Kick-Ass is back, and this time he’s (too) serious.
2010’s Kick-Ass had a refreshingly original tone — including a hard-on for depicting severe violent repercussions within a completely unrealistic comic-born plot. The film solidified Chloë Grace Moretz as a rising star…and a genuine bad-ass. Fans hoped to eventually see more of Hit Girl and more of this type of violent mayhem that was (crucially) grounded in a sense of fun and, dare I say, purpose. Now comes Kick-Ass 2, a mostly straightforward revenge tale that features more graphic violence than the original, but much less fun and with less purpose.
Chloë Grace Moretz returns as Mindy Macready, aka Hit-Girl, the foul mouthed ass-kicking fifteen year old. She can’t shake the super-hero identity, and high school is no picnic for her…when she even shows up. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is the “retired” title character, Kick-Ass, who is trying his hardest to continue down the path of a normal teenage life. But as these stories go, neither one of them is comfortable pretending to be what they’re not, and they get involved yet again in their crime fighting ways (but not before a large segment focuses on Mindy’s attempts to break into the popular girl’s clique, headed by queen bee Brooke). Meanwhile, still angrily mourning the loss of his father is Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) aka Red Mist/The Motherf-cker. The Motherf-cker wants to exact revenge on Kick-Ass, and begins recruiting an army of racially-diverse baddies to execute his sinister plan. Kick-Ass, on the other hand, joins a crime-busting team of his own. It doesn’t take long for many characters, both good and bad, to realize that they are in way above their heads. Kick-Ass 2 is primarily about how these characters react to this realization and face the dire consequences.
It’s a bit hard to touch on all the plot points, highlights, and lowlights of Kick-Ass 2 because the movie is messy. There are lots of characters to follow, some coming and going in the blink of an eye, others sticking around but not adding much entertainment value (or significance) to the story. Hit Girl is the most fascinating character and Moretz is once again fantastic in the role. Taylor-Johnson is fine, but considering all that happens to him in this story, one would expect a more genuine array of emotions being acted out. Isn’t that the script’s fault? Possibly. The best supporting role, by far, goes to Jim Carrey as ex-military tough-guy mentor, Colonel Stars and Stripes. The character is a welcome change of pace for the actor (who is nearly unrecognizable here), though it’s unlikely we’ll see him again anytime soon in another violent flick due to the actor’s highly publicized ethical dilemma. Nevertheless, Carrey owns it, and his presence is strongly felt in some of the best scenes of the movie.
With more than a couple self-references and an extra amount of fights, Kick-Ass 2 always tries to one-up the original and ends up falling flat. The combination of gimmicks, ridiculousness, harsh violence, and some unexpected events help capture a similar tone to the original, but again, it’s not as fun. There are some laughs and smiles to be had, sure, but not as often as the filmmakers intended. The action in the original Kick-Ass involved kids fighting criminals (mainly adults) and a rockin’ soundtrack — a combination that made one cheer as baddies got knocked around and even offed. In Kick-Ass 2, however, kids fight kids, violence is often inflicted upon the innocent, and everyone suffers. After exiting the theater, I was a little surprised that Jim Carrey chose to step away from promoting the movie due to the violence in it, because it sometimes actually felt like a public service announcement condoning violence. It’s not ALL serious, however, and when the violence is glorified…it’s understandably polarizing.
So is Kick-Ass 2 pointing out that violence is the necessary action to take against unyielding foes when you live in a city with the most inept and absent cop force, ever? Wait, Kick-Ass takes place in New York City?! WTF?!
Kick-Ass 2 opens in Bay Area theaters today, August 16th 2013.