When I first saw Kick-Ass in theaters back in 2010, I was surprised to see something more than just the Superbadclone I was expecting. I was enthralled with the film’s innovative mesh of explicit violence and delightfully light-hearted humor, but the no longer under-the-radar franchise fails to live up to expectations with its recently released sequel.
Kick-Ass 2 is bipolar. Although parallel plot lines had the potential to merge into something great, they abruptly trail off right before the film demonstrates some trace of its predecessor’s appeal, dividing the film into two almost entirely different halves.
The first half of the movie starts off with Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) training Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) as the two prepare to clean up the streets of New York City. However, this promising partnership is rapidly cut short as Hit-Girl, somewhat suddenly, retires. As a result, Kick-Ass teams up with Justice Forever, a group of vigilante superheroes led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), while Hit-Girl becomes normal Mindy Macready full-time and attempts to survive high school. As the two main characters go their separate ways, so too do their plot lines.
This section of Kick-Ass 2 resembles what I imagine the spawn of Mean Girls and The Justice League would look like on steroids. Hit-Girl’s high-school plot line mimics Moretz’s own performance, alternating between moments that impress and others that annoy. While some scenes provide impressive satirical humor and convincing emotional turmoil, others are heavily exaggerated and end up being disappointingly cheesy. Meanwhile, Kick-Ass’ involvement with Justice Forever is significantly more exciting as it serves to build toward the actual climax of the film. However, these scenes, too, are riddled with corny one-liners and unnecessary commentary about how crude or inappropriate certain jokes are.
As the title character and his new group of friends attempt to organize a collective effort to fight crime, we follow Red Mist’s (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) comically disturbing transformation into the self-proclaimed super villain named Motherf—er. Eventually, the limited success of Justice Forever instigates the already on-edge Motherf—er’s mercilessly vengeful plot to kill Kick-Ass and bring chaos to the city. An evil army with brilliantly stereotypical characters is rounded up to bring the end of the vigilante movement, and the film finally picks up from where its prequel left off.
In the second half of the film, the audience is greeted by the revenge-fueled rampages of both the good guys and the bad, as they set the scene for an epic final showdown. Violently choreographed action sequences, disturbingly creative deaths and surprisingly touching moments mark the climactic build-up to a battle between good and evil that will leave fans inching toward the edge of their seats.
Kick-Ass 2 is an entertaining film, especially if you don’t mind gory violence and incredibly crude language. The plot struggles preliminarily, but eventually gets its act together to create a powerful message that reminds the audience that the vigilantes and villains are real people whose lives are dramatically affected by their actions. This element prevents the film from erring toward violence for the sake of violence and adds more depth to it than just generic comedy.
Overall, the film does justice to the comic book genre. Corny plot devices and dialogue prevent the movie from fully developing its main characters, as suggested in its slow beginning. However, the final half of the film truly is exhilaratingly intense and provides some surprisingly sentimental moments that give sense to the unadulterated violence. The film has entertainment value, but it falls short of its first installment, which really did kick ass.