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Video Reviews

Plugged In Rating
Content Caution
MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Drama, Comedy, Action/Adventure
Cast
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Dave Lizewski/Kick-A‑‑; Chloë Grace Moretz as Mindy Macready/Hit-Girl; Morris Chestnut as Det. Marcus Williams; Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Chris D'Amico/The M‑‑‑‑‑f‑‑‑er; Jim Carrey as Col. Stars and Stripes; Robert Emms as Insect Man; Lindy Booth as Night B‑‑ch; Clark Duke as Marty/Battle Guy; Augustus Prew as Todd/A‑‑ Kicker; Donald Faison as Dr. Gravity; Steven Mackintosh as Tommy's Dad; Monica Dolan as Tommy's Mum; Claudia Lee as Brooke; Garrett M. Brown as Mr. Lizewski; John Leguizamo as Javier
Director
Jeff Wadlow (Never Back Down, Cry Wolf)
Distributor
Universal Pictures
In Theaters
August 16, 2013
On Video
December 17, 2013
Reviewer
Adam R. Holz
Kick-A-- 2

Kick-A-- 2

"Aren't you tired of being on your own?"

"Don't you want to know someone's got your back?"

Those are the things Dave Lizewski (aka Kick-A‑‑) asks his high school compatriot and crime-fighter Mindy Macready (aka Hit-Girl). And it's a tempting offer. But Mindy's a hard sell.

After all, she's bristling with martial arts skills, thanks to her deceased father Big Daddy's single-minded parenting style. And she's determined to take up the mantle of her dad's crime-fighting legacy. As for Dave, well, YouTube fame notwithstanding, he's still more or less a green-costumed superhero poser. But Mindy's moved by his offer and agrees to train her friend.

Until, that is, Mindy's legal guardian, Det. Marcus Williams, lays down the law. "Big Daddy robbed you of your childhood," he argues. "Hit-Girl is not who you are." And so he exacts a promise from her to trade her baddie-busting alter ego for that of a normal high school freshman.

Dave's devastated. He doesn't understand that sort of logic at all. Normal? What's so good about normal? And so, in the guise of Kick-A‑‑, he heads off to locate other likeminded, would-be heroes who are determined to combat the evil that lurks all around them. He finds exactly such a group, led by a Mob enforcer turned born-again Christian, Col. Stars and Stripes.

Others in his ragtag clique include two parents whose son was abducted (who go by Tommy's Dad and Tommy's Mum); a ballet instructor whose sister was murdered (Night B‑‑ch); a self-identified gay adolescent who refuses to wear a mask (Insect Man); and a bat-wielding copywriter (Mr. Gravity). Dave's friend Marty joins the group too, complete with a ready-to-rumble moniker: Battle Guy. Together, they form Justice Forever.

With so many heroes looking for nefarious nasties, it's no surprise that quite a few turn up.

The Justice Forever gang makes quick work of an Asian underworld kingpin who's sexually trafficking young women. But their real opponent, they learn, is fellow adolescent Chris D'Amico. In Kick-A‑‑, he was called Red Mist. But ever since Dave killed the lad's father in that film, Chris has seethed with vengeful rage. After he electrocutes his own mother, he dons her bondage costume and dubs himself The M‑‑‑‑‑f‑‑‑‑er.

His sole desire: to kill Kick-A‑‑. And using his rich father's ill-gotten gains, he recruits a group of sociopaths (with names like Mother Russia, Black Death, Genghis Carnage and The Tumor) to accomplish exactly that goal.

Right about now, of course, Mindy realizes that being a normal high school girl isn't all it's cracked up to be. So it's a good thing (the film wants us to believe) that Hit-Girl never ditched her purple costume.

Positive Elements

Dave, Mindy, Col. Stars and Stripes, and all the other heroes are motivated by a desire to see evil pushed back. At the same time, Mindy realizes after killing six of those baddies that vigilante "justice" isn't something that the law recognizes. She knows that just going out and killing evildoers—no matter how much they've "got it coming"—isn't really the right approach (though that doesn't stop her).

Underscoring the point is Col. Stars and Stripes' expressed desire to bypass the body count and up the justice ante by facilitating proper arrests (though if his vicious German shepherd, Eisenhower, happens to chew a few genitals off first, then so be it).

Mindy and Dave initially lie to their respective guardians about what they're doing. But the adults eventually wise up and command their young charges to leave off with the crime-fighting already! And, amazingly, the adolescents do so, even though they don't want to. Mindy submits to becoming a regular Jane high school student, while Dave hangs up his Kick-A‑‑ costume.

OK. Not permanently, of course.

But it's only when Dave is in mortal danger that Mindy tells Marcus that being Hit-Girl is an inseparable part of her identity she must embrace. Meanwhile, Dave keeps his vow until his father is brutally murdered in jail after confessing to being Kick-A‑‑ in order to save his son. And Dave—who has treated his conscientious blue-collar pops quite awfully—begins to realize just how much his father has done to try to care for him, including teaching him that all of our actions have real consequences and, of course, laying down his life for him.

Another surprisingly powerful moment comes when Dave refuses to let go of Chris, who's dangling above a shark tank. Chris says he wants to die, but Dave counters that life isn't like a comic book—that death is real.

In the end, Kick-A‑‑ 2 suggests that being a "real" superhero isn't about wearing a costume or hunting down criminals, but simply acting heroically in everyday life when necessary.

Spiritual Content

Col. Stars and Stripes is described as a "born-again Christian." And he scolds those around him for misusing Jesus' name. Chris, meanwhile, describes himself as "an evil Jesus." A joke pokes at Jehovah's Witnesses.

