KICK ASS 2
Author: JA Hyde
August 15, 2013

SYNOPSIS: His heroic antics having inspired a citywide wave of masked vigilantes, Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) joins their ranks to help clean up the streets, only to face a formidable challenge when the vengeful Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) transforms himself into the world's first super villain in this sequel written and directed by Jeff Wadlow ('Never Back Down'). Dave/Kick-Ass and Mindy/Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) are about to graduate high school and become a crime-fighting duo when their noble plans are foiled by Mindy's strict parents. Now, as Mindy hangs up her Hit Girl uniform and navigates the treacherous high-school social scene, Kick-Ass begins patrolling the streets with Justice Forever, a fearless group of urban watchdogs fronted by former mob thug Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). They've got the criminal element on the run when Chris D'Amico lays his Red Mist persona to rest, and reemerges as The Mother F**ker, a powerful criminal mastermind with a loyal legion of henchmen. The Mother F**ker is determined to avenge the death of his late father, who previously perished at the hands of Kick-Ass and Hit Girl. Now, as The Mother F**ker and his minions begin targeting the members of Justice Forever, Hit Girl realizes that the only way to save Kick-Ass and his new friends is to emerge from her forced retirement, and fight back with everything she's got.

More is not always better, especially if the “more” is a higher gross-out factor. And THAT’s my main complaint about Kick-Ass 2, the sequel to the much-better Kick-Ass.

If a director has to distract the audience with super-gross visuals, it usually means something important is missing. Kick-Ass, directed by Matthew Vaughn, benefitted from a completely fresh take on “cartoon” violence and interesting – if shocking – characters. The sight of the then 11-year-old Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) dispatching grown thugs with extreme prejudice surprised, but intrigued, audiences and gave the young actress a cult-like following.

Nicholas Cage’s loopy-but-lethal Big Daddy, Hit Girl’s dad, acted with clear motivation, but since he met his Maker in the first film, he’s a loss in the sequel. Col. Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey) is a replacement of sorts, but not really effective. Plus, he has nothing to do with Hit Girl. He’s a mentor for a new gathering of wannabe super heroes that attracts the attention of Dave Lizewsky/Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). And, worst of all, Christopher Minte-Plasse’s character Chris D’Amico, transforms from a shy guy who just wants his father’s attention and who has a conscience, into a villain who’s a complete buffoon, offensively named Mother-f****r. Add a high quota of bathroom/bodily fluids humor and sex pervert jokes, and Kick-Ass 2 director Jeff Wadlow creates a clearly inferior follow-up to a truly inventive film.

Most of the actors from the original are back: Aaron Taylor Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Clark Duke, and Garrett M. Brown as Dave/Kick-Ass, Mindy/Hit Girl, Marty, and Mr. Lizewsky respectively. New additions – or substitutions – include Morris Chestnut as Det. Marcus Williams, Augustus Prew as Todd, Donald Faisson as Dr. Gravity, John Leguizamo as Javier, Lindy Booth as Night Bitch, and, of course, Jim Carrey as Col. Stars and Stripes.

The review continues after the jump!

In the current film, Dave is a high school senior who doesn’t know what he wants to do next, and Mindy is supposed to be attending school like a normal girl, but she’s really skipping every day to return to her and her late father’s safe house to continue training and go after bad guys. Dave discovers her ruse, and ends up training with her, therefore becoming stronger and more adept than he was in the first film. When he learns, online, about Col. Stars and Stripes and his “Justice Forever” vigilante group, he decides to join them. Meanwhile, Chris D’Amico has inherited his family’s fortune and with the help of his loyal body-guard Javier, tries to carry on his father’s family organized crime “business”. He blames Kick-Ass for blowing up his dad with a bazooka, and when he learns that Kick-Ass is back in business, he decides to become a super villain and recruits a team of lethal sociopaths to find and kill Kick-Ass and everyone who’s associated with him. The worst of his group is Mother Russia, played by Ukrainian body-builder Olga Kurkulina, who looks like she might have a hard time passing that Olympic chromosome test.

Det. William’s main interest is getting Mindy to live a “normal” life, a ship that sailed a long time ago. How can you domesticate a girl who, by her own description, can “kill a man with his own finger?” Add to this a totally exaggerated high school “mean girls” situation, and an ineffective internal struggle gets set up for her. You know that, in the end, she could never be anyone but Hit Girl.

In Kick-Ass, the characters were exaggerated, too, but in a comic book/satirical sort of way. In Kick-Ass 2, the exaggeration goes too far and strips the characters of any plausibility whatsoever. Dave’s charming, but misguided; naiveté does not ring as true this time. Didn’t he learn anything from his life-threatening injuries in the first film? Nor does Hit Girl’s attempt to “make it” in the clique culture of high school seem believable. As far as the new characters go, John Leguizamo gives a reliably apt portrayal of Javier, Chris’s luckless body guard. Donald Faisson and Lindy Booth are the stand-outs among the new crime-fighters. Morris Chestnut, however, seems much too clueless as Mindy’s guardian.

Kick-Ass 2 has some gruesome stuff, some sexy stuff, some truly offensive stuff, and some funny stuff – in other words, the stuff dreams are made of if you’re a teen-aged boy. If you’re not, I’d suggest you watch Kick-Ass again, which is the first thing I did before tackling this review. In comparison, this sequel just doesn’t get off the ground. - J.A. Hyde

GRADE: C-


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