
In the movie, she supposedly has made a 180 turn and is only seen hanging around with bitchy girls and doin boring girly stuff, into which she gets way too easily into for someone of her killer character type. She is just too unconvincingly included into the group of the popular girls, which takes away almost everything that made the Hit-Girl spin-off comics so great - her struggle to fit in despite her killer instinct rooted into her brain. Tension and suspense in the school scenes are completely gone, due to Mindy's high school troubles being far more light hearted and clichee to be interesting.
The overly big focus on the boring school scenes even get to a point, from which you actually feel as if you are watching some sequel of 2004's Mean Girls.
The worst part: the sum of all her high school scenes lead to absolutely f***ing nothing.
Occasional signs of actual substance, like the theme of Mindy's father having taken away her childhood, get interrupted just as suddenly as they appear.

They grow up so fast.

But aside from all that drama, the Motherfucker arises.
Red Mist's story of turning into the Motherfucker and forming his league of villains is probably the most different to the comics among all of Kick-Ass 2's sub-plots.
Yet, despite all those differences, both origin stories manage to be just equally as funny.
Motherfucker's clumsily executed quest as a villain is generally fairly uneven though, alternating between intimidating violence and ridiculous humor.

This leads us to the biggest difference between the comics and the movie - the dark tone.

The original Kick-Ass 2 comic was almost universally critiqued for including a sickening amount of needless violence into its story just for the sake of being controversial.
Children getting shot, gang rapes, numerous sadistic deaths and other disturbing imagery gave the entire comic an incredibly dark and depressing tone.

On one hand, the movie actually took action of this issue and immensely toned down the violence and blood in the adaptation. On the other hand, it is toned down so much, that it often pulls the teeth of important several climatic scenes and Motherfucker's supposedly sinister plans.
At certain parts the movie even makes jokes about the individual scene's violence from the comics.
Without a doubt, Kick-Ass 2 has been incredibly polished to even be able to get marketed as a blockbuster movie but has troubles pulling off a funny, entertaining movie and the dark original storyline at the same time.

Mother Russia - The Anti-Hit-Girl

Summed up, the action in Kick-Ass 2 is basic and solid but lacks the surprise factor and the right mix of raw violence and funny dialogue of the first movie.
Iconic action scenes like the original's Hit-Girl introduction scene are sadly missing in this sequel, with the highlights mainly focussing on scenes with villain Mother Russia doing her thing.

The showdown is also a great indicator of the rushed feel of the last half of the movie. Along with it being greatly reduced in scale (it takes place inside a warehouse instead of Times Square), the long awaited final fight between Mother Russia and Hit-Girl falls very short and is way not as suspenseful as in the comics.

Acting is a solid deal overall, with all of the predecessor's actors giving good performances.
Aside from the usual fare with Chloe Grace Moretz, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Christopher-Mintz Plasse (damn those long names), Jim Carrey steals the show with his charismatic depiction of Colonel Star & Stripes.
Other than that, Chloe Grace Moretz shows the biggest change in character with Hit-Girl now being a teenager instead of an innocent little girl (whereas in the comics she's still little).
The child-like behaviour mixed with violence now got replaced with mostly teenage girl drama.
To be fair, there's not much you can do when your actress is growing, whereas the comic character isn't, but a teenage girl kicking ass is just not as nice to watch as a little girl kicking ass.
Still, there's not that much else to nag about her performance.

The showdown and ending are quite a bit different.

All in all, Kick-Ass 2 definitely is not on par with its predecessor. Despite making several necessary changes from its overly violent and dark source material, it often takes it too far and makes it an uneven, sometimes too polished adaptation. Aside from having trouble to find a good middle ground, Kick-Ass 2 is obviously more focussed on Hit-Girl as a leading character than the actual Kick-Ass.
Sadly though, with Mindy/Hit-Girl now being a teenager, way too much time is spent on clicheed and boring high school drama that leads to absolutely nothing.
Kick-Ass 2 feels quite a bit loose-hanging and far less fresh than the original. Great additions like the Justice Forever league, Mother Russia and the league of villains are nice ideas but not utilized to their full effect.
With it being such a big mixed-bag of some ideas that work and some that don't, you can clearly see that a new director was hired for this sequel.
Still, Kick-Ass 2 is worth a watch and will entertain you, although probably not nearly as consistently as the original. Here's hoping that Kick-Ass 3 will manage to conclude the trilogy in great fashion to redeem the clumsy and flawed Kick-Ass 2 comic as well as its movie adaptation.  

Final Verdict: 4 out of 10 

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