From the moment Kick-Ass 2 star Jim Carrey came out and decided to no longer support his recent film “in good conscience,” due to its high levels of violence, the superhero-led comedy was predetermined a curiosity-inspiring must-see. Based on the comic book series of the same name, the Kick-Ass sequel follows Dave Lizewski (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who retires from the superhero game as Kick-Ass to return to his boring teenage life. But when he meets Mindy Macready—aka Hit-Girl—he asks her to help train him in becoming a proper hero, one who doesn’t just wear tight spandex, but also kicks major ass.
The opening scene sets the film’s violent tone, with Mindy testing out Dave’s bulletproof vest by shooting him twice—once in the chest and once from behind. Considering the fact that Mindy is a freshman in high school, the image of a 15-year-old sporting a gun may feel a bit too close to home for some. With the recent series of brutal massacres in the U.S., Carrey and other gun violence prevention advocates’ protest of the film is no surprise. But while the film may be overly gruesome in scenes like this one, for the purpose of entertainment, Kick-Ass 2’s extreme violence isn’t such a bad thing. Still, for every ultra-violent scene, there’s twice the dosage of hilarity, like when the petite Mindy (played by Chloe Moretz) slaps Dave during training and says, “Act like a bitch, get slapped like a bitch.”
There’s a slight kink in the duo’s training, though, when Marcus—a New York City police officer played by Morris Chestnut—forbids Mindy from further engaging in her superhero ways, forcing her to give it all up and just be a normal teen, leaving Dave to play hero on his own. As Kick-Ass, Dave then joins a super crew called Justice Forever, which includes Colonel Stars And Stripes (Jim Carrey) and other social rejects who have nothing better to do than play dress-up. And in true good guy fashion, Kick-Ass quickly acquires an arch nemesis, a wealthy punk named Chris D’Amico, who seeks to avenge the death of his father. Using his mom’s leather dominatrix cat suit as his costume, Chris creates a superhero of his own called The Motherfucker. The Staten Island teen then goes on a rampage in an effort to find and kill Kick-Ass, and even decides to hire a bunch of misfits to join his own legion of villains.
Throughout the ensuing battle scenes, it becomes clear that Kick-Ass 2’s most dominant theme is violence, though it doesn’t ever feel overdone or misplaced. Instead, the film’s creators seem to be critiquing American youth culture’s obsession with violence in modern society, and in many ways the film does so quite satirically. “I gotta tweet about this,” The Motherfucker says after shooting up a bodega, in hopes of making headlines as the city’s breakout badass.
Hysterically gory scenes aside, the film also explores themes like what it would be like if a society of people stopped living in their comic books and decided to, despite the violent consequences, feed into their desires of becoming real-life superheroes. Director Jeff Wadlow even touches on the issue of school bullying when Mindy is publicly embarrassed by a group of mean girls. Mindy, an awkward tomboy who doesn’t quite fit in with the high school’s popular crowd, ends up confiding in Dave, who encourages her to embrace the superhero within. “You’re Hit-Girl… doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a mask or makeup, it’s who you are… be yourself,” he reminds her. But the sappiness doesn’t go too far, before Wadlow returns to giving viewers what they came to see: explosions, ass kickings and plenty of sick humor.
While there aren’t glaring differences between Kick-Ass’ sequel and the original, both are equally thrilling and are sprinkled with the right elements for an enjoyable action comedy. Plus, the final scene is epic beyond measure. For what it’s worth, Kick-Ass doesn’t mislead, but it also doesn’t do anything too innovative either. With it, you get everything you’d expect from a movie that attracts comic book aficionados, and for that demo, you couldn’t ask for much more.—Gerren Keith Gaynor (@MRGERRENALIST)
XXL Rating: M