Kick-Ass 2: More of the Same, but That’s a Good Thing

I know Dukemich usually handles the reviews here at Cup of Joe, but since he didn’t see Kick-Ass 2, I’ll offer a review:

I’ve encountered a lot of hate against the Kick-Ass franchise, particularly the sequel, on the interwebs, as well as some diametrically opposed glowing praise. It seems to epitomize the idea of “hate it or love it.” So let me begin by saying that I loved the first film. It was (often darkly) funny,  had great action sequences, entertaining characters and a very interesting world that begged for expansion. Despite a so-so run at the box office, a sequel was green-lit. If the critical reception and box office performance have been any indication, going ahead with a sequel was not the best idea. So, what are my thoughts?

Kick-Ass 2 was basically everything I would’ve wanted. It had that same dark, absurdist humor, gratuitous violence, hilarious profanity, and gleefully over-the-top style that made the first entry so special and entertaining. If you liked the first Kick-Ass, I have a hard time thinking that you wouldn’t enjoy the second. I had a really good time in the theatre. I laughed. I was awed by some fight scenes. And, at times, I was even a tad disturbed. But in a good way.

The thing about the first Kick-Ass is that it started out as basically a deconstruction of superhero movies, showing what would really happen if somebody tried it. Then about half-way through, it switches into a reconstruction and finishes with a great, action-packed climax. Kick-Ass 2 continues that progression, and yeah sure, it loses some realism along the way. I can understand why some audiences would dislike that, but that reconstruction was the point. As Kick-Ass himself says, “There’s no room for punks in suits. Just real heroes who can really kick ass.”

Though it does somewhat lack in the realism department, Kick-Ass 2 isn’t just some crazy, nonstop action flick. It actually does still veer into some deconstructive territory, particularly with the character of Hit-Girl. Furthermore, the film is somewhat methodical, showing Hit Girl battling doubt and identify issues for the better part of the movie. This helps humanize her and add some welcome character development. Sure, some of the shock value from Hit Girl’s potty mouth is lost this time, both because it’s been done before and the actress, Chloe Moretz, isn’t quite so young this time, but Hit Girl still remains perhaps the best character in the franchise.

Another thing that I liked is that the emergence of heroes in masks brings about the appearance of villains in masks, which makes sense in this universe. There’s a whole theme of escalation through the film, and the heroes question if they’ve just made things worse by in some ways creating the villains. Christopher Mintz-Plasse does very well as a supervillain whose very name is too obscene for Cup of Joe. But his subordinate Mother Russia ends up stealing the show, her very presence making the entire film darker and more serious. She also has a fantastic showdown with Hit Girl at the climax of the movie.

In a lot of ways, Kick-Ass 2 is more about Hit Girl than its titular character, but that’s not a bad thing. Kick-Ass already went through most of his character development in the first film, though that’s not to say he’s a static character this time around. Aaron Taylor-Johnson once again does very well in the title role, as Kick-Ass develops into a real hero throughout the film. It’s interesting that Kick-Ass 2 is in some ways a character study, and it doesn’t lack depth. Yeah, sure, there are plenty of ridiculous scenes, some cringe-worthy, but it’s all in good fun, but this is not a mindless film. It knows what it is, and it does it well.

As I’ve said, Kick-Ass 2 does get dark at times. It more than earns its R rating. Then again, it’s actually less cynical than the source comic book. But that’s neither here nor there. I’ve tried not to spoil too many plot details (I think I failed, but whatever), but seriously, if you liked the first Kick-Ass, give this one a try. And you might want to hurry up, because it probably won’t be in theatres much longer. All in all, I give Kick-Ass 2 a solid 3.5 cups.

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