Kick-Ass 2 – Subversive
*Caution, there might be some naughty language in this review*
Before I start this review, I’d like to begin with a story; Normally, I don’t like hearing kids in movies, and as a personal preference, kids shouldn’t be attending films meant for adults in a movie theater setting. I have nothing against kids watching R-rated films, just make sure they shut up and don’t talk while I’m trying to enjoy the film. Anyway, while watching “Kick-Ass 2” this past weekend, the film I’ll start reviewing in a minute, there was a scene where, spoiler alert, a box is dropped to reveal a stash of S&M gear, including a set of anal beads. Now, imagine being the parent(s) of the child that you brought into “Kick-Ass 2” only to be asked in the middle of film “What are those?” That kid is a winner in my book, whereas the parents as losers and got exactly what they deserved.
Anyways, “Kick-Ass 2,” the follow-up to the 2010 cult hit, has some hits and misses, and decides that it wants to be as subversive as possible, which somewhat robs it from whatever charm that it could have had. I agree with numerous other reviews that I’ve come across and yes, it’s not as good as the first film, but how many sequels are, just watch the sequel conversation from “Scream 2” and you’ll get your answer.
Once again we follow Dave and Mindy, Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl, respectively, still fighting crime in New York. Now living with her murdered father’s friend, Marcus, Mindy is being forced into living a quiet life free of Hit-Girl. Dave, on the other hand, is still fighting the good fight with a new group of super-heroes calling themselves “Justice Forever,” including Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey) and Dr. Gravity (Donald Faison). Meanwhile, still sore about his father’s death, Chris D’Amico takes up the mantle of the city’s first supervillain “The Mother Fucker,” and begins recruiting a team of super-villains, aptly calling themselves, “The Toxic Mega-Cunts,” to destroy Kick-Ass.
Now, if you thought the first “Kick-Ass” was subversive, and off the wall, “Kick-Ass 2” has it beat. What I couldn’t help noticing is all the talk about pedophiles and an extreme undercurrent of sexual tension between Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl, which gives their relationship a certain element of creepiness. I understand the idea behind their relationship; Dave’s mother is dead and Mindy’s father died in front of her, so each character is seeking that additional parental figure, and not being a reader of the comic, perhaps this is expounded upon more in the books. The film also features attempted rape, multiple cop killings, and plenty of jail-bait “mean girls.” The film goes for an extra squirm factor this time around, and it makes “Kick-Ass 2” come off as cheap more often than not.
What made “Kick-Ass” work was the way it made superheroes seem real. They bled, had their bones broken, shoot, Kick-Ass was banging his girlfriend on a motorcycle at one point. Would Batman do that; probably not, but would a super-hero without much discipline do that; hell yes they would! “Kick-Ass 2” expands on the idea that anyone can be a hero, even two parents that are just looking for their lost son. The other element that worked for the first film was it’s inclusion of the social media. With social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, expanding exponentially since 2010, the use of social media for the sequel is more gimmicky and doesn’t add as much to the progression of the plot. It almost seems like a cash-in for the sequel where Facebook or Twitter adds another zero to the bottom line every time a character mentions “The Mother Fucker just posted this on his Twitter account!”
Could Matthew Vaughn have done a better job as the helmer of “Kick-Ass 2” as opposed to Jeff Wadlow, who’s claim to fame was the underwhelming “Scream” knock-off “Cry_Wolf?” I’d go out on a limb and say yes. A director with a pedigree like Vaughn could have reigned in the insanity and given the film a more polished look. Not that I’m knocking Wadlow, he did an admirable job in the director chair, but the film’s reliance on CG and some shaky camera work during some of the fight scenes, made me realize that he’s no Matthew Vaughn. “Kick-Ass 2” gets the job done if you want to see how far a superhero film will go as far as violence and gore, but when a film tries so hard to go as far as it can, shock just to shock, gross out just to gross out, the magic of the film gets lost and you’re left with kids in the theater asking what anal beads are.
Fun Fact: Colonel Stars and Stripes from the film is actually a combination of two characters from the “Kick-Ass” comics. Colonel Stars and Lieutenant Stripes, both ex-Mafia enforcers.