Title: Kick Ass 2
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Script: Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jim Carrey, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
In this follow up to the 2010 film, Kick Ass, Dave Lizewski continues to fight crime as part of a larger group called Justice Forever led by Colonel Stars and Stripes including new heroes Battle Guy, Dr. Gravity, Insect Man and Dave’s new love interest Night-Bitch, whilst Mindy Macready questions her own involvement in the world of crime fighting.
Jim Carrey, as Colonel Stars and Stripes, is sadly underused. He's an excellent actor when given good material to work with and perhaps his character was introduced to the story to fill the void left by the death of Nicholas Cage's Big Daddy character from the first film. Unfortunately the character of General Stars and Stripes (an ex-mafia enforcer trying valiantly to make up for past transgressions) lacks the back-story, screen-time or gravitas to really make an impact.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz do more of the same as Kick Ass and Hit Girl. Him: wimpy but courageous, her: morally and emotionally confused but deadly. They slip back into their suits and personalities as if they'd never been away and this is credit to them as actors as much time has passed and they have both taken on various different roles in the interim. So impressed was I by the first installment, much like other film fans must have, I followed the burgeoning on screen careers of both Taylor Johnson and Moretz closely and with genuine interest.
Clarke Duke gets an expanded role, no doubt due in part to his elevated billing in Hollywood between the two films and there is a reasonably sized role for Donald Fasion of TV 'Scrubs' fame. Both men play new have-a-go super heroes that join up with Kick Ass.
The character of the Mother Fxxxer, played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse is questionable for many reasons and he doesn't make for an especially interesting or believable villain (too young, too impetuous) but then this is a world where we're expected to believe in Kick Ass as a believable hero. Is Kick Ass even likable?
In many respects it's a by the numbers sequel to a film so popular that not making a sequel to would have been financially stupid. But in terms of character and plot progression it’s, at least partly, redundant.
The first film was fresh, exciting, unpredictable and had a sense of not taking itself too seriously. It was funny and charming. This sequel lacks these key elements somehow despite somehow still being very similar. It's almost the same but just, perhaps undefinably, not as good. Clearly the change in scripting staff will have had an effect.
All of this however is not to say it's a bad film. The acting is up to standard and Jeff Wadlow’s direction, whilst lacking the ingenuity or flourishes of say Sam Raimi or Edgar Wright, is still solid.
Fans will enjoy the ride. It's just that when a franchise sets itself up as well as Kick Ass did in its first film then fans and critics (of which I am both) might well feel slightly deflated by an underwhelming second installment.