'Kick-Ass 2' Review: A Fun Sequel That Continually Trips Over Itself

The two major things missing from Kick-Ass 2 constitute the two major problems with an otherwise decent sequel. Those things are Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman. Vaughn, who directed Kick-Ass in 2010, is an incredibly talented director. Goldman, who wrote the first film, is a fantastic screenwriter. They both return as producers this time around, but their respective duties have taken over by Jeff Wadlow, the director of Cry_Wolf and Never Back Down. Wadlow has an obvious passion for this material and does an admirable job at times. Without Vaughn directing Goldman's words, however, Kick-Ass 2 never comes close to the energy and smarts of the first movie.

That said, fans of the original will enjoy all the new characters, the many tense/violent situations, and the uptempo, fun pacing. Kick-Ass 2 doesn't reach the dizzying heights of the first movie, but in the realm of flawed sequels, it's pretty entertaining.

Kick-Ass 2 has a lot of story to tell and hits the ground running. Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Mindy (Chloë Grace-Moretz) are in high school, both forever changed by the events of the first film. After forming an even deeper bond during training, each character goes their own way. Dave, who masquerades as Kick-Ass, joins up with a super group named Justice Forever. Mindy, aka Hit-Girl, is forced to give the superhero life up to appease her guardian (Morris Chestnut). The film follows both of those arcs simultaneously, and each has plenty of interesting and surprising moments.

At the same time, we're also following Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who created the heroic Red Mist persona in the first movie, as he evolves into a super-villain named The Mother F***er. His arc is by far the most intriguing, simply because he's using the same resource comic book heroes like Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark do – money. Chris uses his near-infinite cash to build his own super team, The Toxic Mega C**ts, to aid him in taking revenge on Kick-Ass for what the hero did to his father in the first film.

Such a lengthy narrative description is necessary when discussing Kick-Ass 2 because the best bits of the movie are where these three characters, all on different paths, begin to blossom. Dave develops new friendships, Mindy discovers the woes of high school and Chris learns about his diabolical family. These narratives are all engaging and their intersections are when the movie really picks up speed.

The successful story is all the work of Mark Millar, who co-created the Kick-Ass universe with John Romita Jr. Wadlow's contributions, the dialogue and performances, constantly hamstring what's happening in the story. His work isn't consistently bad but just as the film begins to gain some favor, an awkward performance choice, terrible visual effect or overly melodramatic piece of dialogue ruins the momentum. This happens time and time again in Kick-Ass 2.

Actors like Jim Carrey, Donald Faison, Mindy Booth and John Leguizamo play new supporting roles in the film and help elevate their scenes. Olga Kurkulina in particular, as the villainous Mother Russia, is a showstopper. Unfortunately, none of these characters are ever given a chance to breathe because the story has so much ground to cover. They're welcome additions, but underutilized.

Even though Kick-Ass 2 never quite clicks 100 percent, there are plenty of memorable moments, new characters and fun action scenes spread across the film. Ultimately, those make a slightly above average film entertaining. Kick-Ass 2 isn't going to win over anyone who didn't already like the world created in the first film, but fans of the the 2010 original will be happy to see the franchise back, even if it's a much lesser version of the product.

/Film rating: 6.5 out of 10