With run of the mill action sequences and some bad jokes, Kick Ass-2 doesn't live up to the expectation, writes Raja Sen.
We all have our vigilante moments. We wish we could don a costume, hide behind a clever (or, at the very least, catchy) alter ego, and set about meting out justice: to the irritating boss, the wayward car in front that keeps changing lanes, moronic politicians… And the list goes on. Well, mine includes significant ire aimed squarely at movies. At harebrained sequels. At bad reboots. At unwanted remakes. At anything starring Kirsten Dunst.
You get my drift. A movie about a normal guy choosing to make himself a superhero? I’m there.
And indeed I was. I loved the first Kick-Ass back in 2010. I loved it to bits. It was unique and shocking and clever and ultra violent and self-deprecatory and sharp and insightful and made with so much bloody style. The characters rocked, the perfect actors were in the best roles — especially Nicolas Cage, Chloe Moretz and Mark Strong — the dialogues were zingers, the soundtrack was ridiculously fun. It’s not just a good ride, it’s a quotable good movie, with great setpieces. I still say “Good call, baby doll” whenever I can, in my best Big Daddy voice.
Also, impressively enough for a gory actioner, the high-drama bits were evocative. It bloody hurt when Big Daddy died. And one of the coolest uses of music in a recent mainstream fight scene came with the Kick-Ass climax, where a live version of Elvis Presley’s American Trilogy was used; not just does Presley hit it out of the park, but because it’s live, the song ends with applause that’s left in the film as the hero wins the day. It’s just all very grin-worthy. Oh, and Hit Girl? Hit Girl is simply the coolest big-screen superheroine ever. Ever.
With characters this memorable, I thought a sequel was a good idea. All the actors returning, plus original comic book creator Mark Millar. And where the first film had Nicolas Cage, the trailers for this one showed a demented Jim Carrey, fresh from his exceptional turn in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. It all looked promising, except… Except Matthew Vaughn wasn’t directing this time. And clearly that made all the difference in the world. Kick-Ass 2 is a travesty. The lines are obvious. The fight scenes are generic. There is no wit. There are no smarts. Jim Carrey is great, but has three scenes. All it has in its favour is Chloe Moretz, who is fantastic as a rule, no matter how bad the movie may be.
Last time a young man, the titular Kick-Ass, trained himself, got broken and beaten and earned his right to be a hero. In the new film, anyone with a costume is out being a vigilante. The climactic fight, then, is like one big cosplay brouhaha. The hero’s uninteresting, the villain is a bad joke — who hits rock-bottom with an awful rape joke, which in itself makes this a bad film — and the rest of the film has, in the name of Nolan-loving darkness, lots of death. But none of it counts. Not even when a character with immense potential is beheaded. Lyndsy Fonseca, who played the hero’s girl in the first film, is shoved away here with one line calculated to make her unlikeable.
The jokes are amateurishly bad. “You guys love this sh*t more than fanboys love Stan Lee,” says Moretz to a gaggle of schoolgirls, but to be fair fanboys don’t worship Stan Lee like they used to. Say Jack Kirby or Alan Moore or even Frank goddamned Miller and we’ll at least halfway believe you came from a comic book, you pretender movie you. As said, Moretz — who looks at villains who strike her with an irresistibly indignant expression — has her moments, including an entire arc devoted to her trying to fit in with the girls at high school, a section that resembles Heathers and Mean Girls and ends up sloppier — and in much worse taste — than any self-respecting retread of those iconic films. Think an Easy C-minus.
If you liked the first, go ahead and pretend this one doesn’t exist. It’s what Big Daddy would do.