Action, 103 Minutes, 2013
The original Kick-Ass [IMDB] was my favorite movie of 2010 and one of the best comic book adaptations ever made. While s0me were critical of the changes made to the story I thought that they suited the medium better while honoring the spirit of the original well.
The sequel can’t possibly, of course, have the same raw impact, but it is worthwhile. Again, the story differs, rather drastically, from the comic but is still great. We pick up two-years later. Regular guy Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson [IMDB]) has given up his superhero alter ego, Kick-Ass, but misses the excitement. Superhero Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz [IMDB]) attempts to blend in with her regular girl alter ego, Mindy MacCready.
The two begin to train together, but when Mindy’s adoptive father lays down the law she makes her first serious attempt to give up Hit-Girl for good. Much of the film’s heart comes from Hit-Girl’s almost desperate attempt to force normality on herself. Watching her navigate high-school, fashion, pop-music and mean girls is a highlight. Moretz has proven herself as one of the best actors of her generation and she has yet to disappoint.
Dave, now left alone, decides to join a burgeoning super-hero group run by Colonel Stars and Stripes (a nearly unrecognizable, and very effective, Jim Carrey [IMDB]). This whole sub-plot provides an amazing glimpse into some of the motivations behind real-life super-heroing. Meanwhile, a newly emancipated – and very deranged – Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse [IMDB]) has dropped his Red-Mist super-hero identity and begun building a super-villain army as “The Motherfucker”. When The Motherfucker makes his debut things get bad. Fast.
The action is furious and brutal, but smart and tightly-directed. Many of the sequences feature larger numbers of participants in and wider, open spaces. This forces a loss of the focus that defined the original but it still works. There’s nothing to match the amazing “Banana Splits” sequence from the original, but there’s also nothing here to be ashamed of. The same iconic brand of dark humor is infused throughout and the movie, wisely, reuses much of the original’s amazing score.
I have only one real complaint, which is also a minor spoiler: I was disappointed that Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca [IMDB]), the object of Dave’s adoration in the first film, is dismissed both summarily and harshly. It’s not really unexpected – relationships, in general, rarely seem to survive sequels as annoying as that may be – but it was a very cheap-out. Katie deserved better than she got. On the positive side this did allow the movie to align, slightly more, with the comic book storyline.
Kick-Ass 2 doesn’t surpass the original. The original created broke exciting new ground that it only partially examined. It was a benchmark. The sequel follows in its footsteps but stays squarely and purposefully in its shadow. It adopts the concepts and ideas of the first and refines them; builds on them. It’s a worthy successor, in every way, to an iconic, genre-defining movie. It hits the benchmark set for it and you can’t really ask more of it than that.