Director: Jeff Wadlow
Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz
2 (out of 5) Globes
Mark Millar’s “Kick-Ass” comics are “Watchmen” where the makeshift not-so-superheroes actually get to, well, kick ass. They have no significant neuroses. There is no deep deconstruction of comics. It's not a realistic twist on comics — it's mere superficial fun. Early on in the first movie sequel, the new guardian (Morris Chestnut) of purple-haired, pint-sized vigilante Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) voices an understandable concern: A little girl ought not to be masquerading as a violent avenger. He forces her to actually attend the school she would previously skip, and introduces her to a gang of evil Heathers who could potentially turn her into a real monster.
Not that it ever means to meaningfully explore this idea; it’s just mere meat to feed the plot. Ditto the main thread, which follows nerve-frayed teen Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) as he joins a gang of copycat wouldbe-vigilantes, including a bullied gay kid and a mom with a brick in her purse. Its leader is its version of Captain America: a demented, born again sadist played by Jim Carrey. It’s a mild spoiler to reveal that Carrey gets little to do, and is given no chance to establish his presence beyond a gruff New York accent and a fake nose.
The villain this time is the son of the previous one: Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s mafia scion has rechristened himself the S&M-garbed “The Motherf—er.” He’s an incompetent baddie, but he solves his problem the ideal way: with money. He’s out to avenge his father, killed by Kick-Ass in the first via rocket launcher. Again, this possibly trenchant storyline — our well-meaning hero has made things worse, creating the bad guy of the sequel — is only there to give the audience a rise. Like all the other shocking things that happen in “Kick-Ass 2” — including a couple significant deaths — it happens, it’s forgotten about and it’s on to the next shocking twist.
Millar recently (and justly) raised concern when he defended the repeated use of rape in his comics, saying they were just there as plot points to get readers angry at the perpetrators. This obliviousness carries through onto the films. The first was peppy enough — and clearly cared when Nicolas Cage’s Batman-ish father perished — that the novelty of its design more or less got a pass. “Kick-Ass 2” needed to deepen the world, but it only makes it slightly — and not significantly — grittier, with action scenes that lean towards the more hand-held. It slightly atones with a Brigitte Nielsen-esque Amazon villain (Olga Kurkulina), who brings forth the only set piece worth remembering in six months.