I wish you could swim like the dolphins… #KickAss2 is immoral wank #reviews

Kick-Ass 2

Kick-Ass 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The original Kick Ass was hardly a literary masterpiece.  People read about superheroes all the time, thinks Dave, so why don’t people dress up in identity-obscuring clothes and beat up criminals in real life?  So Dave dresses up in a green onesie and calls himself ‘Kick Ass’.  When he is brutally beaten to a pulp, he is rescued by father and daughter team, Damon and Mindy Macready — a.k.a. ‘Big Daddy’ and ‘Hit Girl’.

Hit Girl is eleven years old but has been trained by Big Daddy to be a weapons expert and to be able to withstand various violent attacks.  They are seeking to punish a man who caused Big Daddy to be wrongfully imprisoned.  By ‘punish’, we mean ‘execute’.

Instead of following the story of Hit Girl and Big Daddy, the original Kick Ass followed Dave’s story as he goes through this strange fame kick.  His story is obnoxiously adolescent.  He wants an attractive girl to like him, but she likes his Kick Ass alter ego and thinks he’s gay.  The son of Hit Girl and Big Daddy’s target ingratiates himself with Kick Ass in order to set a trap.  Blah, blah, blah.

The idea of the film is to shock the viewer with stylised violence and an eleven-year old swearing rather than to explore the questions of justice.  So what if Big Daddy was framed?  Does the criminal deserve to die as a result?  What justifies the abandonment of the traditional justice framework in order to go and beat up bad guys?

Kick Ass 2 is very much a case of second verse being the same as the first, but this time there is a really horrifically awful sexuality to the piece.  The film is offensive to basic standards of taste and decency, with absolutely no mitigating factors to make it even remotely a fulfilling experience.

Big Daddy — who died in the first installment — looms as a character at the start of the film.  Hit Girl has internalised her dead father as a moral exemplar and as a still-living judge of her current behaviour.  Now a fifteen-year old young woman, Mindy is expected to internalise a different set of values.  These values — you will be shocked to know — involve subordinating herself to the established justice system and to participate in social conventions involving slumber parties, lusting after boys, and dressing in skirts.

This plot is infinitely more interesting than the main thread of the story.  For about half of the film, we get to see Mindy struggle with this conflict between two identities.  Unfortunately, the film drops the ball on this question to indulge in the adrenaline-fuelled vigilante blood sport that the audience has paid money to see.  Difficult questions have no place in a film which also had a foul-mouthed adolescent cutting off people’s hands.

Instead, the film’s main concern is Kick Ass who has decided to don the costume once again and join with a faux-Justice League group of halfwit thugs.  Jim Carrey is the leader of this round table of imbeciles, and coordinates attacks on various underworld crime bosses.  Again, we don’t know what justifies the abandonment of the formal justice system.

31_originalThe part which makes this difficult is that Kick Ass and his group openly declare that one of the primary objectives of their vigilantism is to have fun.  The fun comes in a variety of forms.  First, there’s the brute violence of conflict.  Second, there’s the torture of people post conflict (in once case, involving animals trained to bite genitals).  Third, there is the sexual fun of their vigilantism.  It’s this third form which is particularly uncomfortable and gets increasingly horrible.

Among the male-dominated group of justice friends are two women.  One is a frumpy woman married to another of the members.  The other is a scantily-clad 30-year old woman called ‘Night Bitch’.  Thus there are only two roles for women in this group: mothers and sex objects.

Kick Ass — who’s still in high school, remember — forms a crush on Night Bitch.  It’s reciprocated.  They start a relationship explicitly based on Night Bitch’s demand that they never remove their masks.  It is a grotesque relationship taking place predominately in public bathrooms.

The mask is an objectifying prop.  As it later revealed in the film, there is no meaningful relationship between the two people behind Night Bitch and Kick Ass.  They are not people in this sexual relationship — they are simulacra occupying the space of actual people.  But this is clearly false as behind Kick Ass is an actual person and behind Night Bitch is an actual person.  For them, they are engaging in this sham relationship not as their identities as Kick Ass or Night Bitch, but as themselves in a relationship with Kick Ass or Night Bitch.

It’s the dehumanising aspect of sexual fantasy.  When you fantasise about, say, Monica Bellucci or the Wicked Witch of the West or Vladimir Putin or  whomever, you don’t actually fantasise about being with the person as a whole unit.  For the sake of the fantasy, you’ve removed all the parts of the person that don’t relate to the sensory indulgence.  You don’t imagine having the arguments about who’s going to do the washing up, or dropping them off at work, or picking up the kids, &c., &c., &c.  You also don’t imagine those parts of them inconvenient to their role in the fantasy — such as all of the very good reasons why they’d never be interested in sleeping with you.  Your fantasy object is a shell of an identity into which you project the necessary parts and subtract the inconvenient bits.

The relationship between Night Bitch and Kick Ass presents this dehumanising, objectifying, degrading relationship as somehow a fulfilling part of the superhero identity.  Kick Ass, too young to consent, is raped by the older woman indulging in her fetish for the shell-object.  Meanwhile, she herself is subordinated to the adolescent fantasy object of an identity-less woman dressed for the benefit of the male gaze.

This — disgustingly enough — is not presented as the extreme of this sexual misconduct.  The kid of Big Daddy’s nemesis from the first film has decided to become the world’s first supervillain by paying actual villains to subordinate themselves to his desires.  In order to punish Kick Ass for killing his father, the kid — now calling himself the ‘Mother Fucker’ — decides to have his gang hold down Night Bitch while she’s in her ‘human’ guise so he can rape her.

It would fall into the usual trope of the villain raping the hero’s woman in order to punish the hero, except Mother Fucker discovers some performance issues.  The slack-jawed yokels in the cinema audience really loved this joke.  I was in horror that a rape was played for laughs.

In response to all the violence, the authorities decide to start arresting all the vigilante superheroes — an extremely common, paint-by-numbers comic book plot displayed here with absolutely no passion, creativity, or interest.  The human behind Kick Ass (Dave) goes to visit the human behind Night Bitch (Miranda) where it’s discovered that Miranda has absolutely no romantic or friendly interest in Dave.

In response to the brutalisation of Miranda and the arrest of his father (the cops think he’s Kick Ass), Dave decides to hang up his secret identity.  It’s only when Dave’s father is brutalised (and murdered) that Dave decides to suit up to fight justice again.  The message being, of course, that the bad guys can rape and brutalise his fantasy girlfriend because, in a very real sense, she is not an actual person.  Dave’s father, on the other hand, is an actual person and is worthy of being avenged.

And then it’s a big action scene to get us to the end of the film where Hit Girl — completely out of nowhere — decides that she is so broken by her childhood that she is incapable of being Mindy, and the superhero vigilantes decide that unifying their superhero identity with their personal identity is the best way of promoting a just society.  Or something.

It’s the sort of bong-inspired adolescent philosophy that we got from films like The Matrix.  The individual is a god and nobody should get in the way of the hedonistic desire to exert power over other people.

This is straight up an awful film.  Avoid it.

2 thoughts on “I wish you could swim like the dolphins… #KickAss2 is immoral wank #reviews

  1. Pingback: Don’t look at me. It’s way too soon to see… The films of 2013 | Only The Sangfroid

  2. Pingback: Everybody sees you. Everybody looks and stares… Review of ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ | Only The Sangfroid

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