It was well before kick-off when Jim Carey took to Twitter to rule himself out if this one, reasoning that he could no longer promote a film as violent and trigger-happy as Jeff Wadlow’s follow-up to Matthew Vaughn’s wonderfully brazen original. Happily for him, and sadly for the rest of us, it may have been an astute decision on his part to disassociate himself everything that follows. Though his role in Kick Ass 2 is by no means the largest, Carrey may have made a telling contribution to the narrative by spotting the oncoming iceberg.
Wadlow takes on both the writing and directing duties here and you can’t help but feel he’s bitten of a touch more than he can chew. Whilst it’s not without a certain vulgar charm, Kick Ass 2 lacks the anarchic wit and sense of fun its predecessor had in spades.
It’s a breathless opening movement, flying past like a third-act montage, which sees the freshly retired Kick Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) don the neoprene suit once again as the hero bug begins to bite. He gets himself back in the game by commissioning the tutelage of Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), who obliges, then promptly hangs up her own mask and leaves him to it. Taking to the street, Kick Ass is joined by a cohort of superhero partners (including Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes) inspired by his antics; whilst Hit Girl takes leave of the vigilante scene to do a spot of growing up, wandering onto the set of Mean Girls as she does so. Meanwhile Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) – still seething from the death of his crime lord father – has rebranded as The Motherfucker and vows revenge on Kick Ass, enlisting his own gaggle of villains and raising holy hell.
There’s a distinct lack of narrative focus at work here. What begins as a bona fide Hit Girl movie slowly morphs into a Kick Ass and chums flick before eventually ending in the sort of messily clichéd free-for-all the first Kick Ass sought to distance itself from.
Wadlow’s style adds little to the mix, with an over reliance on the shaky can which leaves the action scenes resembling some harrowingly gory Jason Bourne-luchadore mashup.
The decision to inject a frisson of sexuality into Hit Girl’s make-up seems like an unwise decision, and for the second time in a summer I find myself dumbstruck by a film which plays its rape scene for giggles.
If we’re going to get a third installment in this controversial franchise, and well we might, here’s hoping someone irons out the creases in the costume first.