Mark Reviews Movies

Kick-Ass 2


1 Star (out of 4)

Director: Jeff Wadlow

Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, ChloŽ Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey, Morris Chestnut, John Leguizamo, Donald Faison, Olga Kurkulina, Clark Duke, Lindy Booth, Claudia Lee, Augustus Prew 

MPAA Rating: R (for strong violence, pervasive language, crude and sexual content, and brief nudity)

Running Time: 1:43

Release Date: 8/16/13

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Review by Mark Dujsik | August 15, 2013

Even more so than its predecessor, Kick-Ass 2 presents a nihilistic view of the "real world." It's a place where people have no choice but to dress up in silly costumes like the superheroes from comic books about whom they once only fantasized. Evil is free to roam and do its nasty business because, the movie argues, the police either don't care to stop crime or are too incompetent to do so.

This is the "real world." The screenplay by Jeff Wadlow (based on the comic book by Mark Millar and John S. Romita Jr.) repeatedly has characters saying so, sometimes preceded by the line, "This isn't a comic book." The idea is that the stakes are somehow higher, because in the "real world" a man or woman dressed up in a skin-tight costume doesn't have superpowers or a bunch of gadgets to help him or her fight crime. No, they come to a fight with muggers or mobsters only with their self-imposed training to fight and maybe weapons like baseball bats or batons or knives.

The point is that they're the underdogsóthat criminals, not citizens or police, are really the ones with the power. According to the movie's philosophy, the only way to fight lawbreakers is to work outside the law.

At least there are repercussions here, though those consequences are only presented as a greater reason for the hero and his fellow phony superheroes to keep up with and escalate their workóanother excuse for brutal violence to answer brutal violence. The movie is full of mixed messages like that one. It wants to have its cake and pulverize it until there's nothing but crumbs and frosting all over the place, too.

After the events of the last movie, the adventures of Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), aka Kick-Ass, and Mindy Macready (ChloŽ Grace Moretz), aka Hit-Girl, have inspired others to put on costumes and fight crime in their own way. Dave, who's since retired from the superhero business, is feeling a bit underappreciated and decides to team up with Mindy, who's still acting out upon the impulses instilled in her by physically and psychologically abusive father (Remember, this is the "real world," where shooting one's daughter in the chest would most decidedly be abuse; Mindy does the same thing to Dave in the movie's opening scene). After her guardian Marcus (Morris Chestnut), her deceased father's former partner on the police force, learns that Mindy is still engaging in vigilantism, he turns a promise she made to her father against her, and she starts attending school like a normal teenager.

Meanwhile, Dave joins up with a team called Justice Forever, led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey) and populated by other costumed crime-fighters, like a married couple (Steven Mackintosh and Monica Dolan) whose son went missing and young woman seeking to avenge the murder of her sister who calls herself Night Bitch (Lindy Booth). They start off with community service and eventually start looking for gangsters to pummel.

On the evil side of things, Chris D'Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), the son of a mob boss who Kick-Ass killed with rocket launcher, has decided to get revenge by dressing up in a bondage outfit and dubbing himself a vulgarism that expresses maternal incest. Using the fortune he's inherited, he recruits as many murderers and psychopaths as will join him in his quest to become the world's first super-villain and kill Kick-Ass.

The movie is once again incredibly violent while preaching how despicable violence is. It all depends on who's doling it out, one supposes. Our heroes chop off a man's hand (after fair warning) and repeatedly stab a foe with shards of broken glasses. Actually, that's just the 15-year-old Hit-Girl, whose experiences with the popular kids in high school only end up making her feel more vengeful against the world. The villains launch a lawnmower at cops as they explode in blood and gore and otherwise beat and maim people in horrific ways. In the movie's most misguided scene (That's saying a lot), Chris threatens to rape one of the superheroes but finds that he's physically unable to do so, which at once exploits and makes light of rape.

Kick-Ass 2 is confused until the very end, as the hero's nagging narration informs us that it's ordinary people being heroes and not fake superheroes who will save society as he prepares for the next incarnation of his fake superhero identity. This is an ugly, ugly movie.

Copyright © 2013 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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