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2010’s sleeper hit “Kick-Ass” was a pleasant surprise that managed to stick out from the crowd, in spite of the massive amount of comic book adaptations flooding the screen in recent years, by simple virtue of its original premise: what if ordinary average people, sans superpowers of any kind, went out and donned costumes and fought crime for real?
Yes, I’m aware that “Watchmen” dealt with a similar storyline, and, naturally, Batman is just a rich guy in a suit, but still, “Kick-Ass” brought something new to the table in that the main protagonists were mostly teens, with another, the unforgettable “Hit Girl,” clocking in at a mere eleven. Also unique was the undeniably warped sense of humor and penchant for the old ultra-violence.
A bit on the controversial side, thanks to Hit Girl’s filthy vocabulary- though, oddly enough, few complained about all the people she spectacularly laid waste to during the course of the film!- the film nonetheless did decent business, in particular blossoming as a cult hit on DVD/Blu-Ray. What’s more, it unwittingly spawned a host of like-minded superhero satires of a similar bent, with films such as “Super,” “Defendor” and “Griff the Invisible.”
With all those films in the wake of the original, one had to wonder if the somewhat belated sequel, “Kick-Ass 2” would seem like a case of too little too late, but then again, you never know. After all, one of the cardinal rules of a sequel is, as Randy memorably said in “Scream 2”: “Carnage Candy!” In other words, a good sequel isn’t just more of the same, it’s way more of the same, and everything is bigger, badder and- one can only hope- better.
Of course, that isn’t always the case. Hell, in the movie itself, main protagonist Dave (aka “Kick-Ass,” played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson), wears a shirt that proudly proclaims: “Reboots suck!” Amen, brother. (Okay, granted, “The Dark Knight” trilogy was awesome, and I liked “X-Men: First Class” just fine, but I feel the sentiment, nonetheless.) Well, I’m happy to say they don’t screw it up, for the most part.
Basically, this time out you’ve got more of everything. More superheroes- a whole team of them, in fact- more villains, who also get a team; and, of course, more action, with much more elaborate set-pieces, including a memorable superhero vs. supervillain ultimate showdown at the end. I also enjoyed the great scene where Hit Girl comes to Kick-Ass’ rescue and a face-off ensues on the highway in and on a speeding truck. So, action-wise, “Kick-Ass 2” is getting it done and then some.
Also fun is Hit Girl’s counterpart, Mindy, facing off with some real-life super-villains: high school mean girls. Faced with not being able to go all Hit Girl on their asses, she instead opts for some amusing alternatives, including a unique, martial arts-inspired approach to a dance audition and a scene you won’t soon forget that I won’t spoil here involving something called the “Sick Stick.” I’d say “Carrie” ain’t got nothing on Hit Girl, but then, star Chloë Grace Moretz is playing “Carrie” later this year, so…nice warm-up, I guess?
There’s also some decent character acting work from the likes of Jim Carrey (who sadly distanced himself for the film, deeming it “too violent”- did he even see the first one?), Donald Faison (“Scrubs”), John “Don’t call me Alfred” Leguizamo, Morris Chestnut, and, in the “so that’s what happened to her!” slot, Lindy Booth (the “Dawn of the Dead” remake), as Kick-Ass’ new love interest.
Returning from the first installment are wise-cracking Clark Duke as Kick-Ass’ best bud; Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the head villain in charge, the- ahem- “Motherf***er”; and Lyndsy Fonseca, who drops by long enough to dump Dave at the beginning of the movie and then promptly drops out of the film for the most part, presumably having had to get back to the set of “Nikita,” where she’s put to much better use- or maybe she’s seeking revenge for whoever misspelled her name so hardcore. The sexy, twerk-a-licious Claudia Lee is also worth a mention as Brooke, the head beeyatch in charge at Dave and Mindy’s school.
All in all, I liked “Kick-Ass 2” a lot. It wasn’t anything earth-shattering, but it was a fun sequel that delivered the goods, and brought the events of the first one to a logical conclusion that nonetheless leaves the door open for a third installment. (Be sure and stay for a key post-credits sequence to that end.)
I can’t say I’d have a problem with a third one, although they’d be hard-pressed to beat the slam-bang ending here. Besides, who wouldn’t want to see Hit Girl continue to whip up guys and girls alike twice her size, including a hulking 7-foot tall Russian Brigitte Nielsen look-a-like? Now that’s entertainment.
As it stands, I give “Kick-Ass 2” a solid B+. It may not be as original as the first one, but considering how many also-rans have come out in that film’s wake, the fact it doesn’t come off as a warmed-over, pale imitation of its predecessor is a win unto itself. And that, my friends, is pretty kick-ass, if I do say so myself.