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‘Kick-Ass 2,’ mean and uninspired, will just bum you out

‘KICK-ASS 2’ ★1⁄2

Kick-Ass Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Hit Girl Chloe Grace Moretz

Red Mist Christopher Mintz-Plasse

Marcus Williams Morris Chestnut

Javier John Leguizamo

Col. Stars and Stripes Jim Carrey

Universal Pictures presents a film written and directed by Jeff Wadlow. Running time: 103 minutes. Rated R (for strong violence, pervasive language, crude and sexual content, and brief nudity). Opens Friday at local theaters.

Updated: September 17, 2013 7:37AM



Jim Carrey played this character in this movie, and he was troubled by the violent content only after the fact?

Flashback: About six weeks ago, Carrey tweeted, “I did Kickass a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence … I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart.”

Of course we all share Carrey’s grief over the horror of Sandy Hook — but it’s fair to ask why he was OK with doing “Kick-Ass 2” when so many other real-world slaughters, from Columbine to Virginia Tech to Fort Hood to Aurora, Colo., had already taken place.

Perhaps Sandy Hook was the final straw for Carrey. Maybe he’ll never participate in another violent film for the remainder of his career.

In the meantime, Carrey is a lunatic force to be reckoned with in “Kick-Ass 2” as Col. Stars and Stripes, a born-again, former mob enforcer with a vicious dog named Eisenhower. Clad in military garb, sporting a brush haircut and troubling dental work, wielding a baseball bat with red-white-and blue trimming, the “colonel” is one of the dozens if not hundreds of costumed, self-appointed crime-fighters now working the streets in the name of justice, inspired by the legend of Kick-Ass, the first “real-world” superhero with no actual super powers.

It’s a hell of a performance. Even as Carrey is distancing himself from the film, he’s the best thing in it.

Which isn’t saying much.

We pick up the action in “Kick-Ass 2” with Dave “Kick-Ass” Lizew­ski trying to fit in as a high school senior, eschewing his signature homemade costume and mask for a mop of unruly hair and a T-shirt that says “I Hate Reboots.” Chloe Grace Moretz’s Mindy is a freshman at the same high school, but she ditches every day so she can don the purple costume and fight crime as Hit Girl.

By the time Kick-Ass grows restless and gets back in the game, joining a team of crime-fighters led by the aforementioned Col. Stars and Stripes, Hit Girl has retired, leaving Mindy to become embroiled in a “Mean Girls” subplot that’s resolved in ugly, unfunny fashion.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse is miscast, ineffective and annoying as the prissy, ridiculous villain formerly called Red Mist, whose new name I can’t repeat here. We’ll just call him MF. Seeking revenge for the death of his crime-boss father, MF assembles a team of hard-core mercenaries who create mayhem in the streets.

It’s hard to find comic relief in a character who’s a mass-murdering psychopath. Time and again, someone in “Kick-Ass 2” says, “This is not a comic book” or “This is not a movie” — and then the point is hammered home with another murder. In one particularly loathsome scene, a female villain known as Mother Russia kills 10 police officers in broad daylight.

There’s a lot of meanness in this story — and not just when we’re watching the costumed goons murdering and torturing their victims. Dave says some horrible things to his father, for no reason. When Dave’s girlfriend breaks up with him, she says something that makes her thoroughly unlikable. Even Mindy’s revenge against the “Queen Bee” of the high school feels tone-deaf and cringe-inducing, when it should be a John Hughes-ian moment of wallflower triumph.

When the first “Kick-Ass” film was released in 2010, it was a hard slap across the face to some reviewers and moviegoers who might not have been familiar with the comic book series about ordinary human beings who don colorful costumes and fight crime, despite their lack of superhero powers or even a cool utility belt. To be sure, it was brutal — and it was a shock to hear a pint-sized, purple-costumed, 11-year-old girl routinely spouting obscenities that would make Tarantino blush.

But “Kick-Ass” had something to say. It felt like we were getting a running commentary on the superhero movie genre that had taken over Hollywood. Not so much a satire but a reminder of how great and how silly these fantasies can be — and that no matter how much we wish a man in a cape from another planet will save the day, it’s up to us to act as superheroes in our way.

“Kick-Ass 2” is an uninspired retread. All too often it plays like a Comic-Con gone insane, with costumed do-gooders taking on costumed criminals in gratuitously vicious battles.

This was one of the more depressing moviegoing experiences of the year.



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