The prospect of Kick-Ass 2 puts me in an unusual position. On the one hand I really enjoyed the first movie, but saw no reason for there to be a sequel to it. On top of this, the sequel comic wasn’t very good, simply upping the excess and losing the originality, and while they remain on as producers, original screenwriters and director Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn have vacated their positions, leaving them to Jeff Wadlow, the man behind Never Back Down.
My worries appeared to have been unnecessary at first as Kick-Ass 2 begins fairly well, with Wadlow directing with the same energy and humour Vaughn brought to the original. Some time has passed since the last film, the now teenage Mindy for one looks considerably older but she’s still skipping school to be a ‘super hero’. Dave on the other hand has quit but is feeling bored and wants to get back in the game with Mindy’s help. Chris however, has decided to become ‘the world’s first super-villain’ and get revenge on Kick-Ass.
The film takes elements from the Kick-Ass 2 sequel comic and also the in between Hit-Girl one, and in the film’s first half, the two characters’ stories are clearly separate. After returning to the streets, Kick-Ass joins up with a superhero team lead by ‘Colonel Stars and Stripes’, (an amusing but brief appearance by Jim Carrey), to fight crime. The Hit-Girl story is about her struggles to fit in in high school, and run-ins with the bitchy popular girls. It’s quite funny for a while, even containing elements of satire, but unfortunately culminates in an awfully juvenile manner.
The film also tones down many of the comic’s excesses, (a couple of which I was quite grateful for), but does run into trouble when it tries to be serious. Kick-Ass 2 expectedly contains numerous violent deaths, most of which we are invited to laugh at, and many of these succeed in that. However, when the knowingly ludicrous film suddenly requires us to see death as sad and serious, it’s harder to do so.
There wasn’t really anywhere for Kick-Ass to go, and while it deserves some points for effort, and has a number of enjoyable jokes and set pieces, ultimately none of the elements here are as strong or exciting as their equivalents in the first movie. This combined with the lack of originality diminishes the film, and results in Kick-Ass 2 feeling like a much lesser work.