Thursday February 13, 2014
Movie Review: Kick-Ass 2 (2013)
Here we go again.
I wasn’t a fan of the first “Kick-Ass,” which began as an ironic look at superheroes but quickly became, with the introduction of Big Daddy and Hit Girl (Nic Cage and Chloë Grace Moretz), another wish-fulfillment fantasy about superheroes—just with more kill shots and swear words.
“Kick-Ass 2” still pretends to be living in a world without superpowered beings but that doesn’t mean its characters can’t do superpowered things. Big Daddy’s gone, without even a picture to remember him by (Cage, one assumes, would get paid for that), but Hit Girl can still take out 20 people by herself. “Robin wishes he were me,” she says.
More, in the wake of Kick-Ass’s exploits, ordinary citizens have come forward to act as superheroes: Col. Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), Dr. Gravity (Donald Faison), Night Bitch (Lindy Booth). The Colonel is an old mob enforcer who has turned to the light side, and he, too, can take out 10 bad guys simultaneously in the manner of Batman-y, Matrix-y, Hollywood-via-Hong-Kong slow-mo martial arts madness. Hell, even Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) can do this now. He’s not a skinny kid anymore. He’s completely cut. He’s got a ridiculously sculptured body. Apparently all it takes is a good montage sequence. Fucking Rocky.
It’s a few years after the original movie, and Dave has hung up his Kick-Ass tights even as he hungers for more action. Meanwhile, Hit Girl, Mindy Macready, now raised by her father’s friend, Det. Marcus Williams (Morris Chestnut), enters high school: freshman to Dave’s senior.
But they’re on different paths. She makes a promise to Marcus not to be a superhero anymore, which leaves her to walk the more perilous path of schoolgirl popularity contests, while he wants to do nothing but fight crime. He does this by joining a team, Justice Forever, led by Col. Stars and Stripes. Their first big case? Breaking up a sex-slave ring run by Chinese triad members. They do it without breaking much of a sweat. Then they high-five each other and whoop it up. Then Kick Ass and Night Bitch have sex in a toilet stall.
Unbeknownst to all, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), the former Red Mist, whose father, Frank (Mark Strong), a ruthless mob boss, was killed by Kick-Ass at the end of the last movie, is plotting revenge in his whiny, pathetic fashion. First he accidentally kills his mom by kicking her tanning booth. Then he hires MMA guys to train him in the ways of fighting. But he lacks discipline. Since he doesn’t lack for money, he simply hires his team of supervillains, including Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina), a butchier Brigitte Nielsen, who, in one sequence, kills 10 cops, two by two, in a quiet suburban neighborhood. She also kills Col. Stars and Stripes.
Of course the cops react poorly to the death of 10 cops and crack down on all costumed wannabes, villains and heroes. When they show up at Dave’s house, Dave’s father, Mr. Lizewski (Garrett M. Brown), with whom Dave has been fighting, takes the rap, then dies in prison at the hands of Chris D’Amico’s goons, who take a cellphone picture and send it to Dave.
All this time, by the way, we’ve been getting bits of Mindy’s costumeless life. The popular, bitchy girls, led by Brooke (Claudia Lee), befriend her but don’t really. When Mindy wins some cheerleader tryouts, with her martial arts madness routine, even over Brooke’s sexyback number, she has to pay. What happens? A cute boy, whom she asks out, takes her into the woods, where the other girls say mean things and leave. That’s it. But she’s hurt. So she teachers them a lesson. How? By using a sonic device that causes people to vomit and shit at the same time.
The worst of times, the worst of times
Eventually, of course, she’s pulled back in, and there’s a big showdown at the supervillains’ lair. Kick Ass and Hit Girl walk in alone and D’Amico, now The Motherfucker, laughs and says, in essence, the two of you against all of us? At which point doors open and all the rest of the superheroes waltz in and stand and pose. It’s a superhero moment. Awful, unironic version.
I really do hate these movies. It’s partly the crudity, partly the stupidity, but mostly the lie: the lie that we’re too hip to want the wish-fulfillment fantasy. Feeling nothing via irony is, I suppose, just a short step from wishing to feel nothing through invulnerability, but they’re still both childish wishes. It’s the worst of both worlds.
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