At the Movies: Kick-Ass 2

If I were in Serious Film Critic mode I would’ve spent the week watching “Jobs” or “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” But Serious Film Critic is still on vacation. Instead: “Kick-Ass 2!”

When last we left Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), aka Kick-Ass. and Mindy Macready (Chloë Grace Moretz), aka Hit-Girl, they had given up their lives as costumed vigilantes for the mundane world of high school. Or so it appeared when the credits rolled.

Mindy, still compelled by her late father’s mission, skips school and continues her one-girl war on crime. Dave becomes restless and wants to join Mindy, but first he’s going to need a lot more training.

944132_10151750451331412_90901361_n.pngWhen Mindy’s guardian (Morris Chestnut) finds out about her extra-curricular activities she’s grounded and forced back to school, ending her partnership with Dave.

In the meantime, the legend of Kick-Ass has caused many equally inept individuals to don capes and cowls and take to the streets. Some of them team up to form a team led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). Without Hit-Girl for a partner, Kick-Ass joins “Justice Forever.”

Elsewhere in the city, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) has decided to become a super-villain and get revenge on Kick-Ass for blowing up his father with a bazooka. His super-villain name? Well, I can’t say it on a blog that members of my family read. We’ll just call him “The M-F.”

Subtlety is a concept totally unknown to the people behind “Kick-Ass.”

Based on the comic book by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., “Kick-Ass 2” is written and directed by Jeff Wadlow. It suffers from the same problems as its predecessor. For one, the tone is i tll over the map. One minute it’s a superhero satire, then it’s a ultraviolent action flick, then it’s an outrageous bodily humor comedy,  then it’s a high school dramedy and back and forth it goes. One minute they’re trying to draw out sincere human emotion, then it’s back to the jokes and the blood splatters.

Worst of all, the series continues to want to have it both ways: it wants to pretend that this is what being a superhero would be like in the “real world,” but then goes to levels of absurdity even a comic book wouldn’t touch. This is a movie where the characters frequently exclaim “this isn’t a comic book!” and then a Russian assassin takes out a half-dozen police cars in ridiculous ways.

But the film also shares the one main strength of its predecessor: Hit-Girl. This pint-sized amalgamation of Batman and The Punisher is such a fun and compelling character. Whether she’s taking on drug dealers or cheerleaders, Mindy Macready’s story is what makes “Kick-Ass 2” worth watching. Moretz really makes you feel for Mindy.

“Kick Ass 2” is not a great film and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone other than fans of the original. But I enjoyed it for what it was, even if it was mainly a mess, primarily due to Moretz. I couldn’t care less about seeing Kick-Ass again but I’d be all in favor of a Hit-Girl spinoff.

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