Sunday, 1 September 2013

Kick Ass 2

Guilty pleasure time: I loved Kick Ass. In this era of underwhelming, special effects laden and character-light superhero movies, it was a breath of fresh air. It was both tremendous (and spectacularly violent) fun and emotionally satisfying. Actions had consequences, and we saw a cast of characters grow over the course of the two hours.

Fine, it wasn't the most mature of films, with a fine line in crass teenage humour and exceptionally bad language to go with the gore-saturated action sequences. But it was tremendous entertainment, and there was a number of scenes which took the film to the next level. As cinema experiences go, it was one of my most enjoyable.

Roll on three years and we come to the sequel. Which is good. Very good. It's still got the mix of violence, bad language, and tasteless humour combined with real consequences for real characters that made the first work almost as an anti-superhero film.

Time has moved on. Hit Girl/Mindy McCready (Chloe Moretz), the potty-mouthed teenage superhero is trying to accustom herself to regular teenage life. Kick Ass/Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) gets involved with a clique of wannabe-superheroes led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). Meanwhile, rich kid Chris D'amico, defeated in the first film, becomes the world's first supervillain, calling himself... erm... The Motherf**ker, after managing to accidentally kill his mother in a sunbed incident and discovering a collection of her whips and chains.

What impressed me was how the characters were handled. Hit Girl in particular was developed into a much more rounded character. It would have been easy to make her a 'normal' teenage girl and reduce her character to a cardboard cut-out, but this wasn't allowed to happen, not least because of the excellent performance of Moretz. Indeed, all the characters were more human than in the first outing, although the film lacked a brooding presence - Jim Carrey was excellent as Colonel Stars and Stripes, but Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) was sorely missed by more than just the grieving Hit Girl.

The action - oh, the action. Gratuitous violence on gratuitous violence. Thinking back to Kick Ass, the action there was more finessed and imaginative than in its sequel (Hit Girl skewering a minion's hand on a grappling line, then using that to make the minion shoot himself is never repeated, with the violence being of a more conventional variety). As ever, the violence is played for laughs rather than seriously. Unfortunately this leads to one scenario where an event isn't treated with the appropriate gravity, sucking much of the fun out of the film for a few moments.

But is it worth seeing? If you're not averse to extreme (comic) violence and tasteless language and humour, I can recommend it. But be warned: Kick Ass 2 is not for the faint-hearted or easily offended.