Monday, August 19, 2013

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

**This review contains spoilers**

After inspiring others to fight crime and clean up the streets, Dave Lizewski (Aaron-Taylor Johnson) decides to retire his Kick-Ass persona. Still inspired by her father’s mission and dedicated to keeping her promise to Big Daddy, Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz ) refuses to give up her life as Hit-Girl, until she receives pressure from Sergeant Marcus Williams (Morris Chestnut),  Mindy’s guardian and the man, who swore to protect her from any danger. Mindy tries to train Dave, so he can be a real hero without having to put on the costume, but Marcus steps in, and forces Mindy to retire the Hit-Girl persona and her life of crime fighting for good. Furious about the perceived awkward relationship with Mindy at school and a neglectful attitude, Dave’s girlfriend, Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca) dumps him in the hallways by slapping him in the face one day.

Meanwhile, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is still looking for revenge after Kick-Ass used a rocket launcher to murder his father. After an argument with his mother, Chris accidentally kills Ms. D’Amico by kicking her tanning bed, causing it to malfunction. Determined to get his hands on Kick-Ass, Chris assumes the identity of The Mother Fucker with the hopes of becoming the world’s first supervillian. With his inheritance and some help from his personal assistant Javier (John Leguizamo), The Mother Fucker assembles his own team of villains including Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina), Black Death (Daniel Kaluuya), Genghis Carnage (Tom Wu), and The Tumor (Andy Nyman). Forming a stable of villains known as The Toxic Mega-Cunts, The Mother Fucker vows to destroy the city with crime, and kill Kick-Ass.

Unable to convince Mindy to become Hit Girl again and not wanting to fight alone, Dave becomes Kick-Ass again and joins a group of heroes called Justice Forever. Led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), Kick-Ass joins the team of Night Bitch (Lindy Booth), Doctor Gravity (Donald Faison), Team Remembering Tommy (two parents, who became crime fighters after their son was abducted), as a team made up of Tommy’s mother (Monica Dolan) and Tommy’s father (Steven Mackintosh), and Battle Guy, who eventually reveals himself as Marty (Clark Duke), one of Dave’s best friends.

The Toxic Mega-Cunts and Justice Forever are headed for an inevitable clash, as the police crack down on anyone wearing a mask. And things take a devastating turn for the worst, when Marty and Dave’s friend, Todd (Augustus Prew) gives away Kick-Ass’s real identity, putting Dave’s father, Mr. Lizewski (Garrett M. Brown) in harm’s way. And Mindy has a change of heart, after the most popular girl in high school and her clique pull a mean prank, forcing Mindy to think twice about being “normal.” Will Mindy become Hit Girl one last time, so she can join Justice Forever in the war against The Toxic-Mega Cunts?

Well, I’ll just get this out of the way now. Whether or not you agree with his decision to not promote Kick-Ass 2, because of the violence in this film, don’t get your hopes up for anything special from Jim Carrey. Colonel Stars and Stripes’ screen time is VERY limited, and you won’t see too much of him. Plus, Carrey’s character takes a backseat to the other sub-plots in Kick-Ass, so in the grand scheme of things, Colonel Stars and Stripes doesn’t have a significant impact on the story. Carrey is funny during his short time on screen, and you can tell he’s genuinely having fun with the character, but again, don’t go into this film expecting great things from Carrey, because you’ll be disappointed.

Moretz is still entertaining as the foul-mouthed and fearless bad ass, but as Mindy, we get to see a more vulnerable side of the character here. We saw glimpses of Mindy’s softer side with her father Big Daddy in the original, especially during his death, and the scenes where they both shared hot chocolate and marshmallows. But in the sequel, we get to see Mindy try and adjust to life in high school, as she tries to fit in. Moretz did a fantastic job of showing some emotion (most notably the scene, where she goes to Dave’s house for comfort after the prank), and showing the confliction of being torn between Hit-Girl and Mindy.

Anyway, Mintz-Plasse is appropriately annoying and loathsome as The Mother Fucker. The Mother Fucker is a spoiled brat, who uses his money to get what he wants, and Plasse is a suitable replacement for Mark Strong as the primary antagonist. The supporting cast isn’t bad. Clark Duke is able to provide a few laughs as the unapologetic comedian of the group. Lindy Booth is just eye candy for the most part, but she deserves some credit for her acting chops during scenes at the hospital with Dave, and The Toxic-Mega Cunts invasion at her home. But Mother Russia is the stand out star from the supporting cast. Having the physical presence of a scary and evil She Hulk helps, and trust me, when it comes to the scene, where she attacks the cops by herself, the trailers just show the tip of the iceberg. It’s way more outrageous and shocking, when you see the whole thing in its entirety. And don’t expect anything from Lyndsy Fonseca. Her appearances are limited to cameo status here.

