Kick-Ass 2 (2013)
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey
Plot: The costumed high-school hero Kick-Ass joins with a group of normal citizens who have been inspired to fight crime in costume. Meanwhile, the Red Mist plots an act of revenge that will affect everyone Kick-Ass knows.
Genre: Action / Comedy / Crime
Rating: M18 for strong violence, pervasive language, crude and sexual content, and brief nudity.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
“I try to have fun. Otherwise, what's the point?”
Kick-Ass (2010) reveled in the popularity of the superhero genre, often questioning the idealism of being a hero and portraying the hard-hitting reality of being one. It was compulsively watchable, violent and vulgar when it needed to be, and was refreshing even as it recycled genre tropes for a primarily adult audience.
Kick-Ass 2, with a new director on board, is a different buttock altogether: it is a stinky one, with scant hope of ever being cleansed. In the long line of sequels, this is one of the most disappointing efforts ever. It is also a reprehensible film in many ways, in particular its treatment of violence.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz reprise the roles of Kick-Ass and Hitgirl respectively. They give up their heroic endeavours for a quiet life as high-school students. But bad things happen in the city, which are the brainchild of a revenge-seeking Red Mist (but now rebranded as The Motherf----) who wants to be the world's first supervillain, and who has a sickly grudge on Kick-Ass.
The film works out in a very black-is-black, white-is-white way. The good versus evil trope is treated in the most simplistic of fashions, and often the film feels too patchy to even be regarded as borderline entertaining.
I don't see entertainment in gratuitous violence, especially if the context is not right. In one scene, Hitgirl slices off the hand of a street hooligan. In another, an evil person singlehandedly kills policemen in various cruel ways. The excessive bloody violence is trivialized in the name of 'fun', and in the context of the sequel which doesn't quite care about story and character, what does it all amount to?
As a counterpoint, let me bring in Only God Forgives (2013), a film I reviewed prior to Kick-Ass 2. By most standards, Only God Forgives is extremely violent, but it is not nonchalant about its treatment even if the characters are seemingly nonchalant about the way they inflict harm on others.
Only God Forgives can be defended on the grounds of tone, theme, context and artistic sensibilities, but Kick-Ass 2 doesn't present itself as redeemable in those ways. As much as I want to defend this movie by not taking it too seriously, I have to agree with Jim Carrey (who stars in the film) when he attempted to disassociate himself with it.
Kick-Ass was not lacking in quality and was well-put and thought out, but the sequel takes a turn into the alley of trivial violence, utter crassness and uninspiring plotting. All that points to large signboard with blinking lights that says: STAY AWAY.
GRADE: F (4/10 or 1.5 stars)
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