Directed by Jeff Wadlow - Written by Jeff Wadlow - Produced by a ton of people and... Brad Pitt? - Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Morris Chestnut, Jim Carrey, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, John Leguizamo, Lindy Booth, Donald Faison
Let me get this out there right now: I really loved Matthew Vaughn's original Kick-Ass. It was irreverent, over-the-top, violent beyond belief, and hugely entertaining. All of the characters had their moments: Nicolas Cage gave his role as Batman knock-off Big Daddy his all, Aaron Taylor-Johnson was a relatable, geeky kid turned superhero, Chloe Grace-Moretz was just plain fantastic as the shockingly profane daddy's girl, Hit-Girl, and what can I say... it's impossible for Mark Strong not to be a good villain. So does Jeff Wadlow's new sequel, Kick-Ass 2, stand up to the strengths of the first one? No, it doesn't. Was it a disappointing sequel? Not really, no. I'll try to dance around some plot points (who kills who, so on and so forth), because it's one of those movies during which you say to yourself "they're not going there"... until they do. But that's another discussion. So it's four years after the events of Kick-Ass and Dave Lizewski's war against crime as the titular superhero has inspired a whole movement of everyday citizens donning costumes and becoming do-gooder heroes of their own. After the death of Big Daddy, Mindy Macready, aka Hit-Girl, is living with her guardian Marcus who's constantly battling her to give up the path that her dad put her on of battling crime in favor of living out her remaining teenage years as a normal girl (school, slumber parties, Union J and the like). All is not well though, for Chris D'Amico (Red Mist) is plotting his revenge against Kick-Ass for the death of his crime-boss father, soon assuming the alias of "The Motherf*cker" and using his inheritance to organize a vicious gang of super-villains, "The Toxic Mega C*nts" to take down Kick-Ass. I said it was profane didn't I? The only people to stand up to them: Kick-Ass's own team of superheroes, "Justice Forever", led by the enigmatic Colonel Stars and Stripes and made up of a myriad of wannabe heroes and heroines. Tensions erupt, a crackdown on superheroes commences, and it's war in this bigger, badder, and darker sequel.
Whereas the first film benefited from all-around great characters, the standout in Kick-Ass 2 is easily Hit-Girl. By far the most interesting and lovable character after the death of Big Daddy, Mindy has assumed center stage for the sequel, even if the film is still called Kick-Ass. It's really her movie and Chloe Grace-Moretz carries it well, avoiding entirely repeating the foul-mouthed, daddy's girl shtick of the first film but still retaining the heart of Hit-Girl. She's matured four years since the events of Kick-Ass and I think writer-director Jeff Wadlow and Chloe Grace-Moretz handled that well, especially with the scenes of Mindy's Meangirls-like rite of passage. Since the sequel largely deals with the ripple effect caused by Kick-Ass in the first film, there are also a ton of new, masked faces that you'll get a kick out of (Doctor Gravity and Night B*tch, for instance), but you may be left yearning for a little more of Justice Forever. Also great is new addition Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes, almost unrecognizable due to some light prosthetics and Carrey's uncanny, chameleon-like ability to morph his facial features and voice. Kick-Ass 2 has gotten a lot of attention for Carrey's refusal to publicly support the film because of its violence but I'd ask you to judge for yourself (and watch Carrey's performance... does it look like he's not having a good time?). As Chloe Grace-Moretz has remarked, "If you are that easily swayed, you might see 'Silence of the Lambs' and think you're a serial killer. It's a movie and it's fake." That being said, though, there are likely to be a thousand topics and situations in this film that could potentially rub people the wrong way. Consider yourself warned. It's an offensive, violent and irreverent film and some people can sit through that and be entertained and others will feel only shock and disgust. Wherever you think you fall on that scale will likely govern how much you enjoy or hate this film. All in all, it's not quite as balanced, witty, or heartfelt as Kick-Ass, but Kick-Ass 2 is still an entertaining continuation of the series.
See it: If you were a fan of the first film or are open to a marriage of super heroism with an irreverent, Superbad attitude.
Pass: If names like "The Motherf*cker", "Toxic Mega C*nts", "Night B*tch", etc. automatically turn you off to seeing a film for, while not as violent as Kick-Ass, this sequel jacks up the offensiveness via crass run-ins with everything from murder to sexuality to racism to bullying to rape (the latter of which being the only time that I thought Kick-Ass 2 majorly over-stepped the line drawn by the first film).
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