‘Kick-Ass 2’ (2013): Chloe Grace Moretz > Jim Carrey (Review)

The original Kick-Ass is one of those masterpieces that, though ubiquitous, wasn’t quite the smash hit that it should have been. It was one of the best movies of 2010 and is safe as #8 in my personal top ten superhero hierarchy of all time.

Jean-Luc Godard had a saying: “The best way to critique a movie is to make another movie.” That right there is the magic behind Kick-Ass. The film functions as an absurdist parody of the superhero filmography, using basic low-budget technical filmmaking to show that superheroes in the real world are mostly just idiots in costumes. If they tried any crime-stopping antics, they’d probably get what happened to Kick-Ass himself in the beginning of the film (stabbed and hit by a car for those who don’t remember). And if there ever was a vigilante capable of superhero-like deeds, there’s a good chance that person would be a little…insane. It even functions as a lesson as to how Hollywood glorifies and treats the superhero – overly dramatizing his story while showing off his look, but if Christian Bale ever put on the Batsuit he wore in the Nolan movies, he’d look ridiculous…and not just because that suit was the worst thing in those films. But Kick-Ass manages to do all that while also just being a really good and highly entertaining movie.

Kick-Ass

So how’s the sequel?

Directed by Jeff Wadlow, Kick-Ass 2 is a movie where the mistakes it makes and the places where it trips up or falls shy of the excellence of the first film are plentiful enough to earn the movie a negative review from a snooty critic who wants to prove how smart and observant he is, and, if present in another movie, would more than likely sink that film to below-par levels. But it just doesn’t do that here.

It’s true that Dave and Mindy spend most of the film going back and forth on their commitments to super-heroism (to the point that they’re almost starring in two separate movies) until the threat of the bad guy calls. It’s also true that there are one or two troubling scenes that exist mostly to take the plot for a turn, one of which involves a character (played by a certain actor that will make every Game of Thrones fan go nuts) that we unfortunately never see again. It’s true that Katie is gone from the movie save for a single scene at the beginning that serves to show us that she and Dave are no longer together. And there isn’t anyone quite up to the task of replacing Nicholas Cage’s Big Daddy.

Kick-Ass 2 sets out to continue the same joke that the first movie did, more from Mark Millar’s comic book in order to do it. There are a lot of characters in this film, but it doesn’t feel particularly clunky or overbearing. The film lacks the subtlety of the first film, where the comedic bits (like the opening superhero gag or Hit Girl committing mass genocide in that apartment) functioned as surprise moments. This time, the humor is more raunchy and blunt – being more about topping itself. Does it work? Mostly, yes. Jim Carrey definitely pulls out all the stops for the short time he has in the movie to play the gun-fetishistic Colonel Stars & Stripes, whose personality is a combination of Rorschach and Captain America (and when you see the movie, you’ll be wondering just what the heck he was thinking when he started complaining about the violence in reference to Sandy Hook). Christopher Mintz-Plasse is playing a very different Chris D’Amico from the first film but grows into his role as the supervillain “The Mother F***er” quite well, even if his coolest henchman isn’t quite as funny as the black guy with the bazooka.

Kick-Ass and the Mother Fucker

Unfortunately, the film – particularly Mindy’s arc is undercut by the lack of Nicolas Cage as Big Daddy, and there’s really no way around that. What they come up with her works, but not spectacularly. Dave is eager to try and do more good for his city, as is Mindy Macready until she is talked into giving it up by her new adoptive father in favor of having the normal life that she never got with her real dad. Unfortunately for her, a normal life in high school for a girl like her is Mean Girls but with a way funnier resolution. She can’t shake who she really is, busting out her martial arts when she’s asked to dance in a performance that gets her a standing ovation. But she isn’t sure that she wants to be a superhero again until everyone needs her back. Yes – her arc is basically the classic superhero second movie with her struggling to find that balance between the two worlds that she’s created for herself. Dave, on the other hand, is getting the hang of the superhero business, finding others just like him, and living it up when the villains make their move and he’s over his head again.

