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Kick-Ass 2 – Movie Review

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Kick-Ass 2 – Movie Review

Rating: A- (Great)

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The most scene-stealing and controversial element in Kick-Ass was the eleven-year-old Hit Girl bouncing around and killing criminals in cold blood. With Kick-Ass 2, the new director and writer Jeff Wadlow understood that was the most memorable part and has nicely expanded the character’s role in the sequel. The result is a worthy continuation, that not only develops the title character and the main message, but has helped in making Hit-Girl one of the best screen superheroes. It would have been easy to simply give us more highly-spirited action sequences with her chopping off limbs. That is in Kick-Ass 2, but most of the time, her screen time is devoted to showing how such a person cut from regular society tries to adapt to “normality.” This is a key part of the fun and cleverness to be had here.

I have lost count the amount of times the message of “just being yourself” has appeared in a motion picture and Kick-Ass 2 nicely skewers that with Mindy/Hit-Girl struggling with her dual identity. Chloe Moretz does an excellent job of portraying the character, showing her sheer boldness in addition to her uncertainty of fitting into this new society. However, one aspect in which Kick-Ass 2 tops its predecessor is in the emotionality department. Without degrading what makes Hit-Girl such a fantastic character, the screenplay shows her softer side and Moretz is superb in conveying that. A large part of the novelty of her in the first film was the sight of this pre-teen girl performing these violent stunts and swearing like a sailor. However, there was also an actual three-dimensional personality behind that and the sequel further showcases this. If they merely repeated that aspect of Hit-Girl, she would have seemed tired. Thankfully, this added dimension makes her all the more special a creation and it makes the few action sequences she has even more rewarding.

The other half of the picture focusing on Dave/Kick-Ass also works tremendously. In the first film, he was merely a young teenager learning the ropes of being a superhero and finding out the consequences. For the sequel, he realises that is a large part of him and the focus on his relationship with his father is an interesting and well-handled direction the filmmakers turn to. Aaron Johnson has also grown as an actor since the first adventure three years ago and manages to successfully to show the changes of the character. Kick-Ass 2 also brings plenty of mileage towards the new batch of heroes. Jim Carrey slips very well into the role of Colonel Stars-and-Stripes, with his personality being a humourous contrast to his more violent way of dealing with criminals.

Lindy Booth also presents a likeable turn as Kick-Ass’s new love interest. While other superhero films mainly show romance between the hero and the damsel, Kick-Ass 2 continues its genre-twisting cleverness by having two superheroes pair up. The Justice Forever hero team proves to be an interesting contrast to the villainous crew set-up by Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s antagonist, whose pseudonym is probably not suitable for print. Formerly known as McLovin, the actor instantly shuns that moniker with a rather psychopathic performance, while also creating the appropriate pathetic vibe for his character. The screenplay is able to show the villains as a serious threat, while equally making fun of how ridiculous their get-up is.

The humour in Kick-Ass 2 is on par with its predecessor, though it does indulge in a bit more crude humour and violent carnage this time. One of the funniest scenes involves a lot of vomit and while Wadlow could have made it too disgusting, he strikes the right balance and it works perfectly. As stated before, it is not merely the use of profanity that makes Mindy so funny and endearing, it’s the way that Moretz performs her lines. The dark comedy also works more often than not and when the movie could have become a tad too disturbing, the filmmakers are smart to immediately turn away. One major turn-off from the original graphic novel was thankfully changed for the film adaptation. Otherwise, Kick-Ass 2 might have ventured into too dark a direction.

Clark Duke’s role as Dave’s best friend is also nicely expanded and he is given plenty of funny material to work with. Meanwhile, the action sequences are spectacularly directed with Hit-Girl unsurprisingly receiving the stand-out moments. A scene atop a van is the highlight of Kick-Ass 2 with some incredible stunt work on display. Like the first film, the action scenes work because the characters remain themselves and the sequences fit into their styles of fighting. The filmmakers understand the physics and makes the action as realistic as this comic book-like world can pull off. Captain Stars-and-Stripes’ fighting style is different from Hit-Girl’s, who is also a lot more advanced than Kick-Ass and Chris D’Amico.

While they are essentially dark comedies about the consequences of real superheroism and vigilantism, the Kick-Ass series has managed to bring a certain joy. It succeeds in creating an interesting set of characters and the decision to expand Hit-Girl’s role was a fantastic idea. A spin-off feature merely about her would be an interesting territory, if the filmmakers and studios are willing. Even with the change of director (though Matthew Vaughan did remain as a producer), Kick-Ass 2 is a great continuation and expansion of these heroes and villains. A third film would certainly be a welcome treat, whether either Vaughan or Jeff Wadlow choose to return.

Review By: Stefan Ellison

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