It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Kick-Ass 2" is one of the year's worst films. I would like to get that pertinent fact out of the way before we discuss it properly. But for those with horrid taste in cinema, questionable politics, and terribly short attention spans, i.e. the target audience of this movie, I feel it is my duty to say: Don't see this film. Do something else. Enjoy the final days of the summer. Solve a crossword puzzle. Call grandma. Do whatever you like. But don't see this reprehensible movie.
Criticizing superhero films tends to put the reviewer slightly lower on the ladder of popularity than the bloke that shot Bambi's mother. These films have a tightly knit audience. If a critic takes a superhero movie seriously and chastises it for its shortcomings, fans pounce with the age-old mantra: "It's only a comic book film!" But if the critic dismisses a superhero movie, the fans shout: "There is real meaning to this work, and you are biased." As such, the critic can't win. Why is it possible to soberly dissect melodramas, thrillers, even comedies—is it because they rank as "high culture," and are therefore immune to petty, juvenile arguments? Or is it because superheroes have somehow become the embodiment of popular culture and consequently impossible to doubt, for fear the whole lot may crumble away?
I believe the latter to be the case. The superheroes present a very simple solution to the complexities of the modern world. The various shades of grey that line the surface of apparently "deeper" superhero films, such as Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, are mere distractions from the utter ridiculousness of the core concept: a man in a costume fighting crime! As such, taking superhero fare seriously amplifies both its absurdity and fascist overtones. The word fascist is frequently misapplied, but it does fit with the superhero aesthetic, which is about one thing and one thing only: violence. Superheroes overpower their opponents with brute force, and as such are the most hideous display of power-worship.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn and based on the work of former enfant terrible of comics, Mark Millar, 2010's "Kick-Ass" was a transgressive take on the superhero concept, exploring a world where comic book nerds of various ages and intellects donned skin-tight costumes to fight mobsters. The film's philosophy and its approach towards justice was problematic, but Vaughn had a deftness of touch that propelled the story. Equally interesting was the pairing of Nicolas Cage and the then pre-teen Chloë Grace Moretz as Big Daddy and Hit-Girl, respectively. This father-daughter team of benevolent psychopaths was a highlight not necessarily because of the characters, but because of the obvious quirkiness of the actors and their chemistry. On the whole, though, "Kick-Ass" wasn't a very good movie.