The energetic and breezily disreputable 2010 comic-book adaptation Kick-Ass, about the bathetic crime-fighting efforts of a nerdy teenager (Aaron Taylor- Johnson) in a homemade superhero costume, offered a refreshing antidote to the self-seriousness of most other Hollywood superhero films.
So too, this sequel, but with somewhat diminished returns. Chloë Grace Moretz's foul-mouthed pint-sized avenger Hit-Girl was the best thing about the first film, so her part is expanded, and we get to see how a girl who "can kill a man with his own finger" might get along with the jocks and Mean Girl types at her high school.
The bad guys are all cartoonish so as not to complicate the film's attitude towards vigilantism. Without the British director Matthew Vaughn at the helm, however, the sequel is both less polished and at the same time more like a standard Hollywood product.
Instead of delivering all the ultra-violence and laughs it should, Kick-Ass 2 insists that its characters face up to the real-world consequences of their play-fighting; that they question their identities and learn important life lessons. In short, it keeps on spoiling the fun.