The super-sequel has lashings of violence and profane dialogue but lacks the heart of the original
Like an obnoxious younger brother, Kick-Ass 2 arrives wanting to outdo its older sibling – Matthew Vaughn’s surprise 2010 hit about teenage vigilantes. Again using Mark Millar’s comic as the template, with the shock factor of the original now spent, it seems the only way for this sequel to one-up its predecessor is to offer more violence and profane dialogue – lashings of it.
Some of this works, notably with Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s character. Desperate to avenge his father’s death, murdered with a bazooka by our wetsuit-sporting hero Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) in the finale of the original, he reinvents himself as a fetish gear-wearing super-villain, The Motherfucker. There’s something almost Dr Evil-like about Mintz-Plasse’s baddie, not least when he builds an evil lair with a dormant shark in a tank.
Less successful are the scenes with Kick-Ass’ ally Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz), also nursing the loss of her father and now trying to navigate high school. An early moment where she watches real-life boy band Union J and gets all hot and bothered is amusing, but a gross-out sequence as she takes revenge on bitchy mean girls seems better placed in American Pie.
Also wasted is Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes, the ex-mobster turned leader of Justice Forever, a vigilante team that Kick-Ass joins to fight crime. But if incoming writer-director Jeff Wadlow blows his A-list attraction, he sure knows how to stage some wince-inducing fights. Eyes, feet, shoulders, throats and scrotums all get punctured, as everything from glass shards to lawnmowers become weapons.
There is some humour buried in there – like Taylor-Johnson’s T-shirt which reads ‘I Hate Reboots’ and the foul-mouthed Hit Girl’s swear-jar. But while it pings the coming-of-age tropes well enough, Kick-Ass 2 doesn’t quite have the heart of the original. Just a lot of blood, guts and (very) rude words.
General release from Wed 14 Aug.