Kick-Ass 2 (2013) Movie Review

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Aaron Johnson and Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass 2 (2013) Movie Image

It’s weird, as I walked out of the theater, I was aware that there are big problems with “Kick-Ass 2,” but on the whole, I had been reasonably entertained over the previous 103 minutes. With some movies, distance smooths over the rough patches, and the more you think about them, the more you examine them, the more you enjoy them. “Kick-Ass 2,” however, is not one of those movies. There was a long bus ride home after the screening, and the more I thought about it, the more I broke the film down in my mind, the more glaring, and troubling, the flaws became.

On the surface, without considering anything deeper than eye candy, “Kick-Ass 2” is fun enough, though scattered and empty. But as it goes on, the movie falls apart. The pieces don’t fit together well, it fails to bring the same hyper-violent satire of the first film, and you’re left with a sub-par rehash. It’s entertaining, and there are hammy, over-the-top moments, but there’s a sensation that you’re watching a Day-Glo “Death Wish.” In fact, an early scene where Dave/Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) goes trolling to be mugged, is lifted straight out of that film. The first film tread that fine line between myth and reality, but this time out, the effort is clumsy as the villain tweets about everything he does, and wants to be caught on camera in order to go viral. The movie wants to have something to say about such hyper-aware culture, and violence, but doesn’t.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse in Kick-Ass 2 (2013) Movie Image

The story picks up in the aftermath of the first film. In the wake of Kick-Ass’s success, a whole slew of costumed heroes patrol the streets, and everyone who has ever been mugged, bullied, or pushed around, has donned a mask. But poor Dave is bored as hell. Having hung up his skintight outfit, he simply sits on the couch with his old man, watching TV and going stir-crazy. There’s a mild try at having some family conflict, but after one shot they shrug and give up. The other leftover from the first film, Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz) is still training as Hit-Girl, but has embarked on a harrowing new adventure, high school. Attempting to navigate the politics of being a teenage girl proves just as treacherous as entering a crack den armed only with a penknife. On the other side of the coin, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), formerly the Red Mist, is consumed by a thirst for vengeance against the vigilante who exploded his father with a rocket launcher. Eventually Dave climbs back into his suit, and joins up with a team of superheroes named Justice Forever. Chris realizes that he, as the son of a dead gangster, is destined to be a super villain, The Motherfucker. His super power is that he’s “rich as shit,” and bankrolls his own gang of dastardly evildoers. It’s an obvious, easy, inevitable collision, while Mindy floats aimlessly around.

Mindy’s story is generally the most compelling angle of “Kick-Ass 2.” She tries to balance the promise she made to Big Daddy, to never stop defending the city, while navigating the pressures of growing up, and dealing with creepily sexualized classmates. Her struggle is primarily with self-identity: is she the costumed vigilante with a potty-mouth and tons of killer moves, or is she a young woman trying to figure out who she really is? Which is the real costume? Dave is just bored and looking for some action; and Chris is so spastic and single-minded that he’s impossible to take seriously. The problem with Mintz-Plasse is that he’s always going to look like a nerdy high school kid. Though that’s what he’s supposed to be, you don’t buy him as an evil mastermind, and that’s even with him perpetrating a variety of heinous acts that people usually consider wicked. He’s a spoiled rich kid playing dress up.

Jim Carrey in Kick-Ass 2 (2013) Movie Image

Eventually, the film stoops to poop jokes that, while they may get a momentary laugh, are too dumb to do much. Even normally funny people like Clark Duke and Donald Faison fail, repeatedly, to deliver. Overall the movie makes a vain attempt to stay true to the elements that made the first one so much fun, but there are moments that leave a weird, lingering taste in your cinematic mouth. A lot of the film comes across as mean-spirited and hateful. You get what they’re trying to do, every racist, homophobic, misogynist remark is supposed to serve as an indicator that the villains are, in fact, bad people, despite a cartoonish veneer. Which they are, you get that from brutal murders. It seems strange to say that, in a movie where a mugger gets his hand lopped off by a little girl, and where a Russian in a bikini takes out half of a police force, a few spoken words can make you so uncomfortable.

And “Kick-Ass 2” is a movie that desperately wants to make you squirm. The tone bounces from fun and dressing up in cool outfits to dark, grim, and violent at the drop of a hat. This was part of the joy of the first movie, how it makes you complicit in the act. It creates a desire inside you to see this violence, you’re almost giddy with anticipation, but when the deed finally goes down, it’s such a visceral act that it gives you pause and you question whether or not you like this or not. This is the same arc travelled by our gang of makeshift superheroes. When Justice Forever embarks on their first mission, to take out a nefarious human trafficker, everyone is pumped, but when Jim Carrey’s Colonel Stars and Stripes pulls a gun, reality sets in, this isn’t a game, and people may really get hurt and die. Like with everything else, “Kick-Ass 2” is a flat, dull recreation of elements that worked once. You can’t relive that glory. One of the best scenes in the first movie is when a heavily armed Hit-Girl blasts her way through countless faceless bad guys. You might notice in “Kick-Ass 2,” that guns are almost entirely absent, and when they do show up, they are either empty and impotent, or quickly discarded in favor of a slick arm bar.

