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What’s it About?

The costumed high-school hero Kick-Ass joins with a group of normal citizens who have been inspired to fight crime in costume. Meanwhile, the Red Mist plots an act of revenge that will affect everyone Kick-Ass knows.

“Kick Ass 2”

Directed by Jeff Wadlow

5 out of 10

By Vic

Man, I wanted to really like this. I even re-read the trade of “Kick Ass 2” by Millar and Romita Jr. I am a pretty big fan of the first movie and the title books the movie was based on. For some reason, director Jeff Wadlow’s approach is a bit trite, schizoid and even repetitive here. It has some things to enjoy, like, the over the top violence, colorful characters and  tongue in cheek goofiness with winky fanboy props thrown in. Even Jim Carrey is impressive as Colonel Stars and Stripes but he has very little screen time (He doesn’t last too long in the books either) despite rocking a killer voice delivery for his character.

A sequel has to go even more over the top than it’s previous entry. Especially after the first movie which was incredibly off the wall. Here, though, Wadlow’s journey seems a bit toned down but thrives in places with well placed emotion and character development. I just couldn’t see, though, the appeal anymore of Chloe Grace Moretz, as Mindy, running around cursing and bruising up guys. I was genuinely surprised and enjoyed her foul mouthed antics when she was younger in the first film but now she just comes across as a pissy teen with a potty mouth.

Mindy continues to train Dave Lizewski (A buffed up and way too older looking Aaron Taylor Johnson) in the ways of being a superhero but her plans to continue being Hit Girl are shot down when her adoptive father, Det. Marcus Williams (Morris Chestnut) forces Mindy to adapt to a normal life in high school which to Mindy, involves being part of a clique of pompous and horny Cheerleaders.

Wadlow’s exploration of both Dave’s and Mindy’s life in high school and at home with their Dads (The great Garret M. Brown returns as Dave’s Dad) is capable and even a bit refreshing but it can feel a bit forced in order to establish the disparities. Can’t really blame Wadlow since all of this is totally Millar’s world and in his universe the meta charm of all of this kookiness is a strong asset. But it can get a little weird though, like when Mindy gets “date ditched” and runs to Dave for consoling. Her revenge tactic is really foul because it eventually leads to vomiting and diarrhea for the very same clique she so wanted to fit into. It’s kinda funny but ultimately pretty gross.

Dave loses his girlfriend and starts a separate team of heroes after Mindy bows out. This is when we get introduced to a variety of colorful team members like Dr Gravity (Donald Faison) and Colonel Stars and Stripes played by Jim Carrey. Carrey is surprisingly good here and his uptight and proper heroism is refreshing and funny. Even when siccing his dog “Eisenhower” on the groin of a bad guy.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse returns as Chris D’amico and he is just as big a dick as he was in the first film. Even more after he offs his Mom (Who actually does not die in the books) and adopts  funky S&M garb left by her to become “Motherfucker” all while being watched over by the like-able Javier, played pretty well here by John Leguizamo. After he recruits his own bunch of misfits like the disturbingly macho and rock solid “Mother Russia,” Chris goes on a crime spree to prove himself to his remaining family and to get revenge on Kick Ass, who dispatched “Motherfucker’s” father in the first film. Mintz -Plasse is really just annoyingly hammy and unimpressive here. He just does not click at all with what is going on. It may be his approach or maybe his hysterical delivery of rote lines of dialogue, but he manages to remain flat and bothersome for some reason.

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Remaining spoiler free, here, I can go on to say that “Kick Ass 2” has it’s share of Mindy/Hit Girl mayhem with some other pretty cool confrontation scenes that lead to the huge superhero/villain showdown that is just average and middling. There is plenty of gunplay. With copious amounts of stunts, explosions, funerals gone awry, machine guns, limbs cracking and breaking and even a shark in a tank. A van chase with Mindy duking it out with some armed bad guys was a highlight. The fights are choreographed well and the graphic violence quite appropriate in keeping with the style and tone of the books. Wadlow tries to follow Millar’s world but deviates greatly and I think it was a bad decision. The meta parody is too much here and the movie becomes a mess with everyone scrambling to hold it together. With Carrey off screen, too, I even wished for Nic Cage to make an appearance.

The film has merit in places but it is fleeting. Hokey fights, stunts and suburban violence to Cops gets pretty tiresome pretty fast. After a while I really didn’t care for all of these guys like I did in the first movie. Taylor-Johnson was ok but I felt he should have laid back a bit on the beefed up appearance of Dave. He emotes with his eyes and he was capable when he needed to be. He had the chops I suppose but I dunno, I may be missing something. In closing, I wanted to like it a bit more but I will leave it up to you guys. Am I being too harsh? The movie displays some neat comic book action and fun but I didn’t care for all of the characters and their story arcs that much and something about Wadlow’s look and feel left me cold.

“Kick Ass 2” felt uninspired for me. It was a rehash of sorts that was too visually unimpressive and cheap feeling to leave an impression. It is a sequel that should have been just left to the books until a more capable filmmaker would come along to give Millar’s story some real meat. Some humor is there but the film is carried by Grace-Moretz and not Taylor-Johnson. She is the reason why the film works the way it does even though she appears too mature to play a 15 year old. Carrey, Chestnut and Faison are very watchable as is Leguizamo but Mintz-Plasse fares badly. If you need a quick comic book action fix that has very little brains and brawn then give this one a go but you are warned. This sequel just doesn’t Kick Ass. (Yeah, I went there.)

Keep an eye out for UFC legend Chuck Liddell in a pretty entertaining cameo.

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