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This is a film that I wanted to like. I enjoyed the first film. I got really pumped when they released that awesome picture of Jim Carrey in full uniform as Colonel Stars and Stripes. I patiently but eagerly waited for its release. In fact, I was enjoying it at first. I wasn’t loving it, and it was kind of slow, but it was good enough. That is until Kick-Ass 2 started to take itself too seriously and everything began to unravel.
Kick-Ass 2 kicks off shortly after the events of the first film. Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is in his last year of high school and has decided that he no longer wants to live an ordinary life. Yet, he realizes his limitations and knows that he has a long way to go before his alterego Kick Ass can be a real superhero. He enlists Mindy (Chloe Grace Moretz) , aka Hit Girl, as his crime fighting partner. At first the two are having a great time training. The movie in fact works best when the two are paired together. But soon they’re split up into separate storylines. Mindy now lives with Detective Marcus Williams, and old friend of her recently deceased father. His efforts at giving her a normal adolescence have been mostly shrugged off by Mindy. But after getting caught red-handed in her Hit Girl outfit, Marcus makes her promise to stop her vigilante activities. Mindy goes to school for the first time, and Dave joins a team of superheroes. Meanwhile Chris D’Amico, formerly known as Red Mist, accidentally kills his mother and as the new heir to his father’s estate begins concentrating his efforts and money into creating a league of super villains intent on avenging his father’s death.
Like a lot of superhero movies, they depend heavily on their villain. Sadly for Kick-Ass 2, the Motherf***er is a pathetic bad guy. He’s weak and immature and never truly passes as a legitimate threat to our good guys. It doesn’t help at all that Christopher Mintz-Plasse lacks the gravitas and acting chops to fill out the roll. There is a point in the movie that is supposed to mark his transition into a truly evil person with no limits. Instead, it is an odd scene with dialogue that Mintz-Plasse is hardly able to deliver. The rest of the cast is more than capable of filling their roles, but again they are usually hampered by their storylines.
Jim Carrey is a delight as Colonel Stars and Stripes. His makeup and costuming in combination with his acting make him barely recognizable. He plays his part with the right amounts of seriousness and silliness. That makes it all the more disappointing when his character makes an early exit. Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit Girl is equally superb in her role. She really sells her line and is easily the best thing about this film along with Jim Carrey. It’s a real shame that she was saddled with an absolutely horrible storyline that is equivalent to Mean Girls except without any of the self-awareness, heart, and humour that made that film so successful.
And this just skims my list of grievances I have with this film. Nothing looks right in it at all. The shots feels cramped. The editing is awkward. The green screen work on this movie is entirely subpar. The comic book captions that are a clear reference to the film’s comic book origins looked like nothing more than an afterthought. I’m not sure what happened in between the first and second film but I cannot comprehend how (new to the gig) director Jeff Wadlow created such a visually incomprehensible film. It just looked bad.
The most disheartening aspect of this film though are all the underlying discourses taking place. The racism is all deemed permissible as “ironic” because of a character who says “Hey you can’t say that! That’s racist!” John Leguizamo delivered these lines with so little conviction as to make it clear that even he didn’t buy it. Then the level of violence in this film reaches a point that is just plain gruesome in how much the film delights in it. Maybe the film could get the audience to take part in its enjoyment, but all of it is portrayed in such a way to make that impossible. It’s not even shot well. It’s not fun- and in a superhero movie where the action should be kinetic and exciting, it’s stagnant.
Some of what passes for jokes in this movie are just disgusting attempts at gags by people who clearly do not understand how to do justice to low-brow and gross-out humour. This is a movie in which a rape victim says “No, it’s my fault” in reference to her assault. At that point I stopped trying to give this film the benefit of the doubt. The film’s creators and some of the audience will surely never realize all the implications of the racism, sexism, and violence that this film shamelessly and unwittingly promotes. I could forgive Kick-Ass 2 for its other shortcomings, but as it is I refuse to take part in it any more than I already have.