By Marty Mulrooney
Kick-Ass 2 is an action-comedy film written and directed by Jeff Wadlow, and co-produced by Matthew Vaughn (who directed the original film Kick-Ass in 2010). Aaron Taylor-Johnson reprises his role as Dave Lizewski, a teenager who fights crime as his superhero alter ego Kick-Ass. After the events of the first film, ordinary citizens have been inspired to become real life ‘superheroes’, but former superhero Red Mist has other plans – to become the world’s first super villain, ‘The Motherfucker’!
Kick-Ass 2 begins with Dave Lizewski desperate to put his Kick-Ass costume back on – but this time, he wants to be a real superhero. He begs Mindy Macready (aka Hit-Girl, now 15-years-old) to train him. She eventually agrees, but must prepare Dave in secret. Her guardian, hardworking policeman Marcus, has made her promise to never again put on the Hit-Girl costume. Instead, he wants her to live the life of a ‘normal’ teenage girl and leave the crime fighting to the police.
Meanwhile, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is consumed with rage over the death of his criminal kingpin father at the hands of Kick-Ass. After accidentally killing his mother, he becomes head of the house and decides to use his near limitless wealth to become the world’s first super villain, The Motherfucker. With the help of his bodyguard Javier (played by the always enjoyable to watch John Leguizamo), he starts paying top dollar to recruit an army of super villains.
Kick-Ass 2 is split into several separate narratives of varying success that all come together at the very end. After being trained by Mindy (Chloe Grace Mortez), Dave becomes Kick-Ass once again and joins a team of heroes called ‘Justice Forever’. Led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (a scene-stealing Jim Carrey as you’ve never seen him before), the group mostly perform community service (many heroes don’t actually ‘fight’ crime) with the occasional brothel raid for good measure. With Hit-Girl retired, Mindy is forced to face the trials and tribulations of school, contending with bullying girls who she sadly can’t kill and a life that she doesn’t know how to live.
Of course, Mindy soon becomes Hit-Girl once again and it’s during these scenes that the film truly comes to life. Although she’s no longer quite the pint-sized dealer of death she once was, Mindy still looks youthful enough to shock with her skill at dealing out extreme violence in the name of justice. Much of the violence is too comical to take seriously (which is just as well, otherwise it would be hard to stomach) but Hit-Girl is never played for laughs. She’s a total bad-ass and is fast becoming an iconic character in both the worlds of comic books and cinema.
In the end, it’s the performances (along with the laughs) that make Kick-Ass 2 worth seeing. Jim Carrey delivers a genuinely believable tough-guy and although his screen time is limited, he makes every second count – he’s a joy to watch and it’s a shame that he declined to promote the film (although his reasons are understandable). Elsewhere, Christopher Mintz-Plasse finally manages to shake off his ‘McLovin’ persona to become a somewhat threatening bad guy – the one misstep of his character is down to the script rather than his acting and involves an allusion to rape that thankfully never occurs, but still doesn’t sit comfortably as acceptable joke material.
Overall, Kick-Ass 2 delivers on a smaller scale than its predecessor. Much of the shock-value has dissipated by now, but despite a mostly ho-hum plot and some underdeveloped side-characters and subplots, the main event is still worth the ticket price. Chloe Grace Mortez looks like she’s having the time of her life and she more than supports the weaker aspects of the production with her witty one-liners, perfect timing (dialogue and action) and commanding purple-wigged screen presence. Over violent and purposely offensive, Kick-Ass 2 (much like the original film) won’t be for everyone – but if you’re a fan of comic book fantasy, you’ll be guaranteed some great performances, solid action sequences and plenty of laughs.
8 OUT OF 10