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With: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chlo‘ Grace Moretz, Jim Carrey, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Lindy Booth, Clark Duke, Morris Chestnut, Donald Faison, John Leguizamo, Robert Emms, Claudia Lee, Augustus Prew, Amy Anzel, Yancy Butler
Written by: Jeff Wadlow, based on a comic book by Mark Millar, John S. Romita Jr.
Directed by: Jeff Wadlow
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, pervasive language, crude and sexual content, and brief nudity
Running Time: 103
Date: 08/16/2013
IMDB

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Being Kicked When Down

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Three years ago, Matthew Vaughn's crazy, wild Kick-Ass was a shocker. But a shock doesn't last long, and no sequel could ever hope to duplicate its impact.

Subsequently, the new Kick-Ass 2 feels arbitrary and unnecessary. It has lost its sense of humor. It doesn't even have a cohesive idea or theme.

As it begins, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is retired, but has grown antsy watching so many new superheroes turn up on the scene, heroes that he -- as Kick-Ass -- has inspired.

So he dons his costume again, hoping to team up with Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz).

Unfortunately, Hit Girl's new guardian (Morris Chestnut) wants her to stay in high school, where she faces an even greater threat than any supervillain: popular girls.

So Kick-Ass instead joins a new supergroup led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), and hooks up with a cute girl superhero called "Night Bitch" (Lindy Booth).

Meanwhile, the former Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) has inherited his family's fortune and takes on a new identity, the supervillain known as "The Motherf*&%$r," whose main goal is revenge.

During this, characters bounce back and forth between concepts of being a hero with a costume, and being a hero without one, without ever deciding on which one is cooler, or nobler.

For a little while, the movie plays around with biting social satire in the high school sequences, but these are quickly wrapped up and dropped in time for the final showdown.

Without humor, shock, or any real reason to exist, all that's left is brutal, gory fighting, which, frankly, isn't anything you haven't seen before.

There's nothing truly at stake in these fights. In the first movie, Kick-Ass was a normal guy. But in the intervening three years, Taylor-Johnson has been working out and currently looks like a ripped, muscular superhero. He leaves little doubt that he can win the big showdown.

Tellingly, a new director, Jeff Wadlow, has taken over for Vaughn. His approach lacks the smarts and style of the previous film and Vaughn's work in general (Layer Cake, Stardust, and X-Men: First Class).

But the ultimate sign of atrophy is that not even the loony Carrey can muster up anything exciting to do here.

Certainly, prior knowledge and good memories of the characters carries a bit of goodwill for a while, but before long, Kick-Ass 2 just throws in the towel.

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