KICK ASS 2 (Dir. Jeff Wadlow, 2013)
It’s been three years since Matthew Vaughn’s super hero action comedy KICK ASS, but Jeff Wadlow, taking over the sequel as director, duplicates the look and tone of the original so faithfully that it feels like it’s only a few months later in the lives of Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloë Grace Moretz as “Kick-Ass” and “Hit-Girl” respectively.
These, of course, are their super hero names, but their characters' real names aren’t that important so let’s move on. Although Taylor-Johnson is 23, he can still pull off the shaggy awkward demeanor of a high school student. It doesn’t matter that in the meantime he’s played an ultra-hip drug dealer for Oliver Stone in SAVAGES, or Count Vronsky in Joe Wright’s ANNA KARENINA, here he’s convincingly that conflicted kid again.
Mainly because of her tininess, Moretz (now 16) doesn’t look like she’s gotten older either. Moretz’s confidence does get beaten down a bit, as she deals with the ins and outs of high school popularity and an overprotective godfather, Marcus Chestnut as her dead father’s former police partner, but she’s still got plenty of that stuff that Lou Grant hated. Spunk, I think it’s called.
As they set up at the end of the first film, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (you know, McLovin!) is set on avenging the death of his father, and being a mobster’s kid he is in the financial position to create a new alter ego, which he calls The Mother Fucker, and hire tons of goons to do his dirty work as he isn’t in the physical position to carry it off himself.
While Moretz retires her purple tights, Taylor-Johnson joins a group of likewise-minded vigilantes called “Justice Forever,” headed by Jim Carrey as camouflaged Christian/former mafia enforcer who calls himself “Colonel Stars and Stripes.” Carrey is here to fill in the superstar space left by Nicholas Cage, who played Hit-Girl’s dad in the previous one, but despite a showcase scene in which he leads the ragtag costumed community into crashing a poker game of a bunch of Chinese sex traffickers, he isn’t given much to do.
Wadlow’s screenplay keeps the jokes coming, mostly as one-liner asides, but a lot of them failed to make me laugh out loud. A running gag about Mintz-Plasse assigning super villain names to his hired hands, such as “Black Death” and “Genghis Carnage,” got a few chuckles out of me from the offended reactions of John Leguizamo as his assistant: “Isn’t that a little bit incredibly racist?”
Clark Duke, returning as one of Taylor-Johnson’s best buds who adopts a super hero persona named “Battle Guy, was also amusing here and there, but like Carrey, he’s seriously underutilized too.
After a bunch of set-up sequences, some of which involve inspirational speeches, with the theme being “this is who you really are!” and the killing off of just the exact people you think will be killed off, the movie attempts its climatic pay-off: a warehouse battle between the good and evil armies, with Moretz having it out with Olga Kurkulina as the muscular Mother Russia, while Taylor-Johnson and Mintz Plasse fight on the rooftop above.
KICK-ASS 2 works overtime to top the first one, but the result is massive overkill instead of fun entertainment. It beats what few ideas it has into the ground, and its strewn with underdeveloped characters, like Lindy Booth as Kick-Ass’s new love interest, who goes by the moniker “Night Bitch.” Seems she’s just there to have somebody that Mintz Plasse can threaten to get to our hero, but that unfortunately amounts to some horribly misguided rape jokes.
A story-thread borrowed from HEATHERS, has Moretz getting back at a clique of popular high school girls, headed by Claudia Lee, that dissed her, by way of having a football player pull a “ditch date” on her in front of everybody! The bitches! Moretz’s revenge consists of projectile-vomiting and projectile-diarrhea so there’s that element of gross-out humor for you.
Only if you’re a huge fan of the first KICK-ASS, should you race to the theater to see this sequel. It has ‘wait for video’ written all over it.
Maybe it’s that the fatigue that’s formed over years of super hero movies, and that the freshness of the formula has long worn off, making this seem about as innovative in the ‘let’s try to satirize the genre’ game as that failed Seth Rogen GREEN HORNET flick from a few years back, but, however you slice it, KICK-ASS 2 is nowhere near as charming or funny as its predecessor. But worse, its shock value is worthless.