'Kick-Ass 2' too much of a not-that-good thing
“Kick-Ass 2” comes three years after the modest ($48 million) success of “Kick-Ass.” Covering much of the same ground, with a lot of the cute worn off or aged out Moretz) is no longer a pre-teen, Kick-Ass — Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) — strains to look like a high-school senior — the sequel is notable for some amusing bits, a few cool scenes, and its wince-worthy violence and staggering body count.
“This is the real world,” lectures Dave's long-suffering dad (Garrett M. Brown). “It has consequences.”
So, Dave suffers terrible beatings and Hit Girl delivers worse ones, with blood and bullets and worse. And the mobster's son once known as Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) rounds up a posse of evil henchmen, becomes a super-villain and kills or maims scores of cops and civilians.
And there are no consequences.
But here's what works. Dave and Hit Girl talk about teaming up. They go to the same high school, after all.
Hit Girl is hitting puberty and having second thoughts about this night-vigilante thing. She is thrown in with some mean-girl cheerleaders (led by an amusingly nasty Claudia Lee). And they try to teach her the joys of makeup, and making out with boys.
All the high-school stuff plays as wacky with a hint of reality about it.
Dave, meanwhile, finds himself throwing in with others who have taken to wearing costumes and prowling the night streets, looking for injustice. Because they call themselves Justice Forever. Jim Carrey is a bit out there as Col. Stars & Stripes, a born-again mob enforcer, Donald Faison makes a dopey Dr. Gravity and Lindy Booth is the tart who calls herself Night (rhymes with “witch”), who becomes Dave's paramour.
What's missing from this comic-book adaptation is Big Daddy, the father played by Nicolas Cage, who gave the first film that last dollop of heart and lifted director Matthew Vaughn's “Kick-Ass” right to the edge of zany. There's no villain with the presence of the first film's Mark Strong.
And Vaughn himself is also missed. Writer-director Jeff Wadlow's sequel lumbers from cool action sequences and funny segments into dead ends. And the violence is, if anything, more extreme and more real but lacking the “consequences” that were the point of Mark Millar's comic book.
That makes “Kick-Ass 2” more sour than sweet, a movie that jokes about comic book fanboys but stops short of mocking them the way the first film did. Coming at the end of a comic book-saturated summer, it would be too much of a good thing even if it were a good thing.
Roger Moore reviews movies for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.