It was in 1986 that It Bites sang Calling All The Heroes, and although it took Hollywood time to catch up, they have spent the last ten years sending us every one of them en masse. With Marvel’s Avengers series in full flight and DC supposedly gearing up for a Justice League series, everyone appears keen to team up their superheroes, and Kick-Ass 2 is no exception, Kick-Ass joining a band of would-be heroes just in time to go up against New York city’s biggest threat as the self-proclaimed “world’s first supervillain” threatens to destroy everything in his way in the quest for vengeance.
Set directly after the events of the first film, the story picks up with Hit-Girl Mindy Macready (played by Chloë Grace Moretz of Let Me In and the upcoming Carrie remake) under the care of her dad’s former partner Marcus and enrolled in the same school as Kick-Ass himself, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), both looking to settle into “normal” high-school lives with regular issues like dating, popularity and curfews, as opposed to villains and ammunition depletion.
Yet despite the secret keeping them isolated from their friends and peers at school, they are not alone; inspired by Kick-Ass, a new slew of heroes have taken to the streets to make a difference. After meeting one such hero, Doctor Gravity (Scrubs’ Donald Faison), Dave is introduced to Justice Forever, led by Jim Carrey’s born again Christian vigilante Colonel Stars and Stripes.
Whilst Dave succumbs to the intoxication of celebrity and Mindy struggles with her identity as Hit-Girl, Red Mist is reborn as the Motherfucker, putting together a colourful team of henchmen in his quest for revenge on Kick-Ass, who killed his father at the conclusion of the first film.
Behind the camera director Jeff Wadlow replaces Matthew Vaughan, though the latter remains on board as producer, though with the exception Augustus Prew playing Dave’s friend Todd due to Evan Peters’ commitment to American Horror Story, the majority of the cast remain the same. Wadlow makes no attempt to make the brand his own, rather choosing to recreate the style of the first film as much as possible, though wisely the story has moved forward in the lives of both Dave and Mindy.
Both leads are growing into their roles, and great support comes from Jim Carrey, more sedate than his hammy Riddler in Batman Forever, John Leguizamo as the Motherfucker’s associate Javier and Morris Chestnut as Mindy’s legal guardian Marcus.
Strong performances and themes of identity and consequence balance nicely against the schlock cartoonish violence and crude humour to make a more than enjoyable movie. For geeks there are plenty of easter eggs, from Dave’s “I hate reboots” t-shirt to Mindy’s Sucker Punch homage during dance auditions, and a wonderful punk-pop remix of the Tetris theme when Mother Russia takes on a small battalion of cops in suburban New York.
When Jim Carrey attempted to distance himself from the movie, it could be taken by the more cynical as a clever marketing ploy, with a target demographic of teenage boys; his statement on the level of gratuitous violence in the film certainly drove up interest and filled gossip columns in the lead up to the release. Certainly the violence is in some parts over the top, but in such a style that it pales compared to many more serious films of a similar rating.
At 103 minutes it certainly paces itself well compared to a lot of other “supposed” blockbusters released this year, and never feels slow or boring. With minimal CGI, this film certainly relies more on the characters and their relationships and banter than the action it has been hyped for.
The key relationship between Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass takes on multiple layers as the film progresses, their need for each other, the sexual undertones in Mindy’s adolescence and possible attraction, and their identities becoming confused when mixed with the remorse of losing parental figures. How they deal with the consequences of their choices show how they see each other and battle with choosing which life is their true calling.
We are also introduced to a new love interest in the form of Night Bitch, another new vigilante who is instantly drawn to Kick Ass, and played in a very Harley Quinn manner by Lindy Booth, best known as Claudia in Relic Hunter. The other side of the coin sees Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Motherfucker assuming the role of head of the family business, and the consequences of his decisions. In true bad guy style, he is indulged in having the best lines and delivers them with effectively.
Fans of the original will be happy with the direction of the film, and whilst some of the comic book fans may not be happy with the transition from print to screen, it is one of the more enjoyable movies of the summer, if for nothing else than Chloë Grace Moretz competing against Christopher Mintz-Plasse for the most scene-stealing performance.