If there is one absolute fact about the world of “Kick-Ass” it’s this: Fans could gleefully watch Chloë Grace Moretz dismantle enemies all day long as the pint-sized purveyor of justice, Hit Girl. Here’s the thing though, at 103 minutes total run time, “Kick-Ass 2” isn’t all that long, and our beloved Hit Girl spends a good deal of time sidelined. This sequel, which fights its way into theaters on Aug. 16, is not an unsuccessful one, but like a costume faded after too many washes, it lacks some of the luster of the original.
As the story opens we find Dave learning how to take a bullet, courtesy of Hit Girl. It transpires that Dave, while happy to be well-away from the danger of his life as a superhero, was also bored, and so decided to take up training with his old pal Hit Girl, neé Mindy. Ever the vigilant warrior, Hit Girl is living a double life, pretending to go to school while secretly training, that is until she gets busted by her adoptive father Marcus and forced into retirement. While Dave sets out in search of some new super companions, Mindy is forced to take on the harsh realities of being a girl in high school.
Dave quickly meets up with a band of superheroes inspired by his antics as Kick-Ass. The team, comprised of Colonel Stars and Stripes, Insect Man, Night B***h, Battle Guy and Dr. Gravity , largely lack Hit Girl’s polish and prowess (Stars and Stripes being the big exception), but they are enthusiastic, and let’s be honest, a little bit more Dave’s speed. The troop of do gooders start to make a few waves with their deeds, only to attract the attention of Chris D’Amico, formerly known as Red Mist and now sworn to destroy Kick-Ass and reborn as, The Motherf%&*^r, the world’s first super villain. This essentially sets the stage for a showdown between heroes and super villains and all manner of unlikely hi-jinks ensue–some of them downright enjoyable and others only mildly amusing. Fortunately, Hit Girl’s ongoing battle against the forces of high school evil is consistently interesting enough to carry the film to the third reel and all of the action.
Perhaps it’s simply that “Kick-Ass 2” is weighted with expectations while its predecessor was an unexpected delight, or perhaps it is the missing touch of Matthew Vaughn who so adeptly wrote and directed “Kick-Ass”, but some intangible snap is missing from the proceedings here. Still, fans of the original will find fun in the dark humor, and the scenes where Grace Moretz does get in on the action.