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I miss Nicolas Cage.

I never thought I’d ever write those words, given how Cage has squandered his not insignificant talents in a seemingly endless string of awful movies of late. But briefly breaking his pattern of garbage performances in garbage roles, he actually did really good work in 2010’s “Kick-Ass.”

“Kick-Ass 2” surely could have used a goodly dose of the goofy, oddly sweet spirit he brought to the role of Batman-styled masked vigilante/loving father Big Daddy. Big Daddy didn’t survive that earlier picture, but his photo grins toothily down at his lethal teen daughter Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) in several scenes in “Kick-Ass 2,” a reminder of what’s been lost.

There’s no redeeming sweetness this time to offset the truly sickening violence in the latest installment of the further adventures of amateur costumed crime fighters led by the characters Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit Girl, who battle amateur costumed evildoers headed by the whiny villain formerly known as Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who has changed his name to an obscenity.

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This being a “Kick-Ass” movie, one expects lots of stompings, spearings and shootings, not to mention gashings, slashings and bashings, with a beheading thrown in as a garnish.

That stuff is embedded in the franchise’s DNA, and “K-A 2” definitely delivers the gory goods. Under the direction of Jeff Wadlow, taking over from “Kick-Ass” director Matthew Vaughn, the violence goes on and on and on.

Jim Carrey, who plays a camo-wearing good-guy character called Col. Stars and Stripes, has famously disavowed the movie on Twitter, tweeting, “In all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence.”

And while there’s no denying Carrey knew what he was signing up for when he took the part, the man has a point.

Interspersed amid the bloodshed, Wadlow, who also wrote the screenplay, has scenes showing Hit Girl in her civilian alter ego of a pink backpack-toting ninth-grader, trying to fit in at high school.

Meanwhile, Kick-Ass, a high-school senior when out of costume, tries to make the transition to manhood. Moretz handles her character’s mix of deadliness and adolescent vulnerability with admirable skill, but every other performer seems adrift in this mess.

Oh Nic, how you are missed.

Soren Andersen:

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