As a huge fan of the first Kick-Ass film, I was concerned that without the writer-director partnership of Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn Kick-Ass 2 would fail to live up to the adrenaline-filled, laugh-a-minute action comedy that was its predecessor. However, it seems that Jeff Wadlow has managed to craft a sequel that is every bit as humorous and action-packed as the first instalment, whilst also writing a screenplay that is both emotionally engaging and ambitiously inspirational.
Following on directly from the events of Kick-Ass, Mindy "Hit-Girl" McCreedy has been taken into the care of her father's ex-police partner, Marcus, and is struggling to adapt to a life of high school politics and pubescent urges. She is badgered by Dave "Kick-Ass" Lizewski to reunite and join his team of amateur superheroes "Justice Forever" - headed by the idealistic Colonel Stars And Stripes. Meanwhile Chris D'Amico, now rebooted as "The Motherfucker", is building an evil army of supervillains intent on destroying everything that Kick-Ass holds dear.
Kick Ass 2 has all the bloody action, razor-sharp wit and pithy one-liners that made the original movie such an enjoyable hit. Hit-Girl is of course back on foul-mouthed form, and helps to train Kick-Ass - resulting in more bone-crunching, bloody and stylised fight scenes. Jim Carrey also shines in his supporting role as a Christian vigilante motivated purely by the pursuit of what is right. His team of heroes all embody the struggle of average people against the evils of prejudice, corruption and injustice; and there is a surprising amount of emotional engagement in this sequel, which helps heighten the pay-off of the vengeful comic action.
Yet, the movie is also a much-needed kick up the arse for the comic book hero genre. The evil villains are portrayed as bigoted billionaires, amoral mercenaries, and bent cops; whilst the heroes are honest, decent people who want to fight back against oppression (and try to have fun - because otherwise, what's the point?) The character of Hit-Girl is absolutely phenomenal. Her subversion of weak female gender stereotypes in favour of confidence, power, wit and morality make her a far more realistic and inspirational hero than any mega-rich playboy with some expensive gadgets. She also helps to hammer home the underlying messages of Kick-Ass 2: be true to yourself, fight the real bad guys of the world, protect the innocent, and enjoy doing it.
I would really love for more comic book movies to take the Kick-Ass approach to storytelling, characterisation and action direction. Even if this is the last we'll see of these characters, they have done a great job over just two films. The smart screenplay, striking direction and perfectly judged performances, easily make Kick-Ass 2 my favourite film of the year so far.