Kick Ass 2 Review
When "Kick-Ass" was released in 2010, it can be said that I lost my mind over it. It was a faithful adaptation of the comic, but it also became something of its own. I think the end result really works. Its a demented, confident, funny, outrageous, offensive and brilliant superhero movie. A movie that is completely in love with what it is, but it never gives up its soul.
I wish I could say the same about "Kick Ass 2," they had the perfect comic sequel to adapt from. Sadly, they barely use that inspiration. A lot of the subplots this second time out are distracting rather than intriguing, and honestly they do not go anywhere. The funny, crazy humor of the first film gets sacrificed for sappy, emotional beats that don't add up. None of the characters are really fleshed out enough for any of the emotional stuff to really pack a punch. Despite a great, no-pun-intended kick ass last half hour, "Kick Ass 2" is surprisingly flaccid. Instead of upping the ante on everything that made the first film great, they tell a boring story that doesn't go anywhere fun or cool.
As the sequel picks up Mindy/Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) is being forced by her new guardian (Morris Chestnut) to lead a normal, high school life. However, that doesn't stop her from training Dave/Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) how to fight, as he joins Justice Forever. Justice Forever is a superhero group that was inspired by Kick-Ass, led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey) together they are making a difference in New York City. That difference is tested when Red Mist/Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plosse) returns as "The Motherfucker," a crazy supervillain who does recruiting of his own. Chris wants revenge for his father's death and he goes through unspeakable means to get it. And yes, all of this leads to a big showdown.
I'll give this sequel a couple points. The performances are there across the board. Taylor-Johnson really steps it up in the sequel, and comes off much more natural and believable. Moretz, once again, delivers a nasty awesome Hit-Girl, sadly though, there is not much Hit-Girl in this outing and that's sad. Jim Carrey is a real surprise and no doubt the highlight of the movie. I love his make-up just as much as his gimmicky voice. However, much like Hit-Girl, he is gone before we ever get to love him. If it weren't for Carrey being as popular as he is, the character would not have been on any of the posters. Mintz-Plosse is an okay actor and to be honest, I don't really think he stands out much here.
There are so many colorful characters in this sequel that add to the fun. Clarke Duke who was always spot-on as comic relief in the first film returns and does some fighting himself as "Battle Guy." Donald Faison is surprisingly touching and endearing as Dr. Gravity. I don't think I can write a review of this movie without mentioning Mother Russia. She's a big presence in this movie, too bad she's reduced down to a barely eligible henchmen. Chris' right-hand man Javier is brought to great life by the always-superb John Leguizamo, he does really great and I really wanted more of him.
That's the biggest thing I took away from this sequel, wanting more. When I walked out of the theater back in 2010, I felt refreshed, rejuvenated, like I hadn't breathed for a millennium. Here, I it was more of a "meh." The characters we grow to love do not get fleshed out, there screen time is replaced with offensive, unneeded rape jokes and subplots we don't need. Nobody really wants to see Hit-Girl get a bunch of "popular girls" sick. We'll see plenty of that with Chloe come this October in "Carrie," put back the hard laughs and crazy action of the first film. Most of the humor in this movie isn't even that funny and lands with a big thud. All the humor felt very natural in the first film, which is disappointing. The first and second acts of this movie are so slow that when the movie finally picks up in the third act, it feels like too little too late.
As the film draws to a close and the big fight between heroes and villains unleashes, it was sad to figure out that it didn't live up to the climax of the first film. The big fight at the end of "Kick-Ass" seems rehashed from the first film. The Motherfucker fights Kick-Ass, Hit-Girl fights Mother Russia, we see our heroes get beat up pretty bad while the bad guys spout out corny one-liners and yadda, yadda, yadda. The first film worked for me because everything that led up to its climax was earned and I believed the characters I saw. We spend so little time in the sequel getting to know our new characters that we just don't care if they get hurt or die. And for the characters we do know? They are not pushed forward in anyway. "Kick-Ass 2" ends up being a rowdy, decent sequel and its really too bad. Despite some great performances and good action beats, I just can't give my entire heart over to this sequel.
I apologize for referencing the first film so much in this review, but that is part of the point. If I can't get the first film out of my head as watch the sequel, then there is definitely something wrong with it.
FINAL GRADE: C+