Back in 2010 Kick-Ass, the superhero film directed by Matthew Vaughn, became one of the biggest surprises of the year. It wasn’t seen as a financial success though (although it did make over 2.5x over its budget in the worldwide box office), so it looked like there would be no follow-up film despite a cliffhanger ending. Then just last year news came that Jeff Wadlow was doing what was thought to not be possible: Kick-Ass 2. Now that Kick-Ass 2 has been released, was it really all worth it? I will give Kick-Ass 2 one thing. It has made me like the first film even more. Kick-Ass 2 is a big mess that largely succeeds because of great characters and the creative forces behind the film knowing the overall path these characters had to take (even if the specifics of that path are mostly uninteresting).
Kick-Ass 2 takes place a few years after the events of Kick-Ass. Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is a popular senior at school now that he has retired from the superhero life. Meanwhile, Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz) is still blowing off school to continue her training as a superhero, and Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is plotting his revenge on Kick-Ass for the death of his father. However, a series of events are set in motion when Dave becomes aware of a group of superheroes lead by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), and he decides to once again don the mask of Kick-Ass. The film is directed and written by Jeff Wadlow (Never Back Down).
Matthew Vaughn created a film that expertly straddled the line between an interesting deconstruction and a stupid mess of a film with Kick-Ass, and Jeff Wadlow’s work on this film shows that this type of a film needs someone that is as good as Vaughn in the directing department. The humor and violence are back again, but in Wadlow’s hands the joke execution rate is really low, and the violence becomes a bit disconcerting at times. This results in a film that thinks it’s a goofy meta-comedy like The Muppetsand yet has a rape scene (most of it is off camera) and other heinous crimes. Luckily, Vaughn left Wadlow a huge gift. The characters are excellent. Kick-Ass is still a good hero. Hit-Girl is still a character for the ages, and even Chris D’Amico is a villain that you can understand.
It also helps that those characters are preformed quite well. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and (especially) Chloe Grace Moretz deliver performances that seem to build off of their work in the previous film to make it seem like their characters are naturally progressing. While there is no performance like Nicholas Cage as Big Daddy, the supporting cast in this film is much better than its predecessor and there is one performance that gets close to Cage’s. That is Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes. Carrey doesn’t have much screen time, but he makes sure you remember his character as he delivers a chameleon-like performance. Other standouts from the supporting cast include Olga Kurkulina as Mother Russia (one of the better henchman in recent memory), Lindy Booth as Night-Bitch (finding a way to make her character not seem ridiculous as Kick-Ass’ love interest without much screen time to do so), and Clark Duke as Dave’s friend Marty (doing some solid comedic relief in an expanded role from the first film).
Thanks to some strong character work Kick-Ass 2is able to overcome a slew of problems.