Kick Ass 2. (2013). Run time: 113 mins. MPAA: R (for strong violence, pervasive language, crude and sexual content, and brief nudity). Starring: Aaron Taylor Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Jim Carrey. Written and directed by Jeff Wadlow.
When Kick-Ass was released in 2010, not too many people knew what to think. It was a superhero movie, but it was much, much different than the average superhero movie. It wasn’t even the fact that it was R rated that got people’s attention. It was the fact that it was filled with vulgar language, sex, and graphic violence, and most of it involved teenagers. That can be a serious thing. But the movie was called Kick-Ass. What did they expect? Critics really liked it. Most teens that saw it liked it. And I loved it. I think it’s one of the coolest comic book movies ever made. It really gave fans high hopes for director Matthew Vaughn, whose next directorial effort, X-Men: First Class, was set to release a year later, and he hit that out of the park as well. But now we have Kick-Ass 2, produced by, but not directed by Vaughn. This second time around it’s Jeff Wadlow at the helm, the guy behind _____. I know. It sucks. However, I have to say, I think most critics got this one wrong. Way wrong actually. I really, really liked Kick-Ass 2.
When Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) gets with a group of average citizens who, like himself, dress up like superheroes to defend the common good, he is met with a new threat, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), formerly the superhero Red Mist, who is now hell-bent on revenge for the murder of his father. Now a super villain named the Motherfucker, D’Amico sets out to destroy Lizewski’s alter-ego, Kick-Ass, along with the other superheroes in the group, including Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). Meanwhile, Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace-Moretz), aka Hit-Girl, is trying to fulfill her new guardian’s wishes that she not be like her father (Nicolas Cage) and that she stop being a superhero, and by doing so she tries to adapt to typical high school teenage girl life. And that about sums up the plot. And it’s nothing but a good time.
It’s been three years since Kick-Ass released, so it’s only natural that the three leads (Taylor-Johnson, Moretz, Mintz-Plasse) look substantially older than their roles require them to be. Aaron Taylor-Johnson did great work as Kick-Ass in the first film, and he’s back in full form with the second. The age jump really doesn’t even become bothersome. At all. He’s just awesome in this role. Christopher Mintz-Plasse returns, this time donning the evil cape as the first ever super villain, the Motherfucker. He’s awesome as well. I mean come on. Just think about how ludicrously hilarious that is. A villain named the Motherfucker is facing a hero named Kick-Ass. It’s hysterical. And Mintz-Plasse brings what he needs to bring to the role. He never ceases to amuse. Supporting work in the film features Morris Chestnut, Garret Brown, and Clark Duke, all returning from the first film and doing good work, and also some new performers, including Augustus Pew as Ass Kicker, Donald Faison as Dr. Gravity, Robert Emms as Insect Man, and Lindy Booth as Night Bitch, and they all do fine jobs in their supporting superhero roles as well. And then there’s Jim Carrey. Where has this guy been? In my opinion, he is the king of comedy. Not very many actors could make me laugh like he could in the 90s. Dumb and Dumber, Liar Liar, The Cable Guy and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, just to name a few. But he’s also a comedian that can actually act in dramatic roles. See The Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I personally thought he gave one of the best, if not the best performance of his career in I Love You Phillip Morris. But apart from those few films, what has Jim Carrey done of merit in the past decade or so? Yes Man? The Incredible Burt Wonderstone? He was hilarious in Burt Wonderstone, but I guess point is that he hasn’t been in any good movies, he’s just good in bad movies. It’s a little different here. He’s awesome in this movie. Sometimes I have to say he doesn’t look or even sound like Jim Carrey, but he’s there, and he’s hilariously awesome. But my only problem is that he doesn’t get enough screen time in my opinion. In Kick-Ass they had Nicolas Cage and he was one of the best parts of that movie, and he was in there for a good amount of time. Here, Jim Carrey almost feels wasted. He’s great, and I’m certainly glad they put him in there, but it just feels like they wasted him. On the other hand, though, the show stealing performance, just as it was in Kick-Ass, is that of Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl. She was the frontrunner of the original film’s controversy, given that she was thirteen years old and she was swearing and violently kicking ass, but she did it anyway, and she returns again doing it here, but less so than in Kick-Ass. By the way, what is it with Moretz playing mostly weird or supernatural characters? She was a vampire in Let Me In and Dark Shadows, she’s a socially awkward teenage superhero in these two films, and she’s going to be playing a socially awkward teenage telekinetic in Carrie. I think the only normal role she’s played was in Hugo. She’s turning into a little Johnny Depp, just a lot cuter. But she tears it up once again as Hit-Girl, but the cool thing is that Kick-Ass 2 focuses more on her adapting to high school life, and I thought they did a really good job with that, and Moretz dialed in a great perfomance.
As far as directing goes, Jeff Wadlow didn’t do a bad job at all. Having only directed Cry Wolf and Never Back Down, I was sincerely worried, but he did a good job at capturing the over the top stylized violence that made the original Kick-Ass such a hit. Sometimes he falls short, sometimes the green screen is way too noticeable, and sometimes the drama really just doesn’t work, but for the most part, he did a fine job at recreating Matthew Vaughn’s original style.
FINAL THOUGHTS: If you go into this movie expecting anything other than a fifteen year girl kicking ass, then don’t even go. Kick-Ass 2 suffers from drama that doesn’t click and a serious lack of screen time for Jim Carrey, but apart from that, this is a completely entertaining ride from start to finish. Featuring some great performances, especially that of Chloe Grace Moretz, and some awesome action sequences, Kick-Ass 2 does what it needs to in order to be considered a worthy sequel to its predecessor, even if it doesn’t quite live up to it.