It takes quite a bit to offend me. Very rarely do I watch a movie and find myself feeling uncomfortable for all the wrong reasons. I have a line. It might be waaaay down there, but it’s there and can be crossed. Jeff Wadlow’s Kick-Ass 2, a sequel to a film that I found genuinely fun, entertaining, and most importantly of all, self aware, managed to not only be irritating, boring, and angering, but managed to be offensive as well. Which, technically is an argument that many could lend to the first film. That, however, is another story altogether. Why was Kick-Ass 2 so offensive? I’ll get to that in a bit.
Kick-Ass 2 finds the “Real-Life Superheroes” Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor) and Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) struggling with teenage life after the events of the first film. Hit-Girl’s dad is dead and is trying to fit into a normal life as a teenage girl in High School (which plays out like a lousy Mean Girls parody), Kick-Ass hung up his costume and became a typical lazy teenager, The Red-Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) has decided to be a supervillain and changes his identity to “The Motherfucker” swearing to avenge the death of his father by killing Kick-Ass.
Meanwhile, other “Real Life Superheroes” are popping up after feeling inspired by Kick-Ass’s actions. After a very forced montage that tries to give the story a purpose, Kick-Ass out of the blue decides to put his costume back on, seeks out other heroes, and eventually joins an underground group called “Justice Forever” that is led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). Yadda yadda yadda, The Motherfucker puts together his own team of villains and starts wrecking havok on Kick-Ass until an all out brawl of “good” vs. “evil” erupts.
The first problem with this film is that where the first one had it’s tongue planted firmly in it’s cheek, totally self aware of the cliche’s that it was making fun of, Kick-Ass 2 just feels like it actually agrees with the actions and events taking place on screen. As the first film made fun of situations like a kid in a scuba suit using a rocket launcher to take down a Mob Boss, this film feels like it glorifies all of the silly violence happening on screen. It manages to feel like the Kick-Ass sequel that would been had it been written by an immature 13 year old boy who’s fingers are covered in Cheetoh dust while wearing an OFWGKTA shirt, thinking that that shirt makes him seem “like really cool and badass and shit”.
And here’s why it feels like that: Kick-Ass 2 is packed to the brim with puke/poop gags and jokes about teenagers “getting soaked” while watching a music video by a British Boy-Band called “Union J” (an obvious mockery of One Direction). The worst offender of all, however: a scene hinting at a gang rape that is played out so light heartedly that you’d almost expect to be watching a Nickelodeon show. Had the film actually been good, I still probably would have clocked out mentally upon arriving at this scene.
Not to start a “rape scene” debate, but there’s a difference between a scene in, say, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo that demonizes the act, and this scene in Kick-Ass 2. To sit in a theater and listen to a group of people actually laughing at watching McLovin threaten to rape a girl, but then turn around and attempt masturbation as he couldn’t “get it up” because he “wasn’t in the mood” was just disturbing. People walked out of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo because of that scene’s disturbing intensity, but people should also be walking out of Kick-Ass 2 because it uses rape as a punch line.
Changing pace a bit, I always roll my eyes at people who say “oh it’s too soon” at violent situations in movies that recall certain real life aspects. I’ll be damned though, if I didn’t turn into one of those people during a scene where one of The Motherfucker’s villainous henchmen shoots, maims, and kills a slew of cops in the middle of a suburban street. After the events that took place over that one dreaded week in Boston earlier this year, it just felt weird watching a character in a movie who thought of themselves as a villain kill a bunch of cops the same way that another person who thought of himself as a “cool video game villain” in real life do the exact same. It was just another scene that, although unintentional, made the film feel as if it was glorifying all of the on screen violence.
While we’re talking about the film’s violence, the subject of Jim Carrey denouncing Kick-Ass 2 is begging to be brought up. If you haven’t heard, Jim Carrey filmed his wildly out of character performance of Colonel Stars and Stripes, a masked hero who used to be a mob runner, now a born again Christian, and then later denounced the film entirely. Citing it’s incessant violence and glorification of which, Carrey downright refused to be associated with Kick-Ass 2. It was a shocking and confusing statement to the public at the time, but now having seen the film, I can’t help but agree with and applaud the actor for making the choice to do such.
I guess, really the only positive thing to say about Kick-Ass 2 is that the squad of “super-villains” is kind of an awesome homage to the ridiculous villains of 80s action films, including one super villain known as Mother Russia that pretty much embodies a total Dolph Lundgren vibe. Jim Carrey also does great things with his character’s brief on screen appearance. Other than that though, much like Jim Carrey, as a fan of the first film, I can only run away from this sequel. Far, far away and wash my hands of this terrible, terrible film.
I give Kick-Ass 2 a 1 out of 5.
By Richard Pepper