Kick Ass 2: Is Violence Ever Good?

(Possible Spoilers Ahead)

I wrote one version of this review that was far more positive than the one I’m writing now. My first impression of Kick Ass 2 is that I liked it quite a lot. Then, I started to reflect on the film and I realized a few things disturbed me.

Here are my thoughts.

(Warning, language ahead)

It’s been two years since David Lizewski donned the green mask of Kick Ass. He’s gone into hiding along with Mindy Macready, also known as “Hit-Girl.” Dave is trying to live a “normal” life and forget about his crime fighting past. But Dave can’t stand to see evil on the streets and begs Mindy to teach him. She does and they start to fight crime. When Hit-Girl is caught, she promises her guardian, Marcus, that she won’t suit up again.

The problem is, Chris D’Amico wants revenge on Kick Ass for killing his dad. He becomes the world’s first Super Villain: The Mother Fucker. While he goes on a rampage, David seeks out the newly formed superhero team, Justice Forever, for help. The leader of the team, Colonel Star and Stripes (Jim Carrey – in a flat out amazing performance), is a former hit man turned Christian. He’s trying to make up for his terrible past by fighting for justice. The Colonel wants to take his regret over the pain he caused and use it to motivate him to do something good. Part of that good in the film is leading the Justice Forever team to break up a child prostitution ring. I found his story the most compelling, but sadly, Kick Ass 2 doesn’t give us enough of him.

If the movie gave Carey’s Colonel Stars and Stripes more screen time, he might have saved the film for me. His seeking of redemption could have added depth to the film and bound the story together. Instead, we only get what amounts to a few minutes of screen time. Further, his struggle with being a Christian and committing violence would have brought some interesting discussion points.

For example, the movie could address the idea of “is violence really needed to fight evil?” Indeed, Kick Ass 2 seems to try and answer this very question. It fails because the mindless violence overwhelms a very legitimate point. Don’t misunderstand me, I believe there is a place for violence in film, and I’ll explain more at a later date. However, when an attempted rape fails because the villain “can’t get it up,” all sorts of lines have been crossed.

Still, Kick Ass 2 does bring up a very interesting question: How should evil be fought?

Very often, many Christians quote Jesus about turning the other cheek when it comes to fighting evil. First, this passage is often misunderstood. When Jesus advocates this approach, it is actually a resistance to evil by turning it into good. It’s not an invitation to be a doormat.

But, what’s also missed in these passages is that Jesus is addressing how we must deal with personal offenses, that is, what is done against us. He says very little about what we should do when evil is done to others. But, the rest of the Bible is pretty clear. Evil must be resisted, the defenseless must be protected, and those who have the ability to do so have an obligation to fight.

At times, in Kick Ass 2, Dave and Mindy try to be “normal.” They try to forget who they are and the gifts they’ve been given. Not only do they realize that normal is highly overrated, it can be sometimes downright evil. It’s only when they embrace who they’ve been called to be and fight evil, that they really understand their purpose. Until they do, people they love get hurt and die.

This, to me, was the most beautiful point about the movie that got lost in the crap. Sometimes, people aren’t called to be “normal” (whatever that means). Sometimes, many times, the strange, the motivated, and the crazy, not only change the world, but save it. Hit-Girl realizes this when she says (paraphrase), “Dave, maybe our pain is given to us for a reason. Maybe we’re supposed to turn it into something good, to help the world.”

And, like it or not, sometimes violence is necessary to destroy evil. Is that bad? Yes, but it’s a fact of life. We live in a violent, sinful world. Even more, there are genuine evil people, who, in the words of Alfred the butler in The Dark Knight, “Just want to watch the world burn.” These people must be resisted with love, yes, but love that sometimes acts out with force.

Sometimes evil requires force through the barrel of a gun. Men who sell little girls into prostitution will do anything and must be stopped. Resisting evil with good means to do so with all our talents and abilities. Kick Ass 2 is subdued (at least in comparison to the first movie) and has a laser focused story on its main point: turn your pain into doing something good.

Yet, sadly, the disjointed story, the jarring weirdness of the comedic violence, and an underlying meanness, overwhelms this potentially beautiful point.

Kick Ass 2 opens in theaters everywhere on Friday the 16th.

About Jonathan Ryan

Jonathan Ryan is a novelist, blogger and columnist. His novel, 3 Gates of the Dead, published by Open Road Media, is in bookstores everywhere. The sequel, Dark Bride, will be out in April 2015


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