Kick-Ass 2 – What We Learned

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It’s bloody! It’s sweary! It’s choke-on-your-popcorn-and-asphyxiate funny!

Kick-Ass 2 is one of the films of the summer. Sharply written, clever and subversive, it begins by living up to its predecessor, then rides its brilliant concept as hard and as fast as it’ll go.

This time around – with Jim Carrey magnificently in tow – Kick-Ass and Hit Girl taught us plenty.


Hands down: there isn’t a cooler, sharper, sweary-er actress in the Hollywood pipeline.

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16-year-old Moretz accounts for most of Kick-Ass 2’s charisma. (That's saying a helluva lot.) She’s proving herself a big-game player: she can sprinkle Tabasco-grade heat over her expletive-drenched one-liners, then make it through a cheesy high school plot arc, dignity in tact.

Not long till we’re forking over to see her carry a film solo. CGM is a gem.

…but you knew that after the first film, when an eight-year-old girl dropped the c-bomb then turned 40-odd dudes into a pool of blood.


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Real talk: I've never given a shit about comic book movie characters.

I’m unabashed about my apathy for Optimus Prime. That's not to say that the CGI wasn’t sweet, and definitely not to say that Megan Fox/Rosie Huntington-Whiteley/[whoever-else-Michael-Bay-was-objectifying] wasn't gorgeous. But it takes a herculean effort to wholly emotionally invest in comic book films.

It’s just like: oh, Spider-Man is getting his ass kicked. Mary Jane is in trouble. I wonder how they’ll resolve this.

Sure, comics-cum-films can still be fun as hell, but emotional disconnect comes with the territory.

That's why The Dark Knight was a big, bold, box-office-destroying punch of fresh air. For once, the shticky comic book mainstays were dulled. More importantly, characters faced emotional consequences. When a comic film is well-executed, it has weight and lethality – true stakes.

That's one thing Kick-Ass 2 does exceptionally. There are consequences. Inject decapitations and explosions and murder, and all of a sudden, there's emotional significance behind every plot turn. All of a sudden, those stupid comic book tropes (“Don’t you understand? Kick-Ass is the real you”) aren’t so eye rolling.

Kick-Ass’ characters feel three-dimensional. They face genuine threats. You understand their motivations. You root for them. Ain’t that a thing?


Hey, either you’re cool with feces, vomit, capital-P-profanity and a remarkable quota of cock amputation jokes – or you’re not.


Mum’s secret bondage gear? Amazing.


No doubt: when Jim Carrey pulled out of the publicity circuit, citing the film’s violence as inappropriate following events in Sandy Hook, this movie took on a different complexion. 

What’s really a gleeful and fantastical playground suddenly became scrutinised and grounded in geo-political realities.

When you place your characters in heavy situations, then team them with such rowdy ADHD humour, something’s got to give.

Kick-Ass 2 touches on pedophilia, rape, domestic terrorism and cop killing: all very real issues, and all very bizarre to watch under the veil of comic book cinema.

The violence is OTT and immensely tactile. Very Sin City. Custom-built for dudes. Kick-Ass 2’s action hits every mark a summer juggernaut ought to hit. But the brutal, near-dreamlike levels of violence – especially in the context of vigilante justice – felt not-in-a-good-way surreal.

When a teenage villain is murdering and building homemade bombs and boasting about it on social media, your mind might – as much as the concept is loathsome – drift to Jahar Tsarnaev, one of the alleged Boston bombers.

Tsarnaev was just a kid with a Twitter account, right? He made pop culture references too.

Without Carrey's actions, maybe you don’t make those connections as a viewer. Either way, you do now. And it’s cringey.

It's patently unfair to creatives who crafted what really is a sublime genre film – but the pre-release chatter may have soured a bonafide winner.

No ums-or-ahs, Kick-Ass is the action film of the summer. It truly, madly, deeply kicks ass. It's just that that isn't all you’ll remember it for.





See Also:

Aaron Taylor-Johnson Speaks With Esquire

What We Learned from The Wolverine

The TV Shows Your Girlfriend Was Right About

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