So Kick-Ass keeps the vulgarity, the blood and violence, and for the most part, they maintained the raunchy edge that made the first film popular. Plus, they add in a “Mean Girls” sub-plot for Mindy’s character, and it’s not a bad idea, because it helped the audience connect to and understand Mindy’s vulnerable side. BUT Kick-Ass 2 isn’t something to brag about. You can say being something different and fresh helped the first film’s success, but Kick-Ass 2 didn’t have that luxury. The blood and the vulgar dialogue should please fans of the first film, but it felt like Kick-Ass 2 was playing it way too safe most of the time. I don’t mean safe as in watered down or restricted. I mean safe as in “let’s try our best to copy the blueprint of the first film without making any major changes” safe.

Remember how Bruce Wayne wanted to retire from being Batman in The Dark Knight Rises? But a good old fashioned beating from Bane and the bomb in Gotham changed his mind? Or more recently how Tony Stark wanted to be done with Iron Man after the trauma following the events of The Avengers? Well Kick-Ass 2 follows in the footsteps of the superhero wanting to retire for good, and leave a life of crime fighting behind them after a traumatic experience blueprint. Dave wants to be done with Kick-Ass after he promised his father he would never wear the costume again. And Mindy is reminded of who her real father was by Marcus, and the need for her to have a real childhood, so Mindy swears to never be Hit-Girl again. Problem with this formula is, we all know how it’s going to end. Somehow, someway, Dave and Mindy were going to become Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl again. And guess what? They did. They broke their promises, so they can help stop the growing threat of The Toxic Mega-Cunts. That’s the problem with this formula. It’s NEVER convincing enough to the point, where you’ll seriously believe said hero will hang it up for good, so when they actually make a comeback, it’s not genuinely surprising or shocking in the slightest.

But Kick-Ass 2 isn’t 100% through the motions and predictable all the time. The death of Chris’s mother and Dave’s father completely caught me off guard, and Hit-Girl using the shot of adrenaline to take out Mother Russia was a nice shock, because throughout the movie, you were lead to believe the stuff inside the syringe was a lethal injection, used to put someone out of their misery before an agonizing death.

And in an unrelated plot twists complaint, did anyone else notice Todd’s betrayal at the end? Todd was upset because Dave and Marty constantly ignored his efforts to become a superhero, so he tried to join The Toxic-Mega Cunts as Ass-Kicker. And guess what, Todd is the one, who revealed Kick-Ass’s identity as Dave to The Mother Fucker. After acquiring this info, The Mother Fucker sends out two of his goons to beat Dave’s father to death. After the big brawl between The Toxic-Mega Cunts and Justice Forever, Todd celebrates with Kick-Ass and the heroes? Eh, Todd is solely responsible for the death of Dave’s father, and they never mention that? On  top of that, he celebrates with the good guys like NOTHING happened, and he doesn’t have to suffer any consequences, when it’s all said and done? I’m sorry, but that’s a HUGE gap in logic that’s hard to ignore.

Still, Kick-Ass isn’t without some highlights. The final brawl was so much fun to watch, with the one on one duel between Mother Russia and Hit-Girl stealing the show. It’s a match up that had to happen, because Hit-Girl and Mother Russia are the top two bad asses and toughest characters in this film, so logic suggests both characters having to square off against each other in a “must-see“ fight to the death. And I can’t forget about Mindy’s rescue of Dave, as she’s fighting the bad guys in the speeding van on the highway. Amazing action sequence. Also, the tie-in of social media really enhanced the realism part of this film. During the beginning, a thug tries to use his cell phone to a record a fight with Kick-Ass, so he can reach “a million” hits on YouTube. And The Mother Fucker uses Twitter to brag about his feats of crime. 

I laughed a lot throughout this movie, but Kick-Ass 2 is a weird one for me. I enjoyed the film, but nothing here left me with a urge to see a part three after I walked out of the theater. It’s a satisfying sequel, and fans of the original should enjoy it, but I wasn’t foaming at the mouth for more Kick-Ass, when the credits started rolling.

Rating: 7/10

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