“Kick-Ass 2” – Review by Daniel Rester

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Kick-Ass 2 Review

by Daniel Rester

             Kick-Ass surprised many movie fans back in 2010. With its deft mixing of dark humor, satire of the superhero ideal, and colorful action, the film provided some terrific entertainment for comic book fans and guilty pleasure for others. Now comes its sequel, aptly named Kick-Ass 2, which is also based on the comic books of the same name and Hit-Girl by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.

            A few years after the events of the original have passed, and now Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is a bored high school senior who wants to return to the superhero life. He soon teams up with a group called “Justice Forever,” led by an ex-mob enforcer and born-again Christian named Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey); this also leads Lizewski to start a relationship with a superhero named Night Bitch (Lindy Booth).

Lizewski also tries to get Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz) to become Hit-Girl again, but her new father figure (Morris Chestnut) disapproves. Macready reluctantly decides to give up her past ways and try to fit in in high school, which involves hanging out with a bunch of preppy girls. It becomes difficult for her to fully put down the knives and guns, though.

Also in the mix of things is Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who was previously known as Red Mist. He decides to call himself “The Mother F**ker” (no joke) and declares vengeance against Kick-Ass for killing his father. D’Amico wants to become the world’s first real supervillain, and he even hires a group of criminals – including the formidable Mother Russia (real-life bodybuilder Olga Kurkulina).

So there’s a lot going on in Kick-Ass 2, and writer-director Jeff Wadlow (replacing Matthew Vaughn, who helped produce this one with Brad Pitt and a few others) doesn’t quite seem to know how to handle all of it. There are some strong individual scenes within the film, but when all is said and done the movie is a blood-soaked jumble.

The tonal inconsistencies really knock the film down, with Wadlow never finding a proper balance in switching from hard-core action to coming-of-age drama to disgusting humor to superhero satire. Seriously, Kick-Ass 2 even cues music for a sad scene soon after trying to wring laughs out of a scene involving involuntary vomiting and defecation. Wadlow works best with presenting the action, but even then he resorts to using some shaky cam, which fits appropriately (not in a good way) with the rest of the film’s messiness.

But some of the violence is effective, if not always in a tasteful way. It’s fun to see the variety of amateur heroes and villains, all donning homemade outfits, go head to head in what often looks like a chaotic and action-packed Comic Con rendering. Though the material is often all over the place and most of the acting is just serviceable, the characters all have presence and really help raise the proceedings.

The standouts of the cast and characters are Moretz and Carrey. Both give a recognizable amount of heart and energy to their characters, though the characters are quite different. Moretz spews swear words, presents some heartbreak, and does some awesome sword-wielding and flips, while Carrey gives Stars and Stripes a certain mix of gruffness and likability.

Taylor-Johnson and Mintz-Plasse also entertain in their roles. Taylor-Johnson still makes for an appealing lead, though he has to be stuck with delivering obvious narration at times (one of the other weaknesses of the script); and Mintz-Plasse is unmistakably having fun as the ridiculous Mother F**ker. Some of the supporting cast is good as well, with Clark Duke and John Leguizamo delivering a few laughs in smaller parts.

Kick-Ass 2 is an ugly, sloppy, and pretty pointless sequel for the most part, lacking the freshness and satirical bite of the original. However, it does have exciting fighting, colorful characters, and a few great comedic moments. It’s really a mixed bag, where some comic book fans will likely love it while many critics will find it to be a repugnant sequel. I’m on the fence about it.           

Rating: 2 ½ out of 4 stars (Grade Equivalent for Me: B-).

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