Before I begin, let me apologize for the frequent use of “ass” in this review. Though, I have a feeling that if that word offends you, then you most likely aren’t reading a review to see how the movie is.
The first Kick-Ass movie was released in 2010 and gained a cult following through its risky approach to rated R violence and language in a comic book movie. The movie came out of nowhere and I became an instant fan. It even made my top ten list for 2010. On first viewing, the movie relied on shock value and purposely tried to make you laugh out of shock. On repeat viewings, I found that the movie had a surprising amount of heart.
Based on the first movie’s cult status, yet lack of widespread love, I was surprised that it got a sequel. Though, I have been curious to know what happens to Mindy Macready/Hit Girl since she’s given up her hero status.
The story picks up approximately 3 years after Kick-Ass and Hit Girl take a break from playing heroes. Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is a senior in high school and Mindy (Chloe Grace Moretz) is 15, yet she refuses to settle in with the typical high school crowd. Instead of attending class, she continues to train to be a vigilante crime fighter. In time, she trains the out-of-his-element Dave to get back in the game. Meanwhile, Chris/Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) has sworn revenge on Kick-Ass for blowing up his crime boss father with a bazooka at the end of the first movie. He changes his name to something I won’t repeat here and starts recruiting lackies for an all-out war to cause pain to Kick-Ass and his new costume-wearing, crime-fighting buddies.
Side note: What is up with everyone in this movie having 3 names? I’m surprised that Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jennifer Love Hewitt didn’t show up.
The heroes in this movie have to make a choice whether the fun/responsibility of wearing masks and fighting crooks is worth the consequences it takes on their families. At one point, Hit Girl promises her adoptive father that she’ll give up the life. She tries to fit in with the popular girls at school for a large part of the movie. Normally, this plot line would seem like a throwaway John Hughes meets Stan Lee story. However, Mindy quickly adapts to the social class of high school, and even when things go awry for her, she still manages to keep the upper hand. It’s telling that she would rather roam the mean streets of New York than the judgmental hallways of high school.
Let’s be honest, the main reason that the first movie worked so well is the reliance on the Hit Girl character. This movie switches up the pace in the best possible way. Granted, she still steals the movie, but it’s as her Mindy alter ego, rather than the crass dynamo Hit Girl.
Much like Nicholas Cage blew away expectations in the first movie, so too does Jim Carrey in the sequel. Even without his mask, he is unrecognizable. I enjoyed watching him in a performance in a role he’s now conveniently embarrassed by. It’s strangely his best role in years, which isn’t tough based on his recent track record. Yet, for the first time in years he is actually trying to be someone other than himself.
I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but this movie continues to push boundaries. I didn’t find it half as offensive as the first movie, but the violence is brutal. The shock value of seeing an 11 year old girl swear is gone in Kick-Ass 2. I am completely fine with that, as that shock only lasted one viewing anyways. This movie, at times, feels very heavy. The villains, this time around, are relentless and do not hold back.
I’m surprised to say that, story-wise, this is a better movie than the first. We are thankfully past the origins of each character and are now seeing the consequences of their actions. Second comic book movies are generally better IMHO.
This is a tough movie to recommend due to its gratuitous violence and language. If you found the first movie to be a fun ride, then you should absolutely see Kick-Ass 2. If you avoided the first movie (and this review) based on the content, then it’s best to steer clear of this movie.