Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall 1.0 stars

Queasy-making "real-life superhero" story, not so much for the graphic, nasty violence (though there is plenty of that) as for its roller coaster of tonal shifts. Emotionally shattering events — the murder of a father, the accidental killing of a mother, the slaughter of ten policemen in broad daylight on a suburban street by a Russian superwoman — serve as comedically tinged plot points, while social betrayal by a trio of high-school mean girls is played as devastating drama. The film asks all the old questions again and again: is the hero's true identity the man or the mask, do superheroes make the world better or merely add color to the mayhem, etc. But it doesn't seem particularly interested in answering them. Frenetically filmed and apathetically acted, with the possible exception of star Chloe Grace Moretz, who invests Hit Girl with enough pubescent sexuality and lethal athleticism to make a million fanboys swoon. Special viewing bonus: watch a pretty girl get diarrhea! 2013.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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