In my previous discussion of this film, I admitted that it was tough to beat the original Kick-Ass. But I was really pleased to see that this absurdist, hyper-real film re-watched even better than it did the first time for me.
Like many films, knowing the full story makes rewatching it better because the intended story, rather than personal expectation, drives the filter of how you interpret the movie as it unfolds. Thor comes to mind. (Yes, this can also be a weakness in the story-telling.) Most often this is true for surprise endings; the subtle clues are fun to spot the second time through. But sometimes, as with this film, it is simply comprehending what the story and theme actually were because it was such a change from the previous story.
In the case of Kick-Ass 2, and in its unique and twisted way, it is the story of a young girl’s first kiss. OK, not entirely, but it is clearly a huge and recurring theme that drives it all on a plot level. Certainly there are other strong ideas around growing up, self-discovery, and what it means to be a hero, but those are as much reflection of the first film and the situation.
One aspect that did not improve with rewatch was moments of over-the-top violence. The balance that the first film managed is absent. There is just a little too much and a little too cruel, without a sense of reality that tempers the fun with a cringe. Given the repeating line, “This isn’t a comic book, it’s real life,” that is a glitch. What works in a comic on that level comes across wrong in live action.
However, one actor jumped out at me this round, that hadn’t really the first time. Emms (Broken) was unknown to me when I saw the film the first time. He is a nearly invisible character in this film, though often in the frame. Emms gets one very important moment, when he is first introduced, and then was left out of it all. A flaw in the script, I think, but you do have to edit somewhere. It was fun to spot him this time nonetheless.
Generally, I stick by my first review of the film and still recommend this one, if you liked the first. I know others disagree, but I’m willing to let my character evolve, and I’m not locked to the original material in this case. I don’t really need a third, but certainly there are opportunities to do that if Vaughn wants to try again.