Title: Kick-Ass 2
Does It Kick Twice As Much Ass As The Original? Possibly. I never saw the original (I was in newborn baby enforced lockdown in 2010).
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Three Felix Leiters out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Teen vigilantes mete out messy justice, question futility of man's transient existence. Just kidding about that last part.
Tagline: "You can't fight your destiny."
Better Tagline: "Holy shit! Union J is a real band!"
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Taking place ... shortly after the events of the first movie, Kick-Ass 2 finds Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) returning to his superhero ways, joining a team of similarly costumed vigilantes calling themselves "Justice Forever" and led by ex-Mob enforcer Colonel Stars & Stripes (Jim Carrey). Mindy "Hit Girl" Macready (Chloë Grace Moretz), meanwhile, retires from the superhero life at the urging of her guardian, Marcus (Morris Chestnut). On the other side of the cape, the villain formerly known as Red Mist (Chrisopher Mintz-Plasse), still vowing revenge against Kick-Ass for killing his father, assumes a new identity ("The Mother Fucker") and uses his family's wealth to assemble a group of bad guys to get rid of Kick-Ass once and for all.
"Critical" Analysis:I gather Kick-Ass 2 is similar to Kick-Ass in the sense both are remarkably vulgar and extraordinarily sanguinary. I make these assumptions largely thanks to having read my share of Mark Millar's comics back in the day, and less because of the outcry I vaguely remember from the time of the first movie's release.
That hullabaloo will most likely be muted this time, now that Moretz is 16 years old (that being the cut-off point for when we stop being squeamish about murderous teenage girls, I guess). It's a good thing she stuck around, mostly because having a teenage character played by an actual teenager is a welcome change (Taylor-Johnson is 23, for example). The fact she so easily fuses adolescent awkwardness with lethal marksmanship/hand-to-hand skills doesn't hurt either.
Writer-director Jeff Wadlow (taking over for Matthew Vaughn) wisely expands both the good and bad guy pantheons, introducing characters from the sublime ("Night Bitch") to the ridiculous ("Doctor Gravity," an underutilized Donald Faison) to the sublimely ridiculous ("Mother Russia"). I don't know who's ripping off whom here, but Mother Russia looks almost identical to "The Russian" from Marvel's The Punisher, and both are just 'performance enhanced' versions of From Russia With Love's Red Grant.
This is why Americans can't take Vladimir Putin seriously as a villain; he's not blond enough.
Even Colonel Stars & Stripes is a refreshingly (relatively) straight character for Carrey. Since we're speaking of rip-offs, however, I should point out the Colonel's attack phrase for his German shepherd ("Shvantz") is remarkably similar to Milo Pressman's command for Chopper in the movie Stand By Me. In this case, at least, we get to see the outcome.
Of course, there are concerns about the movie's violence here as well. Carrey famously distanced himself from the final product following the Newtown massacre, which forces us to ask two questions: 1) is he a hypocrite? And 2) is he right?
It's Hollywood's version of the duck test: if it sounds like a marketing stunt and drums up publicity like a marketing stunt, well, you make the call. Depending on who you ask, Carrey was either unaware of the amount of violence (he doesn't have much screen time in KA2) or he experienced a 180 degree change of heart. Did he not read the entire script of this one? Or did he just not want to field Jenny McCarthy-related questions on the press tour?
Is Kick-Ass 2 violent? Of course it is (what fun would all this hand-wringing be otherwise?). Mother Russia kills ten cops in a variety of creative ways, while Hit Girl shoots, stabs, and dismembers all manner of bad people. I guess I'm still confused about the negative reaction to the assumption that quote-unquote superheroes might inflict severe bodily trauma in the course of their workday. The Avengers destroyed half of Manhattan defending it from an alien invasion, while in Man of Steel, we have Superman accomplishing what Osama bin Laden only imagined in his wildest (non-Condoleezza Rice related) dreams, and that was while trying to save Metropolis.
Collateral damage: it's not just for the "War on Terror" anymore.
Kick-Ass 2 is in theaters today. It's just a movie, everyone.
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