So much could’ve gone wrong(and as it is, quite a few things did), that I suppose I should be somewhat relieved that it wasn’t worse. I can’t exactly label it good, but there are occasions where it almost reaches the top rung. But everything is just a little bit off in this 2013 sequel…and regular readers of this blog certainly are aware that the original “Kick-Ass” was one of my very favorite films of 2010(see an extensive appreciation in my “Flashback” category). So, needless to say, Part Two had a lot to live up to. I appreciate that it maintained a sadistic tone. It’s a huge plus that they got the principle cast back. Unfortunately, the change in director(from now A-lister Matthew Vaughn to newbie Jeff Wadlow)appears to have been a bit too much to bear. Jeff Wadlow certainly gives it his best shot, but it ends up that he just didn’t have the chops to pull this kind of thing off, just yet. But it ain’t a disaster, so let’s count our blessings.
High School student Dave “Kick-Ass” Lizewski(a returning Aaron Taylor-Johnson, at 22 during filming, he is on that cusp of appearing too old for this “shit”), already growing bored and unfulfilled after “retiring” from crime-fighting at the end of the original film, decides to suit up again and defend the meek. Before long, he is hooked up with a similar group of civilian crusaders, led by the fiftyish Colonel Stars and Stripes(a darn solid Jim Carrey…well before he decided to denounce this movie’s violence in the press). There are also colorful characters named Night-Bitch(the sultry Lindy Booth)and Dr. Gravity(a funny and spirited Donald Faison). Lizewski buddy Marty(Clark Duke is back)even gets in on the act as Battle Guy—but feels the need to steal Batman’s origin story! The team’s first adventure goes swimmingly, but of course the victory is short-lived. The vengeful Chris “Red Mist” D’Amico(indispensable Christopher Mintz-Plasse)is back, only now he’s calling himself “The Motherfucker”, and he wants Kick-Ass dead for the murder of his father in the original film. And it just might be up to the incredible(yet reluctant)Mindy “Hit-Girl” Macready to bail Dave and all of his vigilante pals out, with her remarkable combat skills. That is if she can first topple teenage angst, and her new prima donna, high school, rich-bitch “friend”.
For one thing, the shock value is now gone. Rapidly maturing(and very pretty)Chloe Grace Moretz was 12 when the first was filmed and now 15 for this. It’s a world of difference witnessing a pint-sized, foul-mouthed grade-schooler as a female assassin, and having a nicely filling-out teenager performing the same duties. The filmmakers realized this, and attempt to fill-in the blanks with typical peer pressure issues. Alas, only some of it succeeds(although the cafeteria “vomit-stick” scene is more gross than anything else). All the performers are up to the task though, and everyone gives it an aggressive shot. Jim Carrey works some wonders with his few key scenes, but he’s still simply an inferior substitute for the amazing Nicholas Cage, who didn’t make it alive out of the first film as Damon “Big Daddy” Macready(strong homage is paid to the character throughout the sequel). Also, Dave’s girl from “Kick-Ass”(Lyndsy Fonseca as Katie)seems to be thrown into the proceedings briefly, for no good reason whatsoever. And the tone is always just a beat off. Plus, whereas the demise of Big Daddy in film #1 added tremendous gravitas to the original venture, the somewhat similar death of a character’s parent in #2, feels overly callous and out-of-place. Finally, I guess director/screenwriter Jeff Wadlow doesn’t do a horrible job, but he just can’t seem to give this return the “kick” it needs. I steered clear of “Kick-Ass 2” when it was in theaters, but felt the disappointment level would be weaker viewing it at home. I think I was correct. Lots of violence, of course, and although they make it to the end—methinks this is the last we will see of Dave “Kick-Ass” Lizewski and Mindy “Hit-Girl” Macready. It was fun while it lasted, if only for a brief shining moment. Or two. Grade: C+
next film review up: 2014’s “The Nut Job”
next theatre review up: Broadway’s “Machinal”