“Kick-Ass 2” Movie Review

      As a sequel, “Kick-Ass 2” is forced to follow your usual followup conventions by increasing and out doing what the filmmakers thought made the first installment a modest hit.  To say you’re going to up the violent nature of the original is saying a lot, and writer/director Jeff Wadlow seems to have looked only to build on what Matthew Vaughn did with the first film, rather than make it his own.  With an army of new superheroes and super villains, the body count reaches near the heights of the last “Rambo” film, each being slain in a hail of gunfire, slashing knives, and numerous other blunt objects.  Save to say, this isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you enjoyed the first film, you may find some fun with a few of the new characters, though you may roll your eyes often at what the Red Mist character has become.

     The story picks up shortly after the events of the first film with Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), the former Red Mist, hell bent on revenge against Kick-Ass / Dave Lizewski  (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) for killing his mobster father. Now having inherited his family’s fortune, he hatches a well funded plan to recruit an army of costumed villains, installing himself as the leader.  Mintz-Plasse hams it up and is by no means an effective villain who should be taken seriously, what with his S & M  gimp inspired get up and the self proclaimed “Mother Fucker” title.  On the other side, Kick-Ass has discovered a new underground group of superheroes called Justice Forever, which is led by a new hero named Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey).  Kick-Ass is forced to join the group when the orphaned Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) leaves her alter ego for good and attempts to fit in as a normal student in high school.

     In a sort of irony, the story calls for Hit Girl / Mindy Macready to experience somewhat of a “Carrie” like plot twist during the majority of the film’s second act.  At the behest of her new guardian and her father’s former partner, Marcus (Morris Chestnut), Mindy gives up the life of fighting crime as Hit Girl and settles into the school’s dance team, using her martial arts prowess.  When a group of stereotypical cardboard cut out in crowd girls play an embarrassing joke on Mindy, you know she’s more than capable of revenge, just like you’ll know the same when Moretz portrays “Carrie” in that film’s remake coming just two months from now.  Interestingly, her revenge comes by way of a tool straight out of or blatantly ripped off from the film “Minority Report”.  I’m not sure if that was done on purpose or if the filmmakers didn’t realize it.

     The biggest issue with “Kick-Ass 2” is it’s lack of a consistent tone.  Watching the film is the equivalent of someone in the most serious manner possible saying something horrible, only to say they were just kidding a minute later.  “Kick-Ass 2” does that for the majority of the film’s running time.  In one moment, we are meant to take what is going on dead serious, only to have the situation turned into a joke later.  When you make a movie like this, you can’t have it both ways.  You can’t have violence presented as realistic and mean spirited in one scene, only to present the same violence as cartoonish and silly the next.  Characters need to be consistent as well.  The same character who in one scene is forcing her buddy to test out a bullet proof vest with live rounds wouldn’t suddenly become a vulnerable teenager that falls for mean spirited pranks at the hands of her high school’s most popular girl.  Personalities can’t change in a span of 2 hours just because it’s convenient for script purposes.

     The third act ventures into your standard “Braveheart” type of scenario where two more than formidable sides face off in a warehouse, say a few nasty things to one another, and then riot.  You get the inevitable one on one battles between heroes and villains, all of which are predictable and surprisingly unimaginative.  Wadlow wants his film and it’s violent nature to be taken the way audiences view Tarantino’s films, but the constant change in the way we are forced to view these characters leaves each of them uneven throughout.  Missing is the “Superbad” inspired banter that made scenes in the first film memorable as the group first pondered the idea of fighting crime as a masked hero.  In the sequel, that innocence is gone, leaving us with scenes whose function is to lead us toward another uninspiring action scene.  GRADE: D