Jim Carrey in Kick-Ass 2 (2013) Movie Image

“Kick-Ass 2” also falls into that all too familiar trap in superhero lore of having female characters that only exist as sex objects, and to endure a trauma—invariably sexual in nature—in order to fuel the hero’s righteous anger. The “woman in the fridge,” if you will. Hit-Girl is a strong female personality, badass, capable, smart, a fully drawn character with emotions that allows her to examine her choices and situation. Night Bitch (Lindy Booth), the only other prominent female, is just there to hump the shit out of the main character in bathroom stalls, and to almost be raped—which is then turned into a joke—to make Kick-Ass even angrier. It’s cheap, manipulative, and, frankly, a lazy way to tell a story, relying on half-assed manufactured sentimentality in lieu of actually bothering to develop characters, relationships, or legitimate emotion.

The entire movie is a quick, cheap shadow of the first film. Mildly entertaining on a very superficial level, “Kick-Ass 2” is, at best, a bumpy, uneven ride. In trying to hit the same notes as its predecessor, and missing every one, you can’t help but walk away feeling disappointed and let down.

Jeff Wadlow (writer/director)/Mark Millar (comic)
CAST: Aaron Taylor-Johnson…Dave Lizewski/Kick-Ass
Chloe Grace Moretz…Mindy Macready/Hit-Girl
Christopher Mintz-Plasse…Chris D’Amico/The Motherfucker
Morris Chestnut…Detective Marcus Williams
Jim Carey…Colonel Stars and Stripes
Clark Duke…Marty


Buy Kick-Ass 2 on DVD

Author: Brent McKnight

Brent McKnight lives in Seattle with his dogs. He likes beards, movies where things explode, and overcast skies. His three favorite movies are "Rubin and Ed", "A Bittersweet Life", and "Out for Justice". He wishes his knees didn't hurt. On Twitter @BrentMMcKnight
  • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

    Sad to hear it. Still going to go though. The comic was good, but it too felt like it was just kind of trying to one up the first book in terms of shock value. I like most of Millar’s works and I did enjoy Kick-Ass 2 but without the Hit-Girl mini it was very one note. The movie mixes the two series together so you see things happening simultaneously on congruently with other events.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

      Ironically, for a franchise called “Kick-Ass”, Kick-Ass has always been the weakest link. This should have been a Hit-Girl movie, with Kick-Ass doing a quickie cameo at the end.

      • Brent McKnight

        Amen to that.

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

          That’s what the Hit-Girl comic was basically. He popped up early on but that was it. Kick-Ass 2 actually has very little Hit-Girl in it as she’s concentrating on being Mindy for the sake of her family.

      • schnydz

        I came here just to post that very idea. They should’ve dropped Kick-Ass 2 and gone with Hit-Girl instead. Not only does Chloe Grace Moretz have some serious acting chops, but her character could have actually been the fist successful Female comic character on film. In my mind anyways.

        • ErickKwon

          Crap, didn’t occur to me until just now that there really hasn’t been a successful comic book heroine yet. That’s just sad. Makes me hope that the reboot Batman in “Man of Steel 2″ brings along a Carrie Kelly “Robin” with even half of Hit-Girl’s energy

  • ErickKwon

    Based on this and some other negative reviews, sounds “Kick Ass 2″ may be a better reflection of Mark Millar’s juvenile non-franchise work like “Wanted”, “Nemesis”, and “Kick-Ass” itself than the first movie was. So no thanks

  • Juggernaut

    I don’t know what movie you saw but Kick-Ass 2 was great! I disagree with you completely on every level. It is an above average sequel and a pretty awesome movie in general. If you liked the first film you will like this one. Go see it for yourself.

  • InvaderDim

    Kick Ass 2 is a fantastic comic, written by one of the best in the business (Mark Millar, http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Millar) and penciled by one of my favorite comic book artists (John Romita Jr, http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Romita,_Jr.).
    The comic(s) are very violent and very entertaining, the comics are
    written in a way (meaning they’re written very well) that makes you care
    about the characters so much so that you feel a deep sting, angry or
    anxious when a hero falls and heroes fall in the worst ways in these
    comics, trust me, they’re not “feel good” comics. Even when the villain
    “gets his” at the end of the series, you still feel the terrible sting
    deep in your belly due to the irreparable damage they caused in Kick
    Ass’s life. Read the comics, they’re worth it.

    Kick
    Ass 2 THE MOVIE is a total let down, especially for the fans of the
    comics. When I first heard about Kick Ass 2 becoming a movie I feared
    that the content would be too violent (children get shot, people get
    raped and there are a couple of pivotal decapitations barely any of this
    makes it into the movie), but my fears were put at ease when I read an
    article about Kick Ass 2 talking about how the book and the movie were
    identical. We were lied to. This is a sad attempt to mimic Kick Ass 2.
    Plot points are randomly changed for no reason or for possible time
    constraints (which could be resolved with quick flash backs) Hit Girls
    story is so brutally changed that it causes a lack of sympathy towards
    her guardians and her struggle to quit being hit girl and become a
    “regular girl”, no vomit stick in the comics, just plain ol’ fists of
    fury. The lack of a relationship between Dave and his father (in the
    movie) makes the pivotal and inevitable plot twist less of a shock than
    it could’ve been. The sound track is terrible, the gore is lame (and
    barely existent, especially in comparison to the book), the camera work
    falls far too short from representing the comic style, plot changes
    galore that water down relationships between characters and pretty bad
    acting too. This movie plain old sucks and if you were going to spend
    $20 to see this in the theater, DON’T. Go to Four Aces Comics in
    Abbotsford (not C4 in Chilliwack, he sucks) or Taz Comics on East
    Hastings and PICK UP THE COMIC set for $20. They have better writing and
    artistic flair than the neutered Kick Ass movies. Oh, Mother Russia was
    pretty cool but not as cool as the Mother Russia in the comics. Obvs.

    2/10.