Kick-Ass 2 didn't do well at the box office. It's opening weekend was 13 million, which isn't that much less than the 19 million that the first Kick-Ass made, but the budget was about the same and so were the expectations. The word of mouth wasn't good and the Rotten Tomatoes score wasn't either. So what went wrong?
1. Matthew Vaughn left.
Matthew Vaughn has a load of talent. He was a producer for Guy Ritchie on Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, and stuck it out until Guy Ritchie started making terrible movies. He then went on to direct the outstanding Layer Cake and played around with Stardust (which I haven't seen, but I've heard it's underappreciated). He opted not to direct the sequel, and supposedly 'hand picked' Jeff Wadlow for the project. He must have been really impressed with Cry Wolf and Never Back Down.
Unfortunately, as viewers, we are now subject to a script that is incomprehensible, lazy action scenes, and some terrible, terrible CGI.
2. Lazy character motivations.
Hit-Girl...trying to adjust to her normal, everyday teenage life. Something big would have to bring her back into the game, right? Wrong. She gets back in because...she's bored. Kick-Ass has hung up his suit as well, and is also focusing on being a high schooler again. Something significant has to bring him back to crime fighting. What Wadlow (also the writer) came up with? Boredom.
Yes, ultimately this movie is about bored people.
Now, I realize that the story had to be changed for the film, as the first movie took liberties with Katie that screwed up a lot of what could have happened with the second movie. So, instead of using Katie as a pawn, a different character...obviously forced upon us...is used instead. This switch absolutely does not work, and just comes off as a poor decision in the writers room.
3. The confused tone.
In order to make us care for certain characters in a movie, there has to be a consistent tone. Is your flick a serious one, or are we playing things for jokes? Why should we care about these characters?
In one scene, a certain 'larger than life' character dispatches of a dozen NYPD officers on a city street. They are decimated to the tune of an upbeat soundtrack, and in over the top, outlandish ways, but we're not supposed to care because they don't have names. Yet a few scenes later, a major supporting character dies, and we're supposed to be sad about it (when, to be honest, even the character who's really supposed to be affected by this...doesn't seem so). As a writer, you cannot just tell us that we are supposed to care about someone because they're a friend or a family member or a coworker. You have to make us care, which Wadlow's script just didn't do.
4. The story and the 'comedy'.
The reason Kick-Ass's comedy worked was because up to that point, we really hadn't seen anything like it before. Sure, as viewers, we had seen 'regular' people try to don a mask and a cape to fight crime (Super comes to mind), but Hit-Girl was what really put Kick-Ass on the map. A 12 year old, spouting profanity and decapitating drug dealers...that was pretty new, fresh, and funny.
Here we are, 3 years later, and that same shtick just doesn't work anymore. Hit-Girl is older now, and those same dick jokes that once worked...just seem really forced and kind of sad. There are several comedy beats that absolutely fall flat...like, crickets flat. Not even Mintz-Plasse is funny here as The Motherfucker.
There's another side plot that could have easily been either dropped or developed, but turned into Mean Girls 3. This plot was uninteresting, made zero sense, and was groan-inducing.
5. Not enough Jim Carrey.
Jim Carrey has more of a cameo here in Kick-Ass 2, on screen for less than 10 minutes total. It's unfortunate, because his character is one of the most interesting. He plays Colonel Stars & Stripes, an ex-mob hitman who became a born again Christian. This could have also tied the first and second films together in a really interesting way, but alas...it is instead a missed opportunity.
He really hams it up here while on screen, and I wish we could have seen more of it. Unfortunately, we're stuck with half-assed, undeveloped characters like Dr. Gravity and the cleverly named...Night Bitch.