About an hour into Kick-Ass 2 it occurred to me that Jim Carrey must be crazy. Check that: crazier than usual for someone who became a star by talking out of his butt.
Carrey isn't doing publicity for Kick-Ass 2, claiming its bloody violence — most of it involving teenagers — is personally unsupportable after the Sandy Hook school shootings. He made the movie sound like a 2-hour loop of the hemorrhaging elevator from The Shining.
Deep into this comic book fantasy of superhero wannabes, Carrey's complaint seemed baseless. Mostly bone-crunch bludgeoning, some cartoonishly severed limbs, a couple of gashed carotids but nothing extraordinary after the rabid-puppy bloodthirst of the first Kick-Ass.
Then writer-director Jeff Wadlow turned on the hemoglobin spigot. From there, the psychotic heroes and villains of Kick-Ass 2 choose their weapons and bleed, cuss a blue streak and probably die. It's rambunctiously amusing but the laughs clot in your throat. There's a meaner streak this time to Kick-Ass and Hit Girl's exploits, or maybe Carrey's sensitivity is justified. Either way, the third act of Kick-Ass 2 is a visceral beatdown.
When the movie begins, Hit Girl is history after Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz) promises her guardian Marcus (Morris Chestnut) she'll quit the vigilante game, after it killed her Big Daddy in part one. Mindy still skips school every day to work out in her secret lair, lined with deadly instruments. The death twitch itch is still there.
Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) was just getting the hang of fighting crime as Kick-Ass and not getting his name done to him. Unable to convince Mindy to don her grape-colored costume again, Dave joins the Justice Forever league of amateur superheroes that his earlier adventures inspired. The roving loony brigade is led by Col. Stars and Stripes (Carrey), a born again mobster sporting a red, white and blue ax handle and a crotch-chomping guard named Eisenhower.
They're all in the crosshairs of the former Red Mist, now an unprintable 12-letter supervillain in S&M leather, again played nasally by Christopher Mintz-Plasse. This ultimate spoiled rich kid buys the cruelest gang he can — with names like Genghis Carnage and the Tumor — setting off the movie's vilest violence. You know, you don't often see someone getting the business end of a lawnmower.
Of course, Hit Girl comes out of retirement, and not a moment too soon because Moretz's foul-mouthed physicality, so coarsely counter to her Seventeen magazine sweetness, is still the best thing about this franchise. Hit Girl mines more excitement from a single florist van than most movies wring from fleets of speeding cars. She's an adorable bruiser in what becomes a gaping wound movie.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.