“Kick-Ass 2” retains a nearly identical tone to its predecessor – an accomplishment few sequels can boast. Jeff Wadlow’s follow-up to Matthew Vaughn’s 2010 film capably blends colorful comic book characters with pitch black comedy and severe bloodshed. While the novelty of creations such as Hit Girl has abated, several new masked crime fighters rise to the challenge of maintaining the quirky atmosphere. A gang of sinisterly costumed super villains even makes an entry to complement the medley of heroes. While much of the spirit of “Kick-Ass” is replicated, rarely is it trumped, offering entertainment but little expansion on the ideas already presented by the original. “More of the same” isn’t always a slight, and here the irreverence of little girls dishing out mayhem and crass one-liners hasn’t dulled, even if opportunities for added thrills with imaginative casting choices and explosive confrontations are underutilized.
After taking down crime kingpin Frank D’Amico with his superhero alter ego “Kick-Ass,” Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) shelves his costume and returns to normal high school life. But it isn’t long before he yearns for the excitement and fulfillment of combating injustice and seeks out Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz), the spunky-but-lethal Hit-Girl, a partner in anti-crime to satisfy the craving. Together the two train tirelessly to ready themselves for their reemergence into the world of masked vigilantes. But when Mindy’s caretaker Marcus (Morris Chestnut) catches her playing superhero and demands she give up the dangerous profession, she promises to live the life of an ordinary teenage girl. With his partner out of commission, Dave joins forces with a ragtag group of masked warriors inspired by his very own exploits as Kick-Ass. Led by ex-mafia enforcer Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), the “Justice Forever” league, comprised of Doctor Gravity (Donald Faison), Insect Man (Robert Emms), Night Bitch (Lindy Booth), Battle Guy (Clark Duke), and more, begins thwarting evil and bringing wrongdoers to justice. Meanwhile, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), embittered by his father’s death at the hands of Kick-Ass, reinvents himself as a super villain and commences building a legion of killers to exact his revenge.
To its credit, “Kick-Ass 2” is able to duplicate the general mood of outrageous comedy and savage violence that worked so well for its predecessor. With most of the cast returning, it shouldn’t be a difficult task, but the majority of follow-ups tend to lose all connection with their roots when the crew behind the scenes are replaced. Fortunately, although director Wadlow, with a scattered filmography, steps in, Vaughn stayed aboard as a producer. And yet though it retains the biting sarcasm, the spoofing of comic books, the bad Halloween costumes, and ridiculous names (the primary villain’s moniker can’t even be printed here), it lacks the focus that would deem a sequel indispensable. It’s a continuation, but almost nothing new is brought to the picture – it’s as if a checklist was conceived and every element from “Kick-Ass” that struck a chord with audiences was duplicated.
The repetition of insisting that becoming self-proclaimed superheroes is realism is a touch overbearing. It’s the primary suggestion behind average people donning colorful accouterments and getting attacked and battered – either by equally average thugs or by deranged outcasts thirsting for an outlet for disorderly compulsion. Here, the brutality is coated with an unnecessary cruelty that, while largely exaggerated, requires greater comedic interludes to dilute. The moments of grisliness induced by revenge provide superior entertainment – when dispensed by the protagonists.
But certain villainous characters provide no comic relief, which is troublesome in a setting that can easily withstand even sincere turpitude imbued with humor. Colonel Stars and Stripes is just such a role, disguising Jim Carrey’s voice and face to the point that casting such a recognizable actor is somewhat of a mystery. Still dabbling in uncomfortable, offensive, or disgusting fundamentals of puberty and adolescence, lampooning popular comic book groups like the Avengers or the Justice League, and doling out amusingly racist stereotypes, “Kick-Ass 2” has enough amusing sequences to trump the question of its mediocre plot. Unfortunately, the conclusion is also much less climactic than it could have been (and stay past the end credits for an extra scene).
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)