Director: Jeff Wadlow

Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, sovaldi Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jim Carrey. Film Review: Kick Ass 2

Richard Mitchell gives his verdict on the sequel to the 2010 superhero comedy.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Dave Lizewski – AKA Kick Ass – is back on the streets. KICK ASS 2, the sequel to the 2010 cult hit, is finally in cinemas. While never quite reaching the giddy heights of the first film, the sequel is a gleefully violent and a very funny highlight in what has been a decidedly disappointing summer of films.

The original Kick Ass was such a good film partially because of the ridiculous nature of its premise which both actors and director embraced completely. The idea that a teenager can just pull on a cheap wet-suit and mask and fight crime is monumentally stupid, but we want it to work. It inspires us, this idea that one person can make a difference, that sometimes it helps to dream big even when we’re beaten down again and again (quite literally in Dave Lizewski’s case). It is this idea of inspiration which is the premise of the plot  in the sequel. Since  the first film’s conclusion a whole crop of wannabe superheroes have emerged, ordinary people in colourful costumes patrolling the streets of New York, inspired by Kick Ass. Despite his initial misgivings, Dave is quickly drawn back into the role of Kick Ass to join the world’s first superhero alliance, “Justice Forever”, led by Jim Carrey’s ultraviolent do-gooder Colonel Stars N’ Stripes. Unfortunately, just as there are new superheroes, new supervillains have started joining together, following Red Mist (who is now known by the more colourful sobriquet of The Motherfucker). With Chloe Grace Moretz’s Hit Girl also joining the party, it’s building to a super-showdown like no other.

Whereas Matthew Vaughn was at the helm of Kick Ass, the somewhat more traditional Jeff Wadlow takes over for Kick Ass 2. Wadlow’s general direction is largely nondescript with none of the excitement present in the original’s technicality and camera-work. However, Wadlow’s style does allow the actors to bring plenty of emotion to the surface; Moretz’s side-story of Hit Girl going through the tribulations of American high school is both touching and well-presented, providing a humanising aspect to an otherwise potentially cold character.

Kick Ass 2 really excels in its action. The first film was in no way lacking in this department but the sequel ramps it up to awe-inspiring levels. Here Wadlow’s direction shines, with every fight orchestrated perfectly; we can trace the geography of every battle, we can follow the action easily, and when it comes to folks being knocked out and even killed, every glorious gory moment is splattered across the screen clearly and without compromise. The film’s script judiciously cuts back on the excesses of the source material, abandoning the vast showdown in Time Square of the comic in favour of a far more contained (but impressively no less epic) final showdown.

Kick Ass 2 deserves to do well. As a continuation of the series it expands brilliantly on the original concept and leaves me very excited to see where it goes next. As a superhero film it both embraces and plays on the traditions of films like The Avengers to great effect. As a work of cinema it both inspires and amuses.  Kick Ass 3? Bring it on.