Directed by Jeff Wadlow. Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Morris Chestnut, Jim Carrey, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Donald Faison, Clark Duke, John Leguizamo, Lindy Booth. (2013, R, 103 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Aug. 16, 2013
How much you enjoy this sequel to Matthew Vaughn’s snarly comic-book bloodbath from 2010 rests squarely on the hulking shoulders of its predecessor. Like round one, this second wind is a profanity-ridden affair (and that’s a good thing) with buckets of CGI’d red stuff and gory fisticuffs that are sure to give the original, televised Batman, Adam West, fits and conniptions. This time out, there’s a legion of supervillains led by embittered former superguy, the Red Mist (a highly entertaining Mintz-Plasse), here self-rebranded as “The Motherfucker.”
Alas, director Wadlow is no Matthew Vaughn, and the story is its own (frequently entertaining nonetheless) clusterfuck. The world of real-life, semi-superheroes has become a national movement of sorts after the exploits of Kick-Ass (Taylor-Johnson) and Hit-Girl (Moretz) and the death of Nicolas Cage’s Big Daddy during the finale of Kick-Ass in the first film. As this update begins, Mindy, aka Hit-Girl, is schooling not-all-that-kick-ass Dave (aka Kick-Ass) in the fine art of busting heads and deflecting ordnance. Inspired by his previous adventures, Dave just wants to get back out on the street and nab some hoodlums, while Mindy, following a promise to her daddy, is gamely trying to construct a “normal” life amidst the slings and arrows of her freshman year in high school. Not so easy that, and the pair of them have a rough time until the Red Mist, driven ’round the bend to Vengeance Lane by the death of his mobster father, dresses up in his late mother’s S&M gear (yeah, it’s that kind of humor throughout), takes on his new bad-guy name, and begins assembling a Legion of Doom of his own – with the express intent of killing Kick-Ass.
Meanwhile, Dave/Kick-Ass joins up with a motley crew of good guys (and gals), among them daytime pal Marty (Duke), costumed as the chubby Battle Guy, Dr. Gravity (Faison), and the slinky Night Bitch (Booth). They’re all under the command, more or less, of an unrecognizable Carrey as the Colonel, a born-again hit man with a serious hard-on for the red, white, and blue. (This was supposed to be Carrey’s big comeback film, but it’s not. In the wake of the Newtown school shootings, Carrey famously withdrew his support for the film, via Twitter, saying the finished project was just too violent for his tastes.)
Kick-Ass 2 returns with the original’s rollicking sense of vulgarity and bodily trauma fully intact, but the story has more plot lines to string together than absolutely necessary. It’s a bumpy ride to the final heroes vs. villains melee, and the film is frequently stopped dead by meaty chunks of exposition and Kick-Ass’ disquisitions about what it means to be a hero. We already know, from experience, that Good will triumph over Evil in the end, and the only real question here is this: When will Mindy/Hit-Girl get her first kiss? Say it with me: “Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.”