Grade: C- (2/5 stars)
2010’s “Kick-Ass” was daring, stylish, and fresh. It divided many people, including the late Roger Ebert, with its gratuitous violence and preteen girl-hero slicing off the heads of villains, calling them “the c-word” and other names one wouldn’t expect to hear from someone so young. 2013’s “Kick-Ass 2,” which opened in theaters nationwide on Aug. 16, doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. It’s a less violent and more sentimental affair this time around, and it puts the characters in a more realistic world than its predecessor.
Director Jeff Wadlow makes “Kick-Ass 2” a more down-to-earth film, putting our heroes in more human situations and having them understand that the world around them is not a comic book. Sure, we still see Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) slicing off a guy’s hand and poking another guy’s eye out with his own finger, but the film also places the viewer in the shoes of Mindy Macready – the teen under the mask – as she experiences her freshman year in high school. Her father, known as Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage), was killed in the previous film, and she is now in the care of a bodyguard named Marcus (Morris Chestnut). He advises her that she needs to drop the Hit Girl persona and focus on being a real kid. But her real life isn’t what she wants; she’s constantly bullied at school by the narcissistic cheerleader, Brooke (Claudia Lee), and she has yet to kiss a boy.
Now, as for Kick-Ass/Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), he’s been kind of lying low as he gets ready to finish his senior year of high school. But the impression he left on New York City in the first movie has inspired a lot of other people to create their own superhero persona. One of those is Colonel Stars and Stripes, an ex-mobster turned born-again Christian played by an unrecognizable Jim Carrey. It’s a bummer that Carrey has distanced himself from this film, saying that the real tragedies of Aurora and Sandy Hook have changed his mind on its level of violence; his performance is actually the film’s best part.
Dave wants to suit up again and have Mindy/Hit Girl as his sidekick. But Mindy can’t, due to Marcus’ orders. Once Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), formerly known as Red Mist, plans to seek vengeance against Kick-Ass, he decides to become the first real super villain. After his mom’s untimely passing, Chris looks through her belongings and comes across a dominatrix costume. A light bulb goes off inside his head, and the snooty brat becomes known as The Motherf*****. Of course, it’s unedited in the film itself. Upon first glance at Chris as The Motherf*****, it’s a ridiculous chuckle. As the film progresses, the costume’s shock value begins to fade, as does the rest of the movie.
Kick-Ass eventually runs into a group of people known as the Justice United, which consists of people who have become superheroes because of the green spandex crime fighter. The Motherf***** assembles his own squad, too, but none of the names he gives them are politically correct or original. But he doesn’t care; he just wants an army, so he can take out Kick-Ass.
There comes a point in the movie where it’s just one big sigh after another. Wadlow doesn’t have the same directing technique as Vaughn, and he tries to stuff the film with a lot of different characters and a lot of over-the-top, uninspiring action sequences. When Kick-Ass and the Justice United square off against The Motherf***** and his squad, what is supposed to be an epic battle turns into an epic letdown. The style feels like every other action flick out there, and the humor is more reliant on wearisome gag jokes than trying something new. The “sick stick” makes a comeback, and people who are attacked by it are shown vomiting and having CGI diarrhea. Mintz-Plasse is more annoying here as the rich, egotistical Chris D’Amico, who feels that the whole world should revolve around him, and Johnson doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time, even though the film’s title comes from his superhero name. There is a scene at the end of the credits, too, but – just like the movie – it’s underwhelming.
“Kick-Ass 2” is now playing at Cinemark 14 in Chico. Click here for showtimes.