These are stories you’ve seen before, but the characters are still themselves and they’re still a lot of fun to watch. Otherwise, it has the majority of what worked in the first movie still going for it – including an action scene that taught me that Wadlow is a big fan of Indiana Jones. This isn’t a sequel that’s looking to redefine what Kick-Ass ultimately “is” or use the first film as a jumping point to take the story in an entirely different and fresh direction. It’s just a really fun action movie in an otherwise lame summer that you’re likely to look back on with a smile.

And for those wondering, given what happened in this movie, there probably won’t be a Kick-Ass 3. Take from that what you will.

The Good: The violence, the language, Chloe Moretz, the ending (which I think is actually good enough to save the film).
The Bad: It’s nothing you haven’t seen before.
The Ugly: Matthew Vaughn’s direction and understanding of using comedy for character development and using such characters to make an entertaining film that is also serious about something is missing here. And ultimately that’s why it doesn’t measure up to the first even if it’s an enjoyable film.

The first Kick-Ass is a film that never needed nor asked for a sequel, but given what they came out with, it could have done a whole lot worse.

Overall: 7.1/10

Written By Vivek Subramanyam

Vivek is a handsome, talented, well-spoken political aficionado and part-time film critic who totally never ever writes mini-bios about himself.

Follow him on Twitter @VerverkS or check out his blog V for Verbatim.


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  • 70srichard

    Very much my impression as well. Some slight variance in the tone of our reviews but the outcome is the same.

  • 70srichard

    Very much my impression as well. Some slight variance in the tone of our reviews but the outcome is the same.

  • Looking forward to checking this one out this weekend. Big fan of the comic series so I imagine this will be toned down a bit from the source material.

  • Rodney

    This film was never – not by a long shot – going to hold up to the original, mainly because Mathew Vaughn wasn’t directing. A lot of the reviews for this have largely consisted of people being disappointed, so I’m not holding much hope that I’ll enjoy it as much as the original. Well reviewed, Vivek.

  • Vivek Subramanyam

    Thank you, good sir! I hope you enjoy the movie.

  • Dan O’Neill

    Good review Vivek. Obviously, it doesn’t hold up to the original. That much will always be true. However, it’s fun for what it is and pretty entertaining.

  • Vivek Subramanyam

    Thanks for reading, Rich. 🙂

  • Vivek Subramanyam

    Hope you like/liked it!

  • Vivek Subramanyam

    There are very few superhero movies that can hold up to the original “Kick-Ass”. Thanks for reading!

  • The Vern

    It is toned way down from the source material. If they did shoot it that way. It would have gotten an NC-17 or a very hard R

  • Dan

    It is perhaps a film that suffers from its own success. Given how subversive it was, perhaps now it is nothing more than cliche.

    I, for one, wasn’t as thrilled by the original film as many were. Given its success there was an inevitability regarding a sequel and I’m sure to check it out. But I’ll keep my expectations in check.

  • Vivek Subramanyam

    Fair enough. This movie does dive into some of the cliches that it’s making fun of. But I think you’ll enjoy it anyway.

  • I think the main problem with this, it the set pieces they were shot terribly, and edited even worse.. the patching together of stunt double and Cloe is something we saw in the 70/80’s, and the sequence on the Van was beyond bad…

  • Rodney

    Sometimes I wish we could get some NC17 stuff out of a comic book movie. Some comics need the edge…

  • Chris

    Great review Vivek! I thought the first was a lot of fun so I’m looking forward to this despite the slightly negative reviews.

  • Vivek Subramanyam

    Thanks! I thought most of the negative reviews were a little unfair, but the film does admittedly have enough faults to warrant one if I felt so inclined. Still – it would be nonetheless unfair, given what the film is doing and the direction the film is veering from its source material – something I didn’t mention.

  • Pingback: Kick-Ass 2 Review: F*ck You, Rotten Tomatoes | Rorschach Reviews()

  • Absolutely loved it. It would definitely be as good as the first one had Vaughn returned. Wadlow was okay, but no one has the energy of Vaughn. Out of curiosity, what would you score the first flick?

  • Vivek Subramanyam

    9.3

  • Yeah I look forward to seeing the Garth Ennis series Crossed made into some PG-13 films 😉