Review: Kick-Ass 2 – Now twice as asinine
The vulgar, obscene and ultra-violent teenage heroes and villains of the “Kick-Ass” universe have worn out their welcome in mine. Maybe I’m just having a “get off my lawn” moment, but with Kick-Ass 2 the foul-mouthed, social-media obsessed, teenage-wannabe-hero routine has grown thin and this new film was mostly an irritating waste of two hours.
I’m a fan of the original “Kick-Ass” comic series from the inventive (albeit sick and twisted) mind of writer Mark Millar and comic-book artist John Romita Jr., but I wasn’t that impressed by the first live-action film version (as directed by Matthew Vaughn in 2010) of the wiseass kids pretending to be superheroes and getting the snot beat out of them. Unfortunately, the sequel, written and directed by Jeff Wadlow, is even more “asinine” than the first film.
It’s not that I can’t handle this material, and I hate to sound like Jim Carrey (who plays Colonel Stars and Stripes and infamously renounced the violence in this latest movie), but there’s just something about extreme savagery and smartass offensive language mixed with underage children that works better on the comic-book page than it does on the big screen.
Maybe it’s because comics are a much more private, mind’s eye affair than the community experience that a movie is, and as such I’m more comfortable with the unsettling action being confined in my head than I am with seeing it played out on screen while surrounded by strangers in a theater – or maybe I’m just being hypocritical (in which case you know where the comments section is.)
I haven’t read the two follow-up comic series, “Kick-Ass 2” and “Hit-Girl” (which was published after KA2, but takes place before it in continuity), on which the film, “Kick-Ass 2,” is based, but from what I understand they are still extremely violent and even include an infamous gang-rape sequence that I’m happy to have missed and that thankfully was not seen in the new film either.
That “missing” scene, though, does bring me to my point, and my biggest issue with “Kick-Ass” in general. You can’t set a dark comedic tone of obscenity and violence and then throw in ultra-violent scenes that are meant to be taken serious and create character motivation (i.e. the mercifully missing gang-rape scene – previously mentioned – and others that did make it into the movie that I won’t mention for potential spoilage reasons.)
Some background in case you’ve never heard of “Kick-Ass,” it’s the story of a teenager, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who is bored with life and wonders why no one has ever actually tried to become a costumed superhero. So he dons a crappy costume and proceeds to get beaten within an inch of his life. But his video-taped exploits become an internet sensation and he eventually ends up actually preventing some crimes while inspiring copycats, both heroes and villains. He hooks up with a father and daughter team, Big Daddy and Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), and defeats a mob kingpin and his son, Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), but not before Big Daddy is killed in action.
“Kick-Ass 2” picks up with Dave and Hit-Girl (AKA Mindy Macready) in high school where Mindy is having trouble fitting-in with the mean girls who have no idea that she is a badass crime-fighter. Her adopted Dad makes her promise to give up the costume, but meanwhile Dave, who has increased his fighting skills under the tutelage of Hit-Girl, joins up with a team of underground pseudo heroes called, Justice Forever, which is led by Colonel Stars and Stripes and his German Shepard dog, Eisenhower.
Not to be outdone by Kick-Ass and Justice Forever, Red Mist, who now runs his father’s mob empire, changes his name to “The M[deleted]f[deleted]er” and creates a team of villains called “The Toxic Mega-C[deleted]nts.” (Cute, right? And don’t worry, they will run the name into the ground.) Of course, eventually the two factions will meet in battle, but not before Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl go into retirement, but are then forced to come back and take on the bad guys.
There are some guilty laughs in “Kick-Ass 2” and I have to admit I do love the Hit-Girl character that Chloe Grace Moretz plays so well (despite her “potty” mouth.) In all honesty, the Kick-Ass films would be a complete waste without the talented Ms. Moretz. I also got a kick out of the villainous Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina), who has an absurdly fun action sequence where she takes on an entire squad of police cars single-handedly.
Regardless of his misgivings towards this film, Jim Carrey does a great job as the former Mafioso and born-again Christian, Colonel Stars and Stripes; who does not allow his team-members to swear. I think he is getting a bit of a bum rap for his stance on this movie, although it probably would have been better for his career to just remain mum on the subject.
Between its tonal indecision and near constant in-your-face obscenities, “Kick-Ass 2” was mostly a chore to watch and not worth the pay-off of its very few decent and humorous moments. I might be interested in seeing a Hit-Girl film, without all the Kick-Ass baggage, but I have no interest in seeing this movie retread a third time – enough already. Grade: 4/10
Photos © 2013 Universal Pictures