Back in 2010, Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass left an indelible impression on audiences with an energetic, fresh take on the increasingly saturated superhero genre. Jeff Wadlow replaces Vaughn (a producer here) at the helm for Kick-Ass 2 (15), and whilst the franchise no longer has the shock factor, the sequel still serves up a generous helping of foul-mouthed superhero fun.

Kick-Ass 2What’s it about? Three years after that memorable death by bazooka, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, looking somewhat older here) has settled back in to high-school life but is itching to return to crime fighting. He finds inspiration in Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), who fights crime with other costumed enthusiasts. Meanwhile, the now fatherless Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) rebrands himself The Motherfucker and starts recruiting a team of evil cohorts to take revenge on Kick-Ass and his ally Mindy ‘Hit-Girl’ Macready (Chloë Grace Moretz), who has promised adoptive Father Marcus (Morris Chestnut) that her blade-wielding days are over.

Verdict: The narrative sticks quite closely to its comic-book counterpart – although thankfully some of the more violent, tasteless moments have been done away with – and the theme of escalation is prevalent throughout. “This isn’t a comic book; this is real life!” is a sentiment voiced by more than one character in Kick-Ass 2, which effectively explores the consequences of superheroes in a realistic world.

Much has been made of Carrey’s comments regarding the film’s violence, and whilst there are a few brutal fight sequences – many of which involve Olga Kurkulina’s Mother Russia – it’s all very much in keeping with what we’ve seen previously from the franchise. Carrey himself is on good form here, convincing in combat as well as supplying some laughs in his far-too-brief screen time.

The majority of the chuckles come from Mintz-Plasse’s PVC-clad supervillain. The actor is clearly having a lot of fun with the role and is enjoyable to watch, despite his character’s actions. Less interesting is the titular Kick-Ass; Johnson gives an earnest performance, but his character’s journey feels almost too formulaic.

Although the film’s title bears another hero’s name, Wadlow spends a significant amount of time examining Hit-Girl Mindy’s foray into the treacherous world of high school, and the film is all the better for it. Moretz is excellent in these Mean Girls-influenced sequences, deftly portraying both the character’s vulnerability and confidence.

Final Words: It doesn’t reach the heights of its predecessor, but Kick-Ass 2 is still a well-acted and entertaining sequel. Roll on number 3.

Rating: 3.5 / 5      

Kick-Ass 2 is in UK cinemas on 14 August, and 16 August in the US.