Kick-Ass 2 is much of the same, a film that wants to repeat the success of its predecessor but ultimately feels too safe and convoluted. The film feels more centered on Hit-Girl than the title character, which makes the pacing and structure feel very odd and out-of-place; I like Hit-Girl as a character, and her scenes work but they feel a bit sidelined when they’re far more interesting than the central premise. 2010’s Kick-Ass stands as one of my favorite comic book films, because of its unabashed love for the material and an inventiveness in its approach to violence. It was pure, goofy fun that was fueled by social commentary. This new entry feels as if it’s forcing every message and making it painfully obvious, constantly repeating the idea that these are real people, that they’re not actually superheroes, and that there are real-life consequences.
The movie follows Dave/Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) after he’s the first public superhero, and his exploits to recruit Mindy/Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) to team with him. She’s recovering from the death of her father, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage), and is being cared for by a bodyguard of sorts (Morris Chestnut). He wants her to quit fighting crime because she needs to live a normal teenage life, but Mindy won’t have that; after certain circumstances, she changes her mind. Despite Dave’s best efforts, he can’t get her to join, leading him to Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), a leader of a strange group of superheroes that wants to do good. They ultimately face the Red Mist/the Motherf***er (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who wants revenge against Kick-Ass for his actions in the first film.
The shining light of the film is Carrey, who’s excellent and seems to be having a subtle blast with his character; it’s a shame that he’s not in the film nearly as much as one would hope. The movie’s faults lie within its far too eventful screenplay. There’s so much happening to characters and around characters that the plot moves strangely and unnaturally, with character development being pushed aside with the exception of Hit-Girl. Moretz is very good here too, but she’s also surrounded by a movie that gives every character too much motivation. The death of a loved one is more than enough, but Kick-Ass 2 doesn’t believe so, adding too much fuel to an already strong fire. It amounts to a film that wants to be fun, zippy, and intelligent like the original, but comes across as a try-hard that pales in comparison to the former’s originality.
Grade: ★★½ (out of 5)