An experience akin to being stuck at recess with a bunch of 10-year-old boys who just discovered profanity, Kick-Ass 2 is probably no more juvenile than its 2010 predecessor, a gleefully offensive romp from filmmaker Matthew Vaughn that was stolen outright by Nicolas Cage’s cracked Batman wannabe and his lethal 11-year-old sidekick Hit-Girl (Chlöe Grace Moretz). But where the first film had novelty and energy on its side, this unnecessary rehash from replacement writer-director Jeff Wadlow offers nothing but smug self-satisfaction.
Charisma-free Aaron Taylor-Johnson returns as the title character, a teenage comic book geek who every night dons a green scuba suit and takes to the streets trying to protect and serve. Mostly, he just gets his ass kicked (hence the name). Moretz is back again as Hit-Girl, now a high school freshman trying to adjust to a cafeteria full of Heathers when she’d rather be out decapitating mobsters.
Chistopher Mintz-Plasse, whose mafioso dad was dispatched with a bazooka by Kick-Ass in the first film’s gonzo climax, is now out for revenge. Clad from head to toe in his dead mom’s bondage gear and calling himself the Motherfucker, he announces that he’s the world’s first real-life super-villain, “and my super-power is that I’m richer than shit.” He hires a squad of deadly henchmen dubbed “The Toxic Mega Cunts”—see what I mean about the profanity?—and they go around killing a lot of cops and innocent people in scenes that aren’t nearly as amusing as Wadlow seems to think they are.
Cage is sorely missed here, and Jim Carrey doesn’t muster much amusement as his celebrity stand-in. Barely recognizable beneath a mask and prosthetic schnozz, Carrey’s Colonel Stars and Stripes is a former hitman turned born-again Christian, patrolling bad neighborhoods with a German Shepherd trained to chow down on the genitals of sex offenders.
Cobbled together from two comics by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr., Kick-Ass 2 has tremendous difficulty integrating Hit Girl’s teen angst with the main plotline. Meanwhile, Wadlow is so desperate to offend that the movie wallows in ugly sadism, hitting its nadir with an attempted rape played for laughs that never arrive.
Carrey recently tried to distance himself from this movie, citing a crisis of conscience after Sandy Hook. But the problem with Kick-Ass 2 isn’t that it’s tasteless and immoral. The problem is it just isn’t funny.