Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz inKick-Ass 2.
The original Kick-Ass was a breath of fresh air in the crowded superhero genre that is threatening to overwhelm multiplexes around the world. Its combination of extreme violence and gore mixed with a dark sense of humor created a very enjoyable movie. Kick-Ass 2 , while still fairly enjoyable, fails to live up to the original in almost every way.
It was Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl who stole the first movie and she's still the best thing this series has going for it despite the writer's best attempts to screw up her character at times. This is a movie about ordinary people trying to act like superheroes, but she's the only truly super one of the bunch. Her trademark foul mouth, purple hair, weapon wielding vigilante is the only one of the good guys who feels threatening. Halfway through the film, the writers have her experience moments of doubt about her future in a series of weak scenes that feel like a poor ripoff of Mean Girls . Not only are these scenes weak and cliche-ridden, they never ring true. She goes from one scene of talking about her promise to her dead father to never stop protecting this city, to giving it all up on what feels like a whim. Thankfully for all of us, she comes to her senses eventually. There's yet to be a successful superhero movie with a female lead, but I say it's time for that to happen with a Hit-Girl spinoff all of her own.
While Moretz was the best thing about the original, it was Christopher Mintz-Plasse who was the most annoying aspect of it as Chris D Amico, the villain's son. Unfortunately, he's not only back for the sequel, he's now the main villain. The problem is, he never feels threatening, even with his oddball crew of sidekicks. Despite their violent behavior and even an implied rape, they come across as silly as the villains in the old 1960's Batman television series.
Chris is now calling himself The Motherfucker and is looking to get revenge against Kick-Ass who, if you remember, killed Chris's father in the original. Kick-Ass himself retired the cowl at the end of the first film, but is feeling bored when this movie begins and ends up putting back on the costume and training with Hit-Girl until she gives it up for awhile. He then joins a group of other wannabe superheroes known as Justice Forever, who eventually draw the attention of The Motherfucker and his crew, leading up to a big rumble by the end of the film.
Although the running time of this sequel is 15 minutes shorter than the original, it feels longer. The plot meanders around episodically and never feels very cohesive. It inevitably leads up to the final battle and I was never emotionally invested in most of the proceedings.
Jim Carrey made news in recent months by saying that he was no longer going to do publicity to support this film in light of the Sandy Hook shootings. With the amount of press this generated, I expected his part to be larger, but his is very much a supporting role. Given the fantasy nature of the violence in this film, the furor over Carrey's statements almost feels manufactured or an excuse simply for Carrey to get out of the press tour for this film. Who knows, maybe he really did have a change of heart, but his feeble protests are simply a tempest in a teacup.
I enjoyed the original Kick-Ass and I was very much looking forward to this sequel. If they end up making a third, I will go to see it of course, but it will be with slightly less enthusiasm. Now if they were to announce a stand-alone Hit-Girl film, that's a movie I would be excited to see.
Chloe Grace Moretz, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse in Kick Ass 2 (What is with all the pretentious sounding names?)
While I enjoyed Kick Ass 2 more than Scott, I do understand his point about Mindy’s temporary change of heart. The writers may have felt the need to humanize her by showing her brief fascination with fitting in at school and her developing sexuality but it took far too long and felt forced. The motive for her change of heart is extremely weak and pointless. Her upstaging the blonde at stripper try outs was akin to Fonzy jumping the shark. If you want to humanize Mindy then show us that she is not good at everything.
Hit Girl is a bad ass super hero, not a show pony. It is beneath her to dance for the entertainment of others. Her entire experience with the “mean girls” should have, and could have, been done in one scene. Marcus personally takes her into school, he leaves, they act bitchy and she makes them puke, back to Hit Girl. She could have watched the One Direction type music video anywhere.
With the exception of that part of the film, Kick Ass 2 delivers. It combines awkward moments of humor, like Motherfucker wearing his mother’s S&M clothes with disturbing scenes like the one featuring Javier calling him from the car. Kick Ass hangs out with a group of “super” heroes who seem more like a joke than anything, but then we get the violent scene of them breaking up the poker game.
It is an interesting trick to pull off. For a film with such over-the-top villains as a female body builder named Mother Russia taking out ten police men, you would think that real tension would be non-existent. However, it is there. We easily get caught up in such moments as Kick Ass getting his ass kicked. There was an adrenaline rush when Mindy finally put her tampon away and got back into the action.
Whereas the first film was a turning point for Mindy, this time it is Dave’s turn to grow up. It is a harsh, however cliché, moment when he realizes what game he is playing. We care about Dave and Mindy. They are super hero fan boys who have taken things to a whole new level. They are “real” characters playing a fantasy, yet deadly, game.
Kick Ass 2 walks a fine line between camp and serious action film. Like its predecessor, it somehow pulls it off. The members of Justice Forever are one dimensional but we understand why they are pretending to be heroes. We live in a world where injustice happens and not all criminals get caught. We, as a nation, have gone in the wrong direction of every world list, such as education and poverty. We put more people in prison than any other country. The members of Justice Forever are a band of average folks fed up with feeling like victims.
It is no wonder super hero films are so popular in a country where two teenage African Americans can decide out of boredom to kill a white jogger in Oklahoma for no other reason than his skin color and the press is too scared to call it a hate crime. Did we not just deal with the Zimmerman case where the issue of a hate crime was brought up and protests were organized all over the country because of the verdict? Kick Ass represents a stirring vigilante mentality in this country that so far chooses to hide in a mob and not behind a mask.
Lindy Booth and Donald Faison in Kick-Ass 2.
Eric, I have no idea how you can make a connection between the popularity of superhero movies and a senseless murder. Your ability to inject your political views into your reviews – no matter how big of a stretch it is – is something I'm quite used to by now, but in this case it truly makes no sense. And why is it that the same people who are against Hate Crime Laws are usually the first ones to complain when they aren't enforced to their satisfaction?
Not at all surprisingly, Kick-Ass 2 is inferior to the first Kick-Ass. It has its moments but it never quite gels. Jim Carrey's Colonel Stars and Stripes is a poor substitute for Nicolas Cage's Big Daddy. In my review for the first Kick-Ass I wrote that Hit-Girl needed her own movie. Somehow the writers managed to make even her character dull during the scenes in high school. I agree completely with my brothers that her cheer sequence is utterly ridiculous, and she now lacks the punch (pun intended) that the character had as a little girl.
Kick-Ass (Dave) himself continues to be quite dull. I have never much cared for that character. I did enjoy his team of superheroes. They bring some levity and fun to the proceedings. I laughed when the middle-aged married couple missed a meeting because they had tickets to Book of Mormon. Night Bitch's name is funny. I also chuckled at Insect Man, “I've been bullied my whole life for being gay. So now I stand up for the defenseless. It's why I don't wear a mask. Too much like being back in the closet.” To which Colonel Stars and Stripes replies, “As long as your heart's in the right place, we don't care what you put in your mouth.”
The juvenile combination of silliness with foul language and ultra-violence seems forced this time around. I disagree with Eric about the level of tension. I never felt any. Mother Russia's rampage is very cartoonish and Motherfucker is just plain stupid. This world is so removed from reality that I wasn't affected by the death of one of the characters that occurs. At one point Kick-Ass says, “This is not a comic book. This is real life! When you're dead, it's done. There's no sequel.” If only that were true.
Photos © Copyright Universal Pictures (2013)