As Big Daddy once said, maybe they should have called it "Ass-Kick".
Considering how much I enjoyed the first, I have to say I was really disappointed in Kick-Ass 2. The quickest summary I can offer is to say that it's an example of a sequel made by someone that didn't quite understand what made the first one work. It's not even a case of sequelitis where they tried to one up everything. It follows a similar formula to the first, but the whole time you can't shake the feeling that it's missing something, like Nic Cage. Say what you want about Nic Cage these days, but he was the highlight of Kick-Ass, and what does it say about your film when adding Nic Cage would have been an improvement?
Kick-Ass 2 picks up in a logical progression after the first. Dave, a.k.a. Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), has hung up his tights, but has inspired many others to also take to the streets as superheroes. He decides to get back out there himself, but realizes he needs some actual training to be more effective. He enlists Mindy, a.k.a. Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), to help him and wants them to become a crime-fighting duo. Hit-Girl is still at the top of her game as she won't give up as a promise to her Dad. However, after being caught by her guardian (Morris Chestnut), she promises him that she'll give up crime fighting and give normal life a chance.
Meanwhile, still upset over the death of his father, Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) rebrands himself as "The Mother Fucker". Nope, that's not a joke, but it's an example of some of the failed attempts at them throughout. The Mother Fucker wants to be the world's first super villain, and assembles a group of villains to counter Kick-Ass' team of heroes. However, his only real goal is to get revenge. Theres a throwaway line about having a larger plan, because all super villains needs to have a master plan, but there's nothing to it and it all takes a backseat to the revenge plot. Since he's only after Kick-Ass, but not the world at large, he never feels like that much of a threat and the stakes aren't all that high.
While all of this is going on, Mindy is attending slumber parties, trying out for the cheerleader squad, and then dealing with bitchy high school girls. Tonally, this feels like a completely different movie that has little to do with the main plot happening around her. If Kick-Ass 2 had been called Hit-Girl and was completely focused on her attempts to be normal and then getting back in the game, then I think it would have worked better. She's the most interesting character in the film anyway. Instead we have all of these different plot threads going on and are introduced to a bunch of new characters that aren't given much screen time.
Considering all the characters and plot threads, it felt like this would have been great a TV show stretched out over a season or two. This way you can get to know all the minor characters and are given reason to care about them. From what I'm reading online, Kick-Ass 2 is based of both the Kick-Ass 2 and Hit-Girl series (12 issues total), and writer/director Jeff Wadlow was pretty faithful to the comics. However, the fact that it was 12 issues brings me back to the point that this being made into a series might have been a good idea. I'm thinking Hit-Girl in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer type show.
Another reason why Hit-Girl is the most interesting is due to Chloe Grace Moretz. She's got a lot of charisma and carries all of her scenes. There are moments where you actually feel for her character and her struggle to balance her life. I didn't mind Aaron Taylor-Johnson, but the issue is that Kick-Ass really isn't that compelling of a character, especially when compared to the first film. I felt like they were both trying their hardest at times to give something to their roles, but it's difficult when their motivations are all over the place. They give up or get back into crime fighting on a whim. When Kick-Ass pleads with Hit-Girl to join him, she says stuff like, "You just don't get it" or "You wouldn't understand". Well, explain it to us then, because I don't get it and I don't understand. You didn't have a problem sneaking around behind your guardian's back before, so why is it such an issue now?
For all the stuff we heard about Jim Carrey's role and issues with the movie, he's really not in it all that much or much of a focus on the story. It's a violent role for sure, but I find it odd he didn't have issues with it while making the movie, especially when it looked like he appeared to have fun with it. I was also bummed out that Donald Faison was added to the cast and not given more to do. As a huge fan of Scrubs, I know how funny he can be, so I was disappointed in his lack of screen time. Christopher Mintz-Plasse had some good moments as The Mother Fucker, particularly when playing off John Leguizamo, but again, it felt like there were a lot of opportunities to do more with the character that were missed. Some of the roles from the last film were recast, and Dave's girlfriend, Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca), is written out of the story within a few minutes. They break up and Dave doesn't seem the least bit conflicted by this. In fact, he moves on to another girl (Lindy Booth) at the first opportunity.
Where the first Kick-Ass had a certain wit about it, that was completely missing here. I didn't find anything funny at all, and the dialog was so flat throughout. There's no witty banter or sarcastic comments, and that was desperately needed. Some of the humor came from the fact that you're watching an 11-year-old brutally and gleefully murder bad guys. However, Hit-Girl is now 15 and a pro at this, so that novelty has worn off. Plus, the violence felt creative the first go around, but here it just felt like standard action movie stuff. It also didn't feel as realistic or that there was as much consequence to it. Kick-Ass was over his head when he first started crime fighting and took a lot of punishment as a result; you don't see that here. Both films relied too much on CG blood, but it stood out as more of a flaw in Kick-Ass 2.
At least Kick-Ass isn't using Myspace anymore. He's got Facebook account now. Even the Mother Fucker posts his exploits on Twitter.
Missing all the wit, charm, or genre deconstruction of the first, Kick-Ass 2 is a disappointing sequel. It's not the worst thing I've seen this summer, but it could have been so much better. The tone of the film is all over the place and there are too many undeveloped characters and plot threads. The end result is just a generic action film. Save it for rental.
2 (out of 5) Death Stars