2010’s Kick-Ass was superb. It stood out as a gloriously effective, but affectionate, parody of the 21st century superhero craze and introduced the world to some of the most well-loved cult characters of recent times. Its enthusiasm was infectious and its thrills unavoidable.
But, as much as it pains me to say it, Kick-Ass 2 is none of the above.
Gone are the killer writing team of Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn and in their place is Jeff Wadlow (writer & director) who, on this evidence, has absolutely no grasp of teenage life. His idea of 15 year-old high school girls is straight out of Mean Girls . . . no wait, Mean Girls 2 . . . oh, screw it, ‘Mean Girls 3’*. It’s hopelessly derivative, mind-numbingly dull and downright nasty, at times.
And then there’s the violence . . .
Looked at objectively, there’s probably little difference between the levels of violence in the two movies. But that’s the point; violence should never be looked at objectively. It should be fuelled by an emotional engagement with the characters, it should mean something and it should be treated with respect. Wadlow does none of the above. Every bloody splatter is noticeable and, whereas the violence in the first film was joyous (even if you felt hopelessly guilty afterwards), the gore in this sequel is foul. Don't listen to a word these crackpots say, there are no consequences, there are no morals, there’s just pure smut.
And, to add insult to grevious injury, the whole thing is shoddily put together. The action scenes and the garish palette are vomit-inducing and the visual effects budget is abused.
But surely all this depravity can’t all stem from a single person? It must be noted that Wadlow’s screenplay is an adaptation and, while I haven’t read Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. source material, it must share the bulk of the filth. But, whereas you can quite easily skip over distasteful content in a comic book, the same can’t be said for a movie.
From one of my favourite films of all time to one of my least, Kick Ass 2 is a hate-fuelled exercise in populist shock tactics.
*not a real movie . . . but if it was, it would be a whole lot better than this.