Being a sequel to a sleeper hit would always be a tough job; there are now expectations and more exposure than the previous – this often results in marketing so intrusive that you feel like the entirety of the film has been released through trailers or various TV spots. As much as it would be wonderful to preach how Kickass 2 differs from this formula, the fact is that it doesn’t.
This film picks up with Chloe Grace Moretz’ Mindy McCready (better known as Hit-Girl) going to high school and Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s’ Dave Lizewski (better known as the eponymous Kick-Ass) feeling somewhat alienated and searching for others like him. This draws him to a Watchmen-esque band of super heroes with Jim Carrey’s maniacal Colonel Stars and Stripes at the head. Meanwhile Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Chris D’Amico (aka Red Mist/ The Motherfucker (no, seriously)) decides to become a super villain. Are you still following?
The plot as a whole does feel like two separate stories shoehorned together (it is based upon two separate comic books, which might explain this) however it seems that the film is rather clunky in the way it transitions between the two stories. One other issue is that the film falls very flat when Chloe Moretz is not on-screen. Given her past performances in (500) Days of Summer, Let Me In and Hugo, she is definitely a very special talent.
The main flaw of Kickass 2 is the original. Kickass was sharp, tongue-in-cheek, self-referential and fresh – all of these the sequel lacks. There is no moment where a jetpack could appear with Elvis’ American Trilogy playing behind it. The main creative team of Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman take producer credits but it’s clear that Kickass 2 is missing the sassy, whip-smart script they have provided in their other collaborations such as Stardust and the first Kickass.
Would it be a result of unrealistic expectations set by the love of the first film that causes Kickass 2 to be a disappointment? Potentially but it’s surprising how wide of the mark the sequel has fallen. It is not enough to turn up violence, swearing and stupidity, it needed to be done with the wit, charm and knowing of the original – and it wasn’t.
That is not to say there is no merit in Kickass 2, it has some good jokes and it does move along at a pace that is engaging although this, sadly isn’t enough. The big shock was that Jim Carrey was so underused. You have a big film star, a somewhat floundering career who has thrown himself fully into his character and the time is spent on the mopey Dave Lizewski – not a great move.
Given the feeling of the first film, Kickass 2 leaves you flat and somewhat unimpressed. It’s surprising actually indifferent the film is. It would be safe to assume from the first one that any sequel that is bigger, bolder and more sweary would cause a much more polarized response from its audience as opposed to the staggering indifference it gave.