Kick-Ass 2 Directed by: Jeff Wadlow Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey Running Time: 1 hr 42 mins Rating: R Release Date: August 16, 2013
PLOT: Violent vigilante Hit-Girl (Moretz) hangs up her weapons and tries to become a regular ninth grader while original hero Kick-Ass (Taylor-Johnson) joins a group of other costumed crime fighters.
WHO'S IT FOR? Teenagers who sneak into R-rated movies; human beings who consider cussing to be an act of rebellion.
Probably more than its predecessor, Kick-Ass 2 is a film that is thoroughly, unmistakably, and unforgivably wrong. Worst of all, it is this level of wrong for no reason but to provide a false rebellion for its main audience, who will likely be lending Lee Daniels' The Butler their financial support because they'll have to sneak into this one. Kick-Ass 2 is in such sour taste that witnessing the movie brandish its multi-million dollar bratty middle finger in the face of just morals becomes a severe distraction from trying to accept the film as an actual movie thing with a story and performances, etc.
This second movie follows its three characters as they attempt to belong to a group, a type of regular high school dilemma for movies, but this time expanded upon with their extra-curricular activities of fighting/creating crime. Neither Moretz nor Taylor-Johnson really make these character placements interesting, but at least Mintz-Plasse makes for three or four amusing scenes in which he randomly decides with a rich kid's resourcefulness that he will be a super villain. As with the previous Kick-Ass film, his idea of taking on this comic role within an established real world loses its funny edge once he actually starts embarking on such childish, but desperately violent chaos.
Moretz's Hit-Girl continues to be a grating "Kidz Bop" production with the swears kept in, stating one-liners that play against the notion of creativity and instead revel in her weakness as a written character forced upon her audience. After witnessing a thug constantly call Kick-Ass a "f*****", she drops into the scene with this remarkably clever line: "You know, all that homophobic shit makes you sound super gay." Even more so than her second appearance here (this film is in part produced by her brother, Trevor Duke-Moretz), her character shows its plastic roots, less some type of reflection about the tumultuous relationship between adolescents and progressively available adult content, but more the demand of a movie that will do whatever it feels like to get cheap amusement.
As its ideas begin to run low, Kick-Ass 2 displays even less charm by becoming uglier and meaner. Mintz-Plasse's character "The Mother F*cker" has an uncomfortable moment in which he intends on raping a female hero creatively nicknamed "Night Bitch," with the moment only disarmed by his own inattentive bloodstream. Worse than that, Kick-Ass 2 finally recognizes the monumental hilarity in parents who live with the pain of searching for their missing child, setting two plain bread parents as two of the film's heroes, with their lost kid's picture on their t-shirts. LOL! Shocking! "Poochie is one outrageous dude, he's totally in my face!"
Attempting to lure kids into its Poochie D-like existence with bright colors and the promise of more naughty chaos than what those other PG-13 superhero movies can provide, Kick-Ass 2 has a phony attitude. For those who embrace immature expressions in a misguided and ironic attempt at trying to not look like dumb kids, this movie is but yet another stroll down to Spencer's Gift Shop, complete with dirty words and graphic content that stinks not of bad-ass (or kick-ass, hehe) R-rated anarchy, but demographic desperation.
Well aware of its existence in an age of cinematic superhero overpopulation, Kick-Ass 2 yearns to dish out some contrarian disses to other comic book characters and their sequel-ed sagas, but its own hypocrisy fails to let this happen. Instead, Kick-Ass 2 name-drops other franchised crusaders only for the sake of re-familarizing us with them so that it can later borrow from their arcs, with no reflective commentary in sight, only geeky laziness. The film further entertains a hero's hypocrisy with its conclusion, with a voice-over stating that there has to be an end to this story, something not agreed to by the useless stinger later at the end of the credits.
Catering to its audience with junky content, Kick-Ass 2 treats its script like pop culture ad libs, using hashtag jokes that surprisingly don't involve some nudge about a zombie apocalypse. A strong example can be found when Moretz's Hit-Girl takes an extremely original stance on contemporary music when she states she'd "rather be water-boarded than listen to Justin Bieber." Further stemming from this fake attitude is the unbelievable B.S. that this movie tries to pull on its audience in serious moments. Amidst its juvenile violence, Kick-Ass 2 aims to have a message about "real heroes," where you don't have to fight crime to be a hero, "you just have to be brave."
This experience further confirms the disturbing phoniness of the attitudes of this now franchise. These two movies are based on the changing of specific variables that are nonetheless crucial to the franchise's overall desire to exist. For example, instead of adults dealing out the lead heroism, its squabbling high schoolers. Instead of PG-13 content, it's super R-rated stuff, especially in terms of its violence which is more Troma-esque than anything seen in a recent superhero movie. Most of all, these Kick-Ass movies take place in the real world (a piece of dialogue repeated three times, in case you missed the hammer on your head the first time), as opposed to that of a comic book. The identity of this franchise is extremely average aside from its sole super power, which is that of having an R-rating.
For a movie that prides itself on the mindless violent spectacle it can provide, these moments themselves are even largely underwhelming. With editing making the stunt performers' work distractingly even more obvious, certain parts can be as shoehorned as Moretz's accompanying dialogue. A shootout on top of a van has the scene ensue with a forced delivery of the line "Game on, c**ksuckers," which rings more like someone trying to get away with saying such words, then a classically bad-ass action zinger. This then becomes one of many scenarios in this film in which the pivotal elements of action aren't creative so much as they are gruesome, which is likely the only standard that this film sets for itself.
As evident in the thousand movies about revolutions opening up this weekend (Jobs, In A World ..., and Lee Daniels' The Butler) a revolution needs to have a point. Kick-Ass 2 confuses the sole disregarding of morals for a totally ballsy act of adolescent activism, when it really just makes its existence as pandering megaplex shock comedy all the more pathetic. Hey Kick-Ass 2, want to know a secret to being taken seriously? Growing up.
FINAL SCORE: 2/10