Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Kick-Ass-2-PosterI wasn’t too crazy about the first “Kick Ass.” The attempts to take Mark Millar’s homophobic misogynistic fantasy and tame it for broader audiences failed. And it failed fantastically once it watered down the cynicism and introduced that stupid rocket pack. I never understood the appeal of adapting the comic, either. Since I never really bothered to finish “Kick Ass 2” the mini-series (Millar’s “edginess” gets exhausting after the thirtieth anal sex joke), my frame of reference is nil, so “Kick-Ass 2” is a fairly fresh experience as a sequel to a movie that could have done without one.

The alleged realism that Mark Millar strived for is lost again in a sequel that still can’t decide if this world is striving for a superhero in reality tone, or is just another violent superhero fantasy that doesn’t want to look at all pessimistic. The producers seem to want to latch on to Millar’s source material, but are careful not to grasp on to his misanthropy. “Kick Ass 2” tries to sensationalize dressing up as a superhero and getting nearly killed every day, and does so by watering down the effects of getting beaten up and attacked on street corners. Suddenly Kick Ass is a folk hero everyone greets on the streets, and is jumped in one instance. He’s able to just get back up and brush himself off again, detracting from whatever message the writers are trying to convey to the audience at this point in the movie series.

While I appreciate the writers immensely dialing down Mark Millar’s disturbing fixation on rape, misogyny, homphobia, and anal sex, “Kick Ass 2” loses all of its edge while anxiously trying to convince the audience it’s still a subversive bit of meta-superhero cinema. Further emphasizing the confusion on whether this is a reality based superhero movie or pure cartoon fantasy, there is literally no crises of conscience among Kick Ass and his team of avengers that travel the night, and neither of them are ever stopped by police. To make suspension of disbelief even harder, even the most ruthless criminals in the film lack the foresight to own guns. In one scene, Kick Ass and his group raid a Poker game involving Triads, and beat them all to a pulp. Oddly enough neither of them are packing a machine gun, or even the smallest of hand guns.

The Mother Fucker is really the only person wise enough to garner hand guns of his own, and when he does, he’s simply just shooting down bottles in a grocery store. Mindy helps Dave from being kidnapped by The Mother Fucker’s army by murdering the kidnappers while standing atop their van in high speed traffic, and like a superhuman, crawls along the van dodging bullets and eliminating the thugs. The next minute she’s warning Dave “This isn’t a comic book. Real people are going to die tonight.” It’s an utterly confusing and sloppy shift in tones that make this such a mess. “Kick Ass 2” wants to have it both ways as a broader more fantasy based superhero movie, as well as a dark and violent action film. Neither formula work too well. Truly, Chloe Moretz and the character of Mindy make “Kick Ass 2” worth watching (beyond the thankful lack of Nicolas Cage).

Her attempts to become a high schooler and realizing it’s just as vicious in her school as it is outside, is both entertaining and oddly compelling. Mindy is a fractured girl who is now trying to masquerade as a normal student. Ultimately, she doesn’t seem to realize that most of her training doesn’t account for her lack of instinct and awareness of people around her seeking to do her in, because her empowerment is based on self-confidence and less on materialism. Incidentally, “Kick Ass 2″ is mainly Mindy’s story. I’d love to see Hitgirl” garner her own spin off film, soon. Moretz is deserving of claiming this movie series for herself. As it stands, the “Kick Ass” movies are forgettable and terrible adaptations of a comic book best left as shelf fillers, in the long run.