Jun 2, 2014

Review: Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

The first Kick-Ass was an interesting movie. It struck a delicate balance between comedy and brutal action that made for a good show. It was pretty over-the-top but hard to dislike. There was a lot of buzz around it at the time but for Kick-Ass 2 it was kinda quiet. The only thing I really heard was about Jim Carrey's refusal to do any promotional work for the film as a result of the Sandy Hook shooting as well as Chloë Grace Moretz's response. In the end, Kick-Ass 2 made an OK $60 million on a $28 million budget. In comparison, Kick-Ass made $96 million on an identical budget so I'm sure there was a lot of disappointment.

I'm impressed that the decision was made to keep the same budget from the first movie. Usually sequels have this thing with just making things grander, starting with the budget which usually never ends well. Kick-Ass 2 attempts to stay in the same spirit as its predecessor but somewhere along the line, something went wrong. I don't know if it's because of Matthew Vaughn's exit as director while being kicked upstairs as producer, or if it was the change in screenplay writer. Either way, Kick-Ass 2 is a misfire.

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Genre: action, comedy, crime
Directed by: Jeff Wadlow
Produced by: Adam Bohling, Tarquin Pack, Brad Pitt, etc.
Written by: Jeff Wadlow
Music by: Henry Jackman, Matthew Margeson
Running time: 103 minutes
Production company: Universal Pictures, Marv Films, Plan B Entertainment, etc.
Distributed by: Universal Pictures, Toho-Towa, Universal Pictures International, etc.
Country: United Kingdom, United States
Language: English
Budget: $28,000,000
Box office: $60,795,985 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Morris Chestnut, Clark Duke, Donald Faison, John Leguizamo, Jim Carrey, Augustus Prew, Garrett M. Brown, Iain Glen, Lindy Booth, Robert Emms, Steven Mackintosh, Monica Dolan, Andy Nyman, Daniel Kaluuya, Tom Wu, Lyndsy Fonseca, Olga Kurkulina, Yancy Butler, Claudia Lee, Benedict Wong

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Synopsis


Kick-Ass 2 finds Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) in a semi-satisfied retirement from his Kick-Ass days. He's got a girlfriend even but the life of a regular high-schooler is just boring. His boredom motivates him to seek out Mindy Macready/Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) for some "hero training." I mean honestly, Kick-Ass spent a lot of his time getting his own ass kicked so it's something he sorely needed. He ends up joining a group of do-gooders while his arch-nemesis who used to be Red Mist, now dubbed the Motherfucker (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is out for revenge still.

Review


Kick-Ass 2 like its predecessor tries to strike a balanced combo between action and humour, but this time around most of the humour falls decidedly flat. So many of the jokes feel very juvenile and shouldn't have any place in any kind of respectable movie. I'm talking about Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer-type body humour jokes which don't have any place in any kind of movie.

Not all of the jokes are awful because there were a few times where I chuckled. Jim Carrey isn't really given much of a chance to flex his comedic muscle since he doesn't have a whole bunch of screen time. Christopher Mintz-Plasse on the other hand is given the most time to shine in the humour department but he's saddled with some pretty bad dialogue. The dialogue just like the humour feels juvenile which is disappointing considering that Kick-Ass was really good at pushing the envelope in that department. Kick-Ass 2 just feels lazy and uninspired.

In terms of the action, results are pretty middling as well. Early fights use way too much shaky cam which I see as an attempt to mask what would be a pretty boring fight if it were captured without any tricks. Cuts are quick and hectic but there's no excitement and there seem to be some inconsistencies in terms of where characters are during their fights. They'll be in one place and then in another when there is no way that could've happened.

There's also an over-reliance on CGI for blood and a chase involving Hit-Girl on a van. Hit-Girl finds herself on the roof of a moving van with a green screen to give the illusion that the van is moving. Kick-Ass 2's $28 million budget becomes painfully obvious here. There are a few other moments of bad CGI but nothing as blatant as the van scene.

Mother Russia who is played by female bodybuilder Olga Kurkulina is pretty intense and she delivers for the most part. The best opportunity here is a fight between her and Hit-Girl but the payoff isn't there which is a shame.

There's also a half-assed attempt at including some coming-of-age type storyline for Mindy Macready. She promises her guardian Marcus Williams (Morris Chestnut) who was a friend of her dad's not to go out as Hit-Girl anymore. She gets involved with a group of popular girls who then try to groom her in their ways. The whole thing just feels like a wannabe Mean Girls copy and the way in which this crisis gets resolved is not only a cop-out but is related to my disgust at the body humour material in Kick-Ass 2.

Chloë Grace Moretz does do a pretty good job all the same at playing her character. Also, props to Morris Chestnut always having that perfect goatee in every single movie that he appears in. If anyone knows a movie where he doesn't have his trademark goatee, let me know.

Kick-Ass 2 has simply squandered the goodwill of its predecessor. It's not an awful, unwatchable movie but it's an incredibly disappointing one. Most of the blame I believe has to be on the script. Matthew Vaughn was one of the writers for the Kick-Ass script but is absent this time around. He was there as producer but clearly that wasn't enough because I think his touch was missing from the script. The material is lacking and the direction fails to deliver any real convincing action scenes. There are some good moments from time to time but hopefully if there is a Kick-Ass 3, it can deliver the whole package.

Rating


5.5/10