"Kick-Ass 2" doesn't pull any punches when it comes to violence and language, just like its comic book source material by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. The foul-mouthed follow-up to 2010's "Kick-Ass" finds the titular hero, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, struggling to up his hero game as more and more costumed vigilantes start roaming the streets. Alongside training sessions from the teenage Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), Kick-Ass finds himself joining a fledgling group of crime fighters called Justice Forever, led by Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes.
While critics praise Moretz's performance, who gets to evolve her character past being a tween with a 'tude, they're split on how the sequel stacks up to its predecessor. The laughs are there, as are the bloody brawls, but opinions are divided on whether the film is missing the biting and satirical cultural commentary that elevated the first film. This change could have been caused by Matthew Vaughn's vacated director's chair — filled by relative newcomer Jeff Wadlow — but is this change for the better?
Read on for a sample of "Kick-Ass 2" reviews.
"Wadlow generally excels at the choreographed action scenes including the final showdown between the supervillains and the group of misfits led by Kick-Ass. Part of why the violence can be tolerated is that it's so over the top it's clearly being played up for entertainment purposes much like how Tarantino used violence in "Kill Bill"... For a movie that's all about being edgy and in your face, there are a surprising number of dramatic character moments, particularly between Mindy and Marcus and Dave and his father, although they do feel somewhat out of place in a movie that rarely takes anything too seriously." — Edward Douglas, ComingSoon.net
Hit-Girl's A Highlight
"Of all the movies self-consciously referenced by this pulp-savvy series, who knew that 'Mean Girls' would yield the most wickedly funny results? Wadlow seems to be directly channeling that classic of high-school anxiety as Mindy befriends the most popular girls in school (led by queen bee Claudia Lee), experiences a mild sexual awakening via a boy-band music video (courtesy of Brit group Union J), and comes perilously close to losing sight of who she really is. It's a sharp, satisfying little story of bullying and comeuppance that works as well as it does on the strength of Moretz's terrific performance." — Justin Chang, Variety
More Comedy, More Violence
"Wadlow has decided he's making a straight-up comedy, and he demonstrates a knack for it. There's a lightness even to the beatdowns and head-shots, a punchline timing on the stabbings and severed limbs, and the good sense to hustle through the dark material setting up the climax — a rumble, West Side Story-style, except with a shark tank and a heroine named Night Bitch." — Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
Drifts Into Cliche
"And while the original reveled in exploring the pathetic, rib-cracking realities of street-level superhero-ing, its sequel too often drifts into the staples its predecessor mocked (training montages and dead-parent-inspired character growth both get a look in). Still, if some of the shock value's gone, this is witty, wild and wired enough to be far from a super-zero." — Matt Risley, Total Film
McLovin Holds His Own
"'Kick-Ass 2' is an extremely faithful adaptation of its namesake source comic, although it plays faster and looser with the Hit-Girl series it also draws from, and the budget doesn't stretch to Times Square. Its main deviation is Mintz-Plasse, whose goofy PVC-clad idiot, rechristened The Motherf---er and now leader of evil gang The Toxic Megac---s, is far more McLovin than Millar. While it's clear that [Jim] Carrey is intended as this film's [Nicolas] Cage, it might have been a concern that Kick-Ass 2 was lacking a villain of Mark Strong's stature, but it's a pleasant surprise that The Motherf---er holds his own." — Owen Williams, Empire Online
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