Film review: Kick-Ass 2 bundles graphic violence and sentimentality

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Writer, director, and Charlottesville native Jeff Wadlow (right) brings back the gratuitous violence in the superhero spoof Kick-Ass 2. Writer, director, and Charlottesville native Jeff Wadlow (right) brings back the gratuitous violence in the superhero spoof Kick-Ass 2.

When we last left Mindy/Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Dave/Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), one was fatherless and the other had blown up Chris/Red Mist’s father with a bazooka. It was some truly primal shit, made all the more bizarre by the fact that Hit Girl’s dad, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage), was not revealed to be a crazy insane person as he was in the comics.

Normally, the ins and outs of what makes it on screen from the source material—in this case, the revelation that Big Daddy is a psycho—don’t matter much. But admittedly, it’s nice to hear Dave say out loud to Mindy early in Kick-Ass 2, “You know your father was insane, right?”

Right. And that insanity is one of the major conundrums at the center of Kick-Ass 2. Whereas Kick-Ass seemed to revel in turning the entire idea of comic superheroes on its head, Kick-Ass 2 wants to give its audience all the shocking, brutal violence of the first, along with a side order of sentimentality large enough to qualify as a main course.

It doesn’t help that the some of the violence in Kick-Ass 2 is so distasteful. I like a good shotgun to the face as much as the next guy, but ruthlessly killing 10 New York City police officers for laughs seems at best odd and at worst cruel.

That’s supposed to be part of Kick-Ass 2’s charm, of course. Writer and director Jeff Wadlow seems to enjoy the audience squirminess potential of cheering on a 15-year-old girl stabbing a bodybuilding Russian cannibal to death. But really, is that something we should cheer on?

If only Wadlow knew, but he seems torn between making the audience laugh and shiver at the outrageous deaths and revving the audience up with sentiment. When Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) accidentally kills his mother, it’s supposed to be hilarious. When one of the superheroes ends up with a dead parent, it’s supposed to be a call to action. The message is muddled, and not because it wants to be.

Plot-wise, Kick-Ass 2 presents us with a pretty standard revenge scenario. Chris, after his mother’s death and a giant inheritance, adopts a new persona as “The Motherfucker” to kill Kick-Ass, whom, you should recall, was on the winning end of the bazooka in Kick-Ass.

It all starts as a lot of fun for Mindy and Dave as they work out and try to perfect their crime fighting personae, but eventually Mindy gets in trouble at school and with her guardian Marcus (Morris Chestnut) and gives up her vigilante nights. It’s only after her classmates embarrass her and much pleading from Dave that she dons her purple spandex.

And that’s pretty much it. What follows is a veritable assload of spurting blood via knife, dog-bite, firearm, lawn mower and 15-passenger van. There haven’t been this many big-name actors killed in one film since Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables. It’s almost good that the special effects are kind of corny; otherwise, it might be unwatchable. Jim Carrey, Donald Faison, and John Leguizamo are fun in small parts.

 

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