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Kick-Ass 2

kick-ass-2-movieDirected by Jeff Wadlow
Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jim Carrey, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, John Leguizamo, Donald Faizon, Clark Duke

Three years after the joyfully anarchic and playfully offensive Kick-Ass comes this belated sequel, which delivers more of the same to somewhat lesser effect, while still remaining largely enjoyable.

A few years after the events of Kick-Ass, the titular everyman superhero, known to friends and family as Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), has inspired countless others to take up cape and cowl in the cause of justice, and is seeking to connect with others in the nascent hero community. Conversely, the ferocious Hit-Girl hangs up her guns to wrestle with a challenge more terrible than a thousand mob goons – navigating the treacherous terrain of high school society. Meanwhile, weakling mafia scion Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) takes on the nom de guerre of The Mother Fucker and, styling himself as the world’s first super-villain, plots vengeance against Kick-Ass.

The plot flows organically from the climax of the first film, raising the stakes and expanding the film’s scope in a logical manner. A lot of the fun comes from meeting the other loose units who have taken on secret identities, such as the amiable Doctor Gravity (Donald Faison, and it’s nice to see him again); the rather tragic Remembering Tommy (Steven Mackintosh and Monica Dolan), a husband and wife team who took to hero-ing in tribute to their abducted son; and especially Jim Carrey’s maniacal but good-hearted Colonel Stars & Stripes, a former mob enforcer turned Born Again Christian and gleefully violent vigilante.

Yet, while there’s plenty of violence – albeit mostly non-lethal this time around – and lashings of profanity, Kick-Ass 2 often feels like it’s trying too hard to shock while at the same time refraining from anything really transgressive. When the first film hit a good chunk of the world lost their minds at the sight of an 11 year-old girl calling people cunts before slicing them into quivering piles of sushi; having a 15 year-old do the same thing has less impact.

Also, the film seems to have little clue as to what to do with the character of Kick-Ass himself. While he fulfils his role as a moving part of the plot engine and suffers his share of tragedies to motivate him toward action, he’s by far the least interesting of the lead characters, with the ridiculously talented Moretz eclipsing our nominal lead in pretty much every respect.

Still, it’s all a lot of fun, if not nearly as much fun as the first instalment. Perhaps we could chalk that up to familiarity, perhaps to the obviously lower budget – there are some CGI effects that are wince-inducing in their obviousness – and perhaps to writer/director Jeff Wadlow (Cry_Wolf, Never Back Down) not possessing the tonal dexterity of previous helmer, Matthew Vaughn. Kick-Ass 2 is loud, proud, crass and, here and there, even impressive, but it’s also pretty disposable, which could well have been the intent.

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