‘Kick-Ass 2’ retains original’s mix of wit and violence

Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Moretz are back for more in 'Kick Ass 2'
Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Moretz are back for more in ‘Kick Ass 2’

The first film based off a work by Mark Millar was Wanted, which was a horrible butchering that turned a unique comic into a generic action movie. But Kick-Ass got it right, with a proceeding that was anything but generic. Luckily Kick-Ass 2, despite a change in directors and studios, keeps up the same manic blend of humor and violence.

Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz), or Hit Girl, is now in the same high school as Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), or Kick-Ass. As the story begins, she is still putting on the purple wig and going out cracking skulls while he has stopped but wants to start again and asks her to rain him. In the midst, her guardian Marcus (Morris Chestnut), a detective and her late father’s partner, discovers what she’s been up to and makes her promise to quit. Dave however suits up again and joins a group of vigilante heroes who were inspired by Kick-Ass to take action. Led by former mafia enforcer Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), Justice Forever also includes his high school friend Marty (Clark Duke) and Night Bitch (Lindy Booth), who becomes a romantic interest; Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca) dumps him when she overhears an argument he has with Mindy and mistakes them for lovers.

Meanwhile Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and “Alfred to [his] evil Bruce Wayne” Javier (John Leguizamo) have begun a plan to take revenge on Kick-Ass for the death of the former’s father. Scrapping the Red Mist identity in favor of fetish gear and the title “The Motherfucker”, D’Amico then assembles a diverse group of henchmen who he gives some very ethnically-questionable names.

Jim Carrey joins in on the fun in 'Kick Ass 2'
Jim Carrey joins in on the fun in ‘Kick Ass 2’

An interesting thing happened following the release of the first film: it more or less came true. Phoenix Jones (secret identity Benjamin Fodor) led his own vigilante group in Seattle called the Rain City Superhero Movement. His exploits, much like those of Kick-Ass, have been filmed and uploaded online to (cumulatively) over a million views.

Whether it were intentional or not, the story feels like a critique of this movement. The members of Justice Forever are shown as well-meaning but for the most part in way over their heads. As the events of the story unfold, the main message seems to be that this kind of vigilantism brings consequences and in some respects makes things worse.

Other than that, you’re in for the same sort of trip its predecessor delivered. This is easily Jeff Wadlow’s best film and proof that he is more than capable as a writer/director. Once again Moretz comes away some of the best moments and lines, though her now being older dulls the impact a little.

But it’s Carrey who’s a standout. The series seems to have a desire to get a name actor for a supporting hero character. Occupying the position that Nicolas Cage held in the previous film, he plays a special kind of insanity that it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing yet distinct from his frequent persona. It’s just a shame he isn’t in it more.  If there is another go round, it’s interesting to ponder who will be next (Robin Williams maybe?).

This summer has largely been one of disappointment and disaster, but Kick-Ass 2 is a bright spot as it draws to a close. Better luck next year. Bring on the fall.

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