1 and 1/2 out of 4 stars
Written as both a parody of and homage to superheroes, Mark Millar’s comic book series “Kick-Ass” was adapted into a 2010 movie and — according to those in the know — was faithful to the source material. In it a high school kid adopts the title moniker, dons an ugly green spandex suit and with two sticks attempts, vigilante style, to fight crime in New York City. He eventually crosses paths with the like-minded but more serious and better-equipped Big Daddy and his daughter Hit-Girl. Although it divided the critics, it was a surprise blockbuster hit which, of course, meant there had to be a sequel.
Not picking up not where the first left off as much as starting over, “K-A2” is what you might expect from the late summer sequel of an only marginally entertaining original installment. Steeped in violent carnage, graphic gore, blush-inducing profanity, misogyny, racism and just plain insipid and unfunny dialogue, “K-A2” is the kind of movie the first one lampooned. There are only two demographics that will find it appealing: 18- to 25-year-old fanboys and older men whose tastes tend to be more “exotic” and whose wardrobes probably include a raincoat or two.
Inspired by what transpired in the first movie, a reformed mobster calling himself Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey) assembles a rag-tag team of patently lame wanna-be crime-fighter types to copycat Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson). Desperately looking for a sidekick, Kick-Ass joins them only after being repeatedly rebuffed by Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) who has chosen to retire. After the successful raid of an Asian-run house of prostitution, the Colonel’s group catches the attention of Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who desperately wants to avenge his father’s death at the hands of Kick-Ass.
D’Amico — who went under the name Red Mist in the first — decides an image and name change is in order. After the death of his mother (that he caused), D’Amico fashions a suit made from Mom’s S&M gear and christens himself with a name that can’t be printed here but can be shortened to “M.F.” Ahem.
Wantonly raiding his dead parents’ fortune, M.F. quickly hires a group of henchmen that would make the politically-correct police proud. The core group includes a black, an Asian, a Latino and the Eastern European amazon Mother Russia (played by 6’ 2” professional Russian bodybuilder Olga Kurkulina). Imagine Sly Stallone’s ex-wife Brigitte Nielsen after too many testosterone injections, a radiation-based accident and getting hit in the face repeatedly with a cinder block and you’ll have an idea of what Mother Russia looks like.
In the wake of an event that forces Kick-Ass into hiatus, Hit-Girl determines it’s time to get back into the game. This comes after she half-heartedly tried to be a normal teenager by joining a clique and trying out for the cheerleading squad. Having nothing at all to do with crime-fighting or superheroes, this tiny chunk of the movie is the arguable highlight of the film with Moretz channeling Lindsay Lohan’s character from “Mean Girls” and ultimately getting the last laugh over her plastic taunters.
It doesn’t take long for Kick-Ass to reconsider retirement and for the first time he and Hit-Girl are on the same page. Along with the literally hundreds of faux crime-fighters and an equal number of low-rent thugs, the pair engage in an all-out rumble reminiscent of an early scene from “Gangs of New York.”
Even more so than the first, “K-A2” isn’t flavored by the milder, PG-13 grade violence found in other action comedies or the average “Iron Man,” “Spider-man,” “Batman” or “Superman” productions, but instead stuff even guys such as Martin Scorsese would find repellent and excessive. Most horror flicks aren’t this gruesome. It is the textbook example of “gratuitous” and serves no purpose other than to increase the rubberneck factor.
Equally if not more disquieting is the foul language that wouldn’t be so bad if it were being spoken by adult male criminals but here it’s coming (mostly) from the mouth of a 15-year-old girl (Moretz). And these aren’t just your basic four-letter words; they include highly offensive female body part euphemisms and vivid descriptions of sexual acts generally reserved for adult-only stand-up routines or porn flicks.
Taking no chances or leaving little doubt, the last scene indicates that a third installment is on the near horizon but it is suggested that it won’t include Hit-Girl, which is good. Moretz is one of, if not the most talented female teen actors we have and deserves to move on. She is way above this kind of sub-pedestrian slop. (Universal)