‘Kick-Ass 2’ (2013): Too much Ass, not enough Kick.

18 Aug

Kick-Ass 2 posterIf the original Kick-Ass was the perfect blend of extreme comic book violence with awkward teenage humour, then its follow-up is what happens when a different director takes the reigns, adds nauseatingly gratuitous shaky cam, several framed pictures of Nicholas Cage and a below-par Mean Girls subplot. While newcomer Jeff Wadlow is not exactly inexperienced (his directorial curriculum vitae includes Never Back Down and Cry_Wolf), as he is also head writer of the whole shabang the blame lies entirely with him for the litany of problems that plague Kick-Ass 2.

Set in the aftermath of its predecessor, Kick-Ass 2 again revolves around title star Dave Lizewski, aka Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), though this time Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) plays a much bigger part. Tracking their parallel lives in the build up to a rather explosive final act, the movie is essentially two intertwining storylines: Kick-Ass’s return to fighting crime through an Avengers-like consortium of “superheroes” (led by Colonel Stars And Stripes, or Jim Carrey), and Hit-Girl’s descent into high-school cliquery in an effort to leave her darker, more awesome life behind. But soon a new foe, The Motherfucker, rears his unimposing head, and they must unite once again.

Inconsistencies of tone plague this film like something from the middle-ages. Wadlow very unartfully juxtaposes the 14 year-old toilet humour (mass puking, bathroom sex etc.) with eye-gouging and hand-severing, but his worst crime is the injection of a tired and shockingly out of place school drama. Riddled with post-Mean Girls cliché and featuring a stomach-churning Union J cameo, it’s near total anathema to the outstanding and random violence, which the director juggles with about as much skill and talent as a double-arm amputee trying to do so with his head. On a treadmill.

Although Kick-Ass's character graces the title, this movie really focuses on Hit-Girl.

Although Kick-Ass’s character graces the title, this movie really focuses on Hit-Girl.

All of this could be forgiven if the film was fun, but it’s simply not. Aside from several goofy moments involving Jim Carrey (whom I only recognised through a mental process of cast elimination; he looks so different), the verve and panache of Kick-Ass’s first adventure has been surgically removed by Wadlow. The action sequences, which are probably very well choreographed, are near-totally obscured by the cameraman having some sort of medical episode; he may as well twirl the damn thing on a rope. Extreme violence endeavours to ape the provocative and audacious nature of its precursor, but in the end Kick-Ass 2 is ugly and kind of stupid.

This movie left a fist imprint on my face. Not from assault, but from my dedicated struggle to stay awake. The last twenty minutes are fun, but it’s too little too late. The performances are all great, but it’s too tonally confusing and nonsensical to take seriously.

Simon says: I was promised ass-kicking, not ass-scratching. Lazy.

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