Review: Kick-Ass 2
Self-made teen superhero Kick Ass and his partner, 15-year-old Hit Girl, adjust to their new respective lives as their former foe in Red Mist seeks revenge for the death of his father.
Aaron Johnson returns more confident and physically impressive as the titular masked vigilante. Chloë Grace Moretz is superb once again as the foul-mouthed and violent Hit Girl, while Christopher Mintz-Plasse goes to some dark places as a new super villain. Jim Carrey is Colonel Stars and Stripes, and very likeable yet weird.
The original film in this inventive action comedy series is Kick-Ass, a title that provokes, but also refers directly to its main wannabe superhero, Kick-Ass. The real star though, was Hit-Girl, a violent preteen raised to fight and kill. If only perhaps the second installment in what will surely be a trilogy was named after the more precocious and compelling of the characters, it would have had more of her in it, and in turn been far more interesting.
Instead, Kick Ass 2 finds a trio of teens, Hit-Girl, a proven fighter who knows not normalcy, Kick-Ass, a hero in training, and the rebel formerly known as Red Mist (he has a new, more adult name this time around), all fighting against their guardians for independence and respect. Each have only a father figure in their lives at this moment (Hit-Girl and Red Mist lost their biological fathers in the first film), and each parental guardian attempts to curtail the caped tomfoolery.
As Red Mist plots revenge against Kick-Ass, hiring a group of mercenaries and giving them costumes and racist names, and Kick Ass aligns himself with a clan of ordinary justice fighters (including an intimidating Jim Carrey), Hit-Girl’s story is most fascinating and original, and unfortunately given divided attention.
Now 15-years-old and under the supervision of her father’s colleague, Hit-Girl can’t help but skip school, train, and seek out ne’er-do-wells to take down. It only lasts so long though, as she is forced to put away her mask and cape and make a sincere attempt at an honest life. A tangent that involves Hit-Girl being forced to hang out with her school’s version of The Plastics sends up superficiality and rottenness wonderfully.
Eventually, of course, she returns to action, and it seems too easy – just as everything else does in this incredibly violent, very funny sequel. Helmed now by Jeff Wadlow, Kick-Ass 2 evokes Joss Whedon’s The Cabin in the Woods, in which a genre is simultaneously subverted and embraced. Wadlow isn’t as convincing or dedicated as Whedon, and the results are mixed. He mocks revenge movies by creating a wannabe sociopath who quickly turns heartless and brutal. There is a particularly long and often uncomfortable stretch where Red Mist goes on a bloody rampage targeting those closest to Kick-Ass.
It’s as if Wadlow wants to cross boundaries and to try and shock a desensitized generation back to reality. And the word ‘reality’ is thrown around a lot, as it seems these youthful masked marauders don’t have a firm grasp on it.
Neither does the film, as it were. It oscillates far too quickly and easily between the mischievously cartoonish, and the hyper violent. In one moment, Red Mist is spit-balling with his body man (John Leguizamo), the next he leading an army of death and destruction. Of course everything leads up to an epic encounter, something telegraphed from the beginning, but along the way we had to be occasionally serious, but all of it is interrupted by teenage antics, hormones, and silly personas.
Simply, Kick-Ass 2 wants to have things both ways; it wants to send up as well as employs. It works at times, but while laughing as you do a lot during it, you’ll also recoil. The language, the violence, and the innuendoes don’t just cross the line, they barrel through it. Maybe it’s what audiences need to get back to reality, or maybe it’s just much too much.
Should You See It?:
It stands alone as a film, but if you loved the first one, you should enjoy the handling of the characters. However, you’ve been warned.