It’s three years since Hit-Girl first kapowed on to the screen, letting rip the C-word at a room full of drug dealers before taking them out with a shiny new butterfly knife. Back then, ‘Kick-Ass’ exploded like a grenade of brattish energy and ultraviolence. The slightly disappointing sequel is less anarchic and more slick. You’ll still be laughing, but where ‘Kick-Ass’ giggled at action cliches, this sometimes slips into them.
Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) is dead and Hit-Girl (Chloë Moretz) has been adopted by his old cop partner. Now 15 and starting high school, she has promised to hang up the nunchucks for good. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is back as Dave Lizewski, the high-school nerd whose only superpower is not dying of shame wearing a green wetsuit on New York’s streets.
Dave’s amateur heroics as Kick-Ass went viral on YouTube and spawned a generation of have-a-go avengers. Now there’s an amateur league of superheroes, led by Jim Carrey. Carrey has since withdrawn support for ‘Kick-Ass 2’, slamming its ‘level of violence’. But his toothpaste grin has never been wider as he slices and dices. What lures Hit-Girl out of retirement is Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). He’s now The Motherfucker, wearing his dead mum’s skintight fetish outfits.
The best thing about ‘Kick-Ass’ was Moretz, and Hit-Girl still gets the best lines. Like the first film, ‘Kick-Ass 2’ pulls the reality of teen life into its fantasy. But Hit-Girl was homeschooled on the weight-to-velocity rates of bullets. So how will she now deal with classroom bitches? The answer is a little lame.
Elsewhere, there’s plenty to enjoy, if a bit guiltily at times. Carrey has an issue with the film’s violence. My problem is the sex. ‘Kick-Ass’ was full of boytastic bad taste – Dave whacking off to a fantasy involving his teacher. Harmless teen boy stuff. ‘Kick-Ass 2’ notches it up with an offensive rape joke (man tries to rape woman, can’t get it up). Okay, he’s the butt of the joke, but in a film whose heroine is a 15-year-old girl beating up a bunch of bad dudes, that’s not just bad taste – it leaves a bad taste.