Kick Ass, the 2010 adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s comic book series, turned out to be a massive hit, garnering critical acclaim from the fans and making a pretty solid commercial return on its relatively modest $30 million budget.
Jeff Wadlow directs and handles the screenplay duties for the sequel, and brings a sure hand to the proceedings (despite the occasional misstep along the way). His name has been attached to Fox’s upcoming X-Force movie, and based on his job here, I get the impression the franchise is going to be in an extremely safe of hands as it moves forwards.
Now, in spite of the title, this is very much a ‘Hit Girl’ movie (shocking I know), with Chloë Grace Moretz building on her show-stealing turn as Mindy Macready from the first film. The sequel lets us see Mindy develop and grow in the ‘real world’, trying to balance the trials and tribulations of being a fifteen year old high school student with the constant urge to don that purple wig and start killing people with their own fingers (yeah). She is front-and-centre throughout the majority of the proceedings, and while some of the ‘high school’ shenanigans do provide some entertaining moments, the majority of them drag and definitely put a dent in the forward momentum of the movie. Oh, and there’s one particular moment just comes across as bafflingly low-brow, seeming more at home in an American Pie movie than in an edgy, self-aware film like this.
Potential Quicksilver Aaron Taylor-Johnson does a solid job as Dave Lizewski, in spite of being overshadowed by almost every character he’s on screen with. His boundless optimism and endearing naivety give the film its heart, and while his overall character development isn’t much, it is just enough to make the whole journey worthwhile. He also does get a few moments to shine, and does as well as can be expected with these limited opportunities. I’m not sure if it’s a reflection on the actor himself or just the way the film is structured, but he definitely comes across as one of the least interesting characters here, especially as the new faces start flooding in.
Oh yeah. In an attempt to ‘go big’ in the wake of the first film’s success, we are bombarded with a seemingly never-ending onslaught of superheroes and villians, and while the majority of these are basically one-note jokes (usually regarding their name) there are a few noticeable standouts. Despite his recent ‘stand’ against the movie and its over-the-top violence, Jim Carrey is at his scene-stealing best here, clearly having an absolute blast in his portrayal of former-mob-enforcer-turned-insane-born-again-Christian Colonel Stars and Stripes. Mother Russia is also the undoubted standout of the villainous Toxic Mega C*nts (which isn’t saying much, as she’s about the only one of them to get any real screen time), and almost steals the entire movie in one incredibly memorable scene.
It also bears mentioning that Christopher Mintz-Plasse puts in a hell of a performance here, excelling in his role of “The Motherf*cker”, and actually managing to garner a little sympathy – from me, at least –despite playing such an utterly detestable character.
Be aware though, for all the strong performances and interesting characters, this is an extremely uneven film, flitting from sophomoric humour to ‘poignant’ emotional scenes to almost slapstick violence so rapidly that it’s sometimes difficult to gauge exactly how you’re supposed to be feeling.
All in all however, this is a film that fires a huge amount of ideas at the wall, most of which (though not quite all) stick. There’s a huge amount of great stuff here, with some touching moments, some terrific action set-pieces and – yes – more uncomfortably delightful violence than you can shake a baton at. If you loved the first movie, I can see no reason that you wouldn’t love the sequel, but if you’re looking for a film that builds or actually improves on its predecessor, you may wind up going home disappointed.
Still, a great way to spend a couple of hours, and a film I can heartily recommend.
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