8/22/2013 - Regular-joe-avengers assemble for another round of costumed superhero mayhem in Kick-Ass 2, a movie that takes whatever was fun and original about the first Kick-Ass, bludgeons it with a utility belt and then smothers it with a dirty cape.
David Lizewski, a.k.a. Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), has hung up his green spandex but longs to get back out there, fighting crime, particularly if he can partner with hardcore legit superhero Mindy Macready, i.e. Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz). But Mindy, who continues to don the purple wig and zoom around the city on her tricked-out motorcycle, isn’t sure she wants a partner. And, anyway, her guardian Marcus (Morris Chestnut), her batpoop-crazy father’s former police partner, wants Mindy to cool it with the superheroing and try to be a normal teen girl.
Meanwhile, the fire lit by Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl has people all over the city wearing superhero costumes and joining superhero teams — and, in the case of the vengeful Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), turning supervillian. Still crazed over the death of his gangster father at the hands of Kick-Ass in the first movie, Chris decides to become The Motherexpletiver and gather his own gang of costume-wearing toughs to help him find and kill Kick-Ass.
Kick-Ass 2 has a few nice moments. Occasionally, it introduces some reality into the idea of crime, criminals and crime victims. When Kick-Ass meets up with a superhero team, they include a husband-wife pair that calls themselves Remembering Tommy (Steve Mackintosh, Monica Dolan), after their young son who went missing. There’s something poignant about the idea of parents turning to comic-book costumes to deal with their grief. For a series that poses the question “what if superheroes were real?”, this moment felt like something true to that.
Meanwhile, Mindy attempts to figure out how to navigate normal teen life. Her best moment comes when she’s at a sleepover with popular girly girls. With her weapon collection and her aggressive potty mouth, she might not understand their lipstick and nail polish world, but they show her a boy band video and she finds herself feeling very teen-girl thoughts about the bushy-haired, dreamy-eyed guys. It’s a cute moment that is funny and genuine and gives the character layers.
Way more often, however, the movie is not this. It is a blunt instrument, a toddler’s crayon when we want a fine point pen. It replicates many of the same beats from the first movie — in particular with a character called Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey) who is a nearly exact stand-in for Nicolas Cage’s Big Daddy character — but without the charm or humor that made them feel fresh. “Let’s just do the first movie again, more or less” is what this movie’s operating philosophy seems to be. The characters don’t grow or change, really; they just relive, with less energy, their earlier paths. C-
Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, crude and sexual content and brief nudity. Directed by Jeff Wadlow, who also wrote the screenplay based on comics by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., Kick-Ass 2 is an hour and 43 minutes long and distributed by Universal Pictures.