Doused in irreverence, sharp wit and an eye for the frankly insane, 2010’s Kick-Ass was a sleeper hit, a light hearted remedy to the likes of the mind fucking provided by Shutter Island, the intensity of The Social Network and the disappointing Iron Man 2. Matthew Vaughn’s film was a fresh take on a genre that dominates the contemporary film industry. Now, three years on, Kick-Ass 2 exists. Before proceedings even begin at the screening, the very necessity of this sequel is questionable. Kick-Ass was essentially a statement and a deviation from the norm, so what does Kick-Ass 2 have to say for itself? Can it justify its own being?
No, it can’t, and what a feeble attempt it makes. This can largely be put down to a change of director and certain crew members, who are tasked with taking on a story that has many of the bricks needed to build a house, but no cement. Take one line of dialogue from the opening section of the film, in which The Motherfucker’s er, mother, says to him “that’s why we moved to Long Island after your dad died.” In the script writing world, this is suicide and in the audience world, this is offensive. How dumb do the filmmakers think their audience is here? This seems very petty, picking out a single line of dialogue for being obvious but, unfortunately, that line is indicative of the whole film. Following The Motherfucker’s heated exchange with his er, mother, during this scene, she goes for a whirl on the sun bed and is accidentally killed by her petulant son (via kicking the sun bed, presumably after injecting donkey testosterone into his right calf). It descends further, with the bodyguard making a “your mother’s got a great pair of guns” gag that can be seen from a mile off.
Sadly, it gets worse. Kick-Ass and Hit Girl now bunk off school together to hit the gym and form some kind of quasi-relationship (which, quite frankly, is a little disturbing). That is until Hit Girl is forced to sack the superhero shit and grow up like a real girl should. This is where it gets really fucking dire. Hit Girl’s narrative thread goes all Mean Girls as she gets in with a bitchy group of pubescent girls, cue a cheerleading try out in which Brooke (one of the bitchy girls) performs a promiscuous dance that prompts a few guys in the audience to share a pretty cynical look at each other. Why is it cynical, you ask? I’m sure the actress is old enough, you say. Regardless of how old the actress is, the character in this film is a 9th grader. She’s 14 or 15. Remember that scene in American Beauty, in which Lester Burnham first becomes transfixed with Angela Hayes during her dance routine? It felt like that, except she was on the screen and I was trapped in a room full of Lester Burnhams. A sleepover follows, complete with a Union J (of X Factor ‘fame’) endorsement and Hit Girl threatening to “jam my foot up your snatch”. The audience in the theatre laughed at this little quip as if it hadn’t been written by a grown man, probably with kids of his own. The whole Mean Girls sub-plot culminates in Hit Girl walking into the school canteen. She’s all dolled up in a manner that gets all the Lester Burnhams frothing at the mouth and she’s armed with a walkie talkie. Oh wait no it’s a poo stick. Sorry, let me explain, she’s got a thing that she can zap people with. When she zaps them, they instantly start projectile vomiting and shitting themselves like, really badly. Rapturous laughter follows and I’m left with a feeling of utter shame that I’m sat in a room with people who are laughing at a 14/15 year old girl bent over, hurling vomit whilst CGI shit bellows from her rear. Distasteful doesn’t even come close to describing this scene.
Meanwhile then, Kick-Ass is roaming the streets with a gang of nutters that includes Turk from Scrubs and Jim Carrey pretending to be a character from The Expendables, whilst The Motherfucker assembles his bunch of psychopaths whom he lovingly calls ‘The Toxic Mega Cunts’ (apologies for the C word, just quoting). The Motherfucker, as a character, is designed to be naive, rash and petulant. It works fine in the first film as he doesn’t have the resources to be a true threat. What has happened here though is a complete misreading of character and something that is altogether quite nasty. He names his cronies by way of racial stereotyping which, whether pointed out by another character or not, is still racist and still not funny. Neither is descending on a funeral with an absolutely manic array of arms, which only serves to inadvertently bring to mind American gun laws before jumping head first into the climactic part of the film, despite the feeling that nothing has actually happened so far. The climax is a stand off between the good guys and the bad guys. Like the rest of the film, it’s directed appallingly. Jeff Wadlow and co. must have been nervous as shit when making this film because every time something interesting happens, the camera just cannot keep still. The action scenes all feel like someone has put a Go Pro in a washing machine full of toys and mini weapons. Comprehension of what is actually going on is impossible and, due to a severe lack of sensible pacing, doesn’t seem to matter all that much either.
Kick-Ass 2 then is limp. It’s also crass to an offensive extent, leading to a seriously sour taste once it’s over. What it all boils down to is a gross misreading of the source material and even more gross interpretations of the themes and tonal qualities that the first instalment portrayed so well. By misinterpreting what the first film did so well, the filmmakers have created a work of utter displeasure from start to finish. It’s one of those films that just needs forgetting about, unless you’re Lester Burnham, in which case pre-order the DVD now and don’t tell your wife.