The hero known as Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has hung up his tights, but his exploits have inspired a burgeoning community of similarly costumed vigilantes. When a new threat that’s really just an old threat in a new costume rears its head, he’s called out of his teenage retirement by his friend and crime-fighting ally Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz). Joining up with the “superhero” group Justice Forever, Kick-Ass faces his biggest challenge yet: justifying a sequel.
The pros of Kick-Ass 2 are overwhelmingly outnumbered by the cons, so let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first. Grace Moretz is amazing, even in her pointless high school subplot. She easily commands the screen every time she’s on it, and Hit Girl deserves her own movie. Taylor-Johnson also has an amazing body and thighs so glorious that it makes it easy to overlook the fact that he’s completely phoning in his performance.
The film in general, however, is a sad and disappointing mess. Writer/director Jeff Ladlow is primarily to blame with his anonymous direction, incompetently-edited fight scenes, and a clunky, witless script full of awful “who you really are” pablum. The film also proudly boasts a disturbing lack of morality, reveling in every -ism you could possibly think of. Gay jokes fly left and right, every woman is either a victim or a bitch (or both at once), and the antagonist team of super-thugs are all composed of racist stereotypes. And all of that’s toned down from the loathsome stuff that happens in the Mark Millar comics it’s based on.
Kick-Ass 2 has none of the original’s spark or sly humor, and it’s become the empty, reptile-brain spectacle that the original’s detractors accused it of being. It’s the rare sequel that makes its predecessor look bad by association. Now THAT’S true villainy.
3 out of 10 / D