The only way “Kick-Ass 2” could have possibly been more cartoonish would’ve involved characters using sticks of dynamite and dropping ACME anvils. Beyond that, pretty much every other absurd, ridiculous way to maim, injure or humiliate a person is used (including a lawnmower) in this heartless, slapstick sequel that’s a parody of its uniquely entertaining predecessor.
Dave Lizewski (the just as relatable Aaron Taylor-Johnson, despite a much higher career profile) retired after his first stint as the well-intentioned and horrifically outmatched Kick-Ass, but his example has led dozens to adopt their own super heroic identities.
Eager to get back in the game, he seeks out his former ally, Mindy Macready a.k.a. Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) to train him to be a bigger, badder, Kick-Ass.
Mindy is having her own identity crisis. She’s trying to remain respectful to the wishes of her guardian, Marcus (Morris Chestnut, “The Call”), who wants her to lead the life of a regular high school freshman so she doesn’t end up murdered like her vigilante father, Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage). It’s just that she finds pummeling bad guys a lot more fun than hanging out with the cool girl clique at school.
Hit Girl was the breakout character in the 2010 original so it makes sense to give her more screen time. Her story arc has actual character progression while Dave remains unchanged. The film would have been better off just being a Hit Girl spin-off.
Kick-Ass finds new allies in Col. Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey in a fun, but too brief cameo) and his Justice Forever team including Battle Guy (Clark Duke), Night [email protected]#$ (Lindy Booth, “Dawn of the Dead”) and Dr. Gravity (Donald Faison, “Scrubs”).
Meanwhile, KA’s arch-nemesis, Chris D’Amico a.k.a. The Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, providing a surprisingly complex performance), has assumed a new identity, The [email protected]#$#R.
Along with his faithful bodyguard Javier (John Leguizamo), Chris vows revenge on KA for killing his father and assembles his own team of villains — The Toxic Mega-C!#@$! There’s a fine bit of subtlety required to mock the melodramatic teen/comic fanboy voice without being just as obnoxious and the character names are anything but subtle.
“Kick-Ass 2” really helped me reach the conclusion that Matthew Vaughn is the best comic book director not named Joss Whedon or Christopher Nolan.
Vaughn worked a miracle with “Kick-Ass,” greatly improving on Mark Millar’s hyper-violent, mean-spirited comic series to make a fun, relatable take on people deciding they wanted to be heroes like their comic book inspiration.
Jeff Wadlow (“Never Back Down”) takes over directing and screenwriting duties, but he’s not the scavenger that Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman were so he’s unable to dig out a good movie from the “edgy” (read: asinine) source material that features children being killed, bombings at funerals and a gang rape scene.
The film’s first half sticks fairly close to the dynamic Vaughn established — albeit with a lot more quick clipping and spastic editing during the action scenes, but Wadlow hops onto Brainless Boulevard in the second act when he tries to match Millar’s lunacy.
Vaughn understood that a mainstream movie couldn’t be so true to Millar’s defiling of accepted comic book principals where Wadlow happily embraces it and in the process makes a campy Looney Tunes by way of Quentin Tarantino comic book movie. The climactic battle is set up to be this epic clash of superheroes vs. supervillains, but instead it’s a goofy cosplay battle royal with far worse costumes.
Wadlow seems hopelessly overwhelmed with the property. He wants the audience to take a scene completely serious and then the next moment find the humor in a nauseating scene where a character uses a device to make girls vomit and defecate simultaneously.
Wadlow wants it both ways — a dark superhero epic and side-splitting comic book comedy — but he fails miserably trying to pull it off. The film is more violent than the original, but it’s too silly to be offended.
“Kick-Ass 2” feels like the limp, uninspired third installment of a franchise that should have been put out of its misery a film ago. The ending hints at a third movie but short of a reboot or Vaughn returning to fix this weak sequel, I’ll skip the further adventures of Kick-Ass and his Super Foul-Mouthed Friends.
Rating: 2 out of 10