Sexual Content

Two topless prostitutes are shown in Chris' pool, and his HQ also boasts two pole dancers in skimpy outfits. His costume is composed of black leather female bondage accoutrements. Night B‑‑ch's outfit reveals cleavage and midriff. The skimpy, pro wrestling-like getup of Mother Russia reveals even more. Justice Forever raids a kingpin who is forcibly using women as prostitutes. The heroes rescue several of them—who are all wearing lingerie.

Night B‑‑ch and Kick-A‑‑ have sex in a bathroom stall (we see their feet) and in a closet—without even knowing each other's real names. Attempted rape, masturbation and impotence all get jumbled up into one suggestive scene. Sex gags are nearly nonstop, referencing a long, pornographic list of sex acts and perversions, from gay oral sex to first-time sex. As mentioned, Insect Man is proud to finally be out of the closet.

High school queen bee Brooke does a very sensual dance in revealing clothes. She also tries to convince a homely young underclassman that the best way to become popular is to make a sex tape.

Violent Content

The film's title is telling, but it's actually not quite descriptive enough when it comes to the violence. Intense, outrageously bloody, brutal, crazy-painful hand-to-hand combat clutters nearly every scene.

Mindy stabs a ruffian through the hand with a spear. She makes him promise not to move … and when he does, she lops off his hand completely, with gushing results. She also belches out bedlam in an scary scene on a freeway as she hurls one assailant after another off a moving van, several of whom are run over horrifically. Her bruising battle with Mother Russia—who might be likened to a female version of Dolph Lundgren's Drago in Rocky IV—ends when she rams dozens of shards of broken glass into the woman's body.

That's after Mother Russia does awful damage herself earlier in the film, killing 10 NYC policemen. Two are blown up with a propane tank. Two others are run over with a lawnmower.

We see a guy get run through with a sword, then have his neck broken. We hear he was also decapitated. Someone has most of his limbs and, he tells us, his penis bitten off by a shark. (We see blood in the water.) A dog clamps down on a baddie's crotch. And Mindy says she needs pliers to remove a man's genitals so she can stuff them in his mouth—to get information out of him.

One man's throat is unexpectedly slit. Another is beaten and hanged in his jail cell. Others are hit with weapons—knives, bats, nunchucks—in the face, in the crotch, etc. And on and on it goes until the final battle royal involving perhaps 50 would-be superheroes and an equally large gaggle of villains all beating, bashing, braining and brutally seeking to best one another.

Chris kicks his mother's tanning bed, accidentally causing it to electrocute her. Mindy jokes about slitting her wrists when she doesn't want to do something.

Part of Mindy's training of Dave involves her shooting him with different pistols—a comedic scene that could inflict tragic consequences if imitated in the real world. Dave wears a bulletproof vest, but the impacts hurl him backwards.

Crude or Profane Language

Marcus is clearly concerned about Mindy's welfare. And he's also concerned about her salty language, telling her she has to put a dollar in a "swear jar" every time she curses.

Well. If this film followed suit, there'd be more than $200 in there. We hear close to 50 uses of the f-word, at least 25 of which are tied to "mother" (most referring to Chris' alter ego). There are nearly 30 s-words and 50-plus uses of "a‑‑" (most referring to Dave's alter ego). "B‑‑ch" is used about 25 times (roughly half referring to Night B‑‑ch). God's name gets abused a dozen times (often with "d‑‑n"). Jesus' name is misused five or six times too.

A whopping dozen different crude-to-obscene words and phrases single out male and female genitalia, including two uses of the c-word (one of which in incorporated into the name of the villain's group, Toxic Mega C‑‑‑s). Chris gives racially charged names to several lackeys, and addresses others with epithets and vulgar put-downs. Brooke admonishes several thugs to stop calling Dave homophobic slurs such as "f-ggot" and "queer bait."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Teens drink at a party. Adults imbibe in another scene. Dave's dad goes through his son's room because he thinks the boy's on drugs. Several young women say they're going to "get high on bath salts." A lit cigarette is used as a fuse. Mindy gets injected with an adrenaline syringe, reviving her in combat.

Other Negative Elements

Dave and Mindy lie cavalierly to their respective guardians. Mindy pretends to go to school but each day immediately takes a cab to her dad's old superhero hideout before she goes out crime-busting. She even hacks the school's computer to make it look as if she's got perfect attendance.

Mindy wreaks nasty revenge on high school girls who've treated her badly by firing a weapon at them that instantly induces vomiting and diarrhea (which we see). The weapon is used again later in battle (with similar results).

Conclusion

There are moments of strange, almost Napoleon Dynamite-like sweetness in Kick-A‑‑ 2 that caught me off guard. Marcus' determination to free Mindy from her violent ways is one. Dave's realization of just how much his dad truly loved him is another. And there are a few more, such as the film's insistence that heroism isn't about costumes and superheroes, but doing the right thing in the moment.

Taken in isolation, watched, say, in the form of a severely edited highlight reel, those moments could prove to be inspirational.

But then there's the rest of the film, which, at least at the screening I attended, was very much not edited.

Kick-A‑‑ 2 exults in bloated obscenities and absurdities, along with Tarantino-esque gory "glory," moments of mind-boggling violence perpetrated by teenagers and played for guffaws. In fact, actor Jim Carrey voiced his unease about the film's violence after he'd finished with its production phase. He tweeted, "I did Kicka‑‑ a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence." In a follow-up, he added, "I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart."

Carrey has subsequently refused to promote the movie.

Commenting on that decision, Huffington Post senior entertainment writer Mike Ryan said, "Having now seen Kick-A‑‑ 2, Carrey probably made the right decision. … Kick-A‑‑ 2 is a grim, grim movie."

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