Kick-Ass 2, which floated around for a time under the amusing title of Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall, is a sequel where most of the original cast (at least those who were not killed off) have been reunited. Following the release of the film, Mark Millar released a five-issue follow-up comic-book Kick-Ass 2 (2010-2), as well as a five-issue spinoff Hit Girl (2012-3) that bridges the two sagas, and subsequently Kick-Ass 3 (2013-4). The script is directly adapted from Mark Millars Kick-Ass 2, although does make some substantial changes to it, such as rerouting continuity to fit in with the changes the first film made. Matthew Vaughn was slated to return but eventually dropped out of directing and the new director is the largely unknown Jeff Wadlow who had previously made the fine slasher film Cry Wolf (2005).
I went into Kick-Ass 2 with so-so expectations and ended up being surprised. In fact, I would have to go as far as to say that I preferred Kick-Ass 2 to the first film. (Quentin Tarantino did too and named it one of his best films of the year). For one, this is a sequel that doesnt simply conduct a repeat of the first film but turns the principal characters upside down, while expanding their stories considerably. We see Dave undergoing training to actually learn how to fight, while joining a group of others that have taken up the costumed cause. (This is a film very much made with an awareness of the real-life superhero movement as featured in Superheroes). Dave even gets to engage in a romance (all masked). Some of the funniest scenes are watching punk-ass Christopher Mintz-Plasse don his mothers bondage gear to become The Mother Fucker, or trying to learn to fight before deciding his superpower will be his money and then setting out to build a super-villain team, replete with headquarters in a warehouse that has a shark in a tank.
As before, the show is entirely taken over with a winning performance from Chloe Grace Moretz. She has the most substantial character arc, even gets to discover glimmerings of sexual desire. The most fun scenes are those where her guardian Morris Chestnut decides that she should be made over into a normal teenage girl and introduces her to a cliquey group. This comes with some deliciously sardonic lines Id rather by waterboarded than listen to Justin Bieber. The arc that she undergoes here is not unakin to the one that Christina Riccis Wednesday was put through in Addams Family Values (1993) and the amusing horrors of seeing her being forced to conform the scene where she delivers a biting riposte to the head bitch and then gets her comeuppance with the Sick Stick is a side-splitting show capper.
Like the first film, Kick-Ass 2 seems caught in a moral grey zone between deflating the superhero and creating its own comic-book fantasy of ultra-violence. To this extent, there are times that it undeniably errs on the side of the pure fantasy rather than realism. Some of Hit Girls martial arts moves are hard to believe, particularly a kinetic sequence with her avoiding hoods shooting at her around the side of a van, while a scene where the Amazonian Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina) eliminates an entire suburban street of armed cop cars seems to fall far too much into the realm of being a complete action-movie fantasy. On the other hand, I very much enjoyed Jeff Wadlows script for the dexterity of its constant play between reality and fantasy, the cleverness of the use of the superhero and mask as metaphor and the way these are constantly wound back into the script.
(Nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay, Nominee for Best Actress (Chloe Grace Moretz) at this sites Best of 2013 Awards).