Wadlow's 'Kick-Ass 2' Misses The Mark With Female Characters
August 19th, 2013 7:17am EDT
No disrespect to Mark Waters and Tina Fey intended, but Jeff Wadlow’s “Kick-Ass 2” seems more like a crappy sequel to “Mean Girls,” than a follow up to Matthew Vaughn’s awesome comic book adaptation “Kick-Ass.” Instead of delivering the amusing uber violence, delightfully dark humor, and pointed parody that made Vaughn’s flick so much fun, Wadlow wallows in the stereotypical conniving of vapid teenage girls. This bizarre focus is neither insightful nor entertaining, because it never rises above inane moments.
Wadlow’s mess starts with a story that gives Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz) aka Hit-Girl more screen time, even though Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) aka Kick-Ass is still the main character and narrator. At the outset of the film, Dave is suffering from the boredom of giving up his alter ego, while Mindy is plagued by the loneliness of fighting crime without her father. So Dave joins her in exchange for training to help him become tougher. Unfortunately Mindy’s stepfather Marcus (Morris Chestnut) discovers what she’s up to and makes her promise to quit in favor of a “normal” life. That’s when the picture takes a turn for the worse, as Mindy reluctantly agrees and starts trying to fit in with her peers.
Dave attempts to change Mindy’s mind, however his efforts fail, so he joins a merry band of superheroes led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). All seems to be going well with Dave’s new team until his old nemesis Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) becomes a villain called The Motherf***er, and assembles an army of bad guys. Then, The Motherf***er discovers that Dave is Kick-Ass and starts systematically destroying everything important in Dave’s life. With his world crumbling and an epic throwdown on the horizon, Dave must ask Mindy for assistance, but will she break her vow to Marcus?
The most frustrating aspect of “Kick-Ass 2” is how horrendously written all of the female characters are. Although the first film established Hit-Girl as a stoic young woman with a low bulls**t tolerance, Wadlow turns her into someone emotional and weak just like the mean high school girls she's constantly at odds with. His new female players are even more annoying, because they’re cliches on opposite ends of the spectrum. Night Bitch is an oversexed, useless hero, while Mother Russia’s strength as a villain is eclipsed by her butch demeanor and revealing outfit. Pathetically, the most well-rounded woman here is Colonel Stars and Stripes’ dog. She is powerful because she’s trained to bite guys in the crotch, yet thankfully she doesn’t have flaws or have to show any skin to prove her worth.
What makes no sense about “Kick-Ass 2” is why Mindy bothers trying to earn the approval of her snotty peers. The movie attempts to show us that puberty clouds her judgement and the actions of others force her into retaliatory catty behavior, however that doesn’t add up. She’s a mature, self-assured character who already knows that she doesn’t belong with others her age. Given that information, her quest for identity and eventual conclusion that she should remain Hit-Girl are superfluous. At least in her action sequences as Hit-Girl, Mindy still keeps her trademark dirty mouth and impressive ninja skills, however these positive traits are still overshadowed by her dumb high school scenes.
Entertaining supporting performances are the only thing that saves the film from total oblivion. With great makeup and a grounded approach, Jim Carrey totally disappears into the role of former mob enforcer turned born again Christian Colonel Stars and Stripes. Donald Faison is also humorous as the nerdy bat-wielding hero Dr. Gravity. Perhaps the most surprising effort comes from John Leguizamo, who plays The Motherf***er’s fiercely loyal bodyguard/henchman Javier. Leguizamo injects unexpected likability into a guy who knows he’s working for the wrong side.
You’re likely to be let down by Wadlow’s “Kick-Ass 2,” if you dug the first movie for its excellent jokes and its funny take on the typical superhero film. Although Wadlow’s film has an equal amount of violence, its humor misses the mark and its story doesn’t effectively parody this genre’s cliches. If you’d prefer not to see awful female characters and witness Hit-Girl’s image tarnished by moronic exploits, then you should steer clear of this picture.
My Grade: D...as in Don’t Watch This Crap.
Photo Credits: © Universal Pictures