In the sequel to 2010's have-a-go hit, the antics of nerd-turned-superhero Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) have inspired a whole gang of would-be vigilantes, including Jim Carrey's Colonel Stars and Stripes. Meanwhile, teenage butt-kickess Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) opts for the quiet life, only to be rudely awoken with the return of Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) - now reinvented as The Mother F***er - seeking to avenge the death of his father. Yes, it's another all-action hammer blow to the shins of decorum.
Chloë Grace Moretz
This comic book sequel doesn't knock you off your feet like the first instalment but has enough fast-paced freakishness to merit your time.
Dave Lisewski's (Taylor-Johnson) first foray into costumed crime-fighting was a reasonable hit in cinemas but a smash on DVD, with tabloid hysteria about Chloe Moretz's cursing fuelling the fire.
Fortunately, the Mark Millar adaptation's success wasn't just down to scaremongering critics but the anarchic rush of Matthew Vaughn's action sequences and a showstopping turn by Nicolas Cage as the Adam West-inspired vigilante Big Daddy.
After his triumphant, Elvis-soundtracked takedown of Mark Strong's mob boss Frank D'Amico at the climax of Kick-Ass, Dave has inspired a superhero 'movement', with Scrubs' Donald Faison and a fun, but sadly underused Jim Carrey among the troupe.
But with Hit Girl (Moretz) wrestling with her identity and the pangs of puberty, and a vengeful Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) intent on becoming the world's first real super-villain, Kick-Ass faces the biggest challenge of his fledgling career.
Vaughn, and original screenwriter Jane Goldman are on board in production capacities for this Universal sequel, but it's Wadlow who's carrying the can, both writing and directing. And, unfortunately, he can't quite deliver the ass-kicking comic book comedy you'd have hoped for.
The absence of the element of surprise was an inevitability since the first film explored the notion of real people becoming superheroes, but treading the same water poses a problem here.
Wadlow's screenplay is gag-laden and full of OTT set-pieces, but for the most part, that's all they are; sketches about Hit Girl confronting adolescence, Dave sparring with his concerned dad and Red Mist growing from comic diversion into 'The Motherf****r', a full-blown evil mastermind.Luckily, Wadlow seems to be well aware that, despite any pretensions of realism, Kick-Ass 2 beats with a cartoonish heart.
It's a glossy, zesty film that has attention deficit disorder plaguing its script but manages to rattle along quickly and amusingly enough to maintain the audience's gaze.
The director has fun with the form, flashing 'Earlier...' and 'Meanwhile...' title cards on the screen as the action escalates in sun-drenched, vivid technicolour, while Mintz-Plasse has a ball as an orphan with an unusual, unexpectedly kinky coping mechanism.
Dave's arc was largely fulfilled in the first film, so despite being the title character, Kick-Ass is merely a bit-part player. Hit Girl would have been a more apt title, with Moretz in dazzling form.
The purple-wigged, pintsized killing machine hasn't lost her fighting skills and is developing a burgeoning line in post-skirmish quips but it's the character's emotional journey where Moretz really comes into her own. She might be playing a foul-mouthed superheroine with evident Stockholm Syndrome, but the 16-year-old keenly captures the alienation of being a teenager.
She won't win one for Kick-Ass 2 but Oscars await this fantastically talented youngster. The simply bizarre, annoyingly cross-promotional appearance of X Factor rejects Union J aside, Kick-Ass 2 is a rapid-fire, enjoyably hyperactive comic book romp.
While it lacks the impact of its predecessor, this is an energetic, often hilarious and undeniably entertaining ride.