Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Rating: C+

Dir: Jeff Wadlow
Star: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey

More or less the same kind of thing, albeit with a different director, and it’s hard to tell whether it’s that, or the over-familiarity, that are the problem here. Of course, it’s all relative, but the guilty pleasures of the first, such as hearing Moretz drop the C-bomb with gleeful abandon – seem less enjoyable here. You have a bunch of people playing dress-up, battling what is basically another bunch of people, also playing dress-up. This represents a sharp contrast to the previous film, where it was the clash between comic-book idealism and real-life organized crime that was a much-better propelling force.

The main three young leads return: Dave (Taylor-Johnson) is initially out of the game as Kick-Ass, but comes out of retirement, to join a group led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Carrey). Meanwhile, Chris (Mintz-Plasse), the son of the gangster killed by Kick-Ass, sets out to extract revenge, by assembling a group of super villains. And Mindy (Moretz) is finding out, that fitting in to high-school may be harder than stabbing bad guys in the head. It’s less a sequel than an underwhelming imitation, without any real sense of development for any of the characters: what started as a sly parody of the gap between superheroes and the real world, has largely turned into what it mocked, with little sense of progression, on its way to a climax that falls well short of being climactic.

There are still some amusing moments: Moretz kicks ass, and there’s a wonderfully hyper-violent sequence where a Russian giantess destroys about a dozen cop-cars. Otherwise, Wadlow doesn’t seem to bring the same level of transgressive energy, unless you consider teenage girls simultaneously puking and shitting themselves (through ropey CGI) to be subversive. This has a much better handle on simple vulgarity, and while it skates by, largely on Moretz’s charm, it’s still a disappointing follow-up, that feels like a cash-in, rather than anything with thought or intelligence behind it.