Kick-Ass rocks! It’s a fast paced, funny, ultra violent love letter to comic books and superheroes. It reinvents the genre with new levels of visual style, edginess and nerd wish fufilment. High octane, electric, and relentlessly fun! Kick-Ass lives up to it’s name.
Based of the highly acclaimed comic from Mark Miller, Kick-Ass asks the question ” Why hasn’t anyone ever tried to be a superhero?” and answers it.
The story is of a typical suburban nerdy, unnoticed teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) who dons a costume and sets out to become a crime fighter. The venture gets him stabbed, beaten, broken and nearly killed. Unable to resist the temptation to make a difference he persists. After a faulty start he eventually meets some success by saving a victim from a thug beat down. This event is recorded by a cell-phone ready gawking crowd and uploaded to the internet. Becoming an overnight internet sensation he attracts the attention of more serious vilgilantes at work in town. An uber violent superhero father & daughter team Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) who are waging a blood war on mafia kingpin Frank D’Amico(Mark Strong), the man responsible for Damon Macreadys (Big Daddy) downfall. Meanwhile D’Amico’s son sets out to assist in the capture of the vigilantes plaguing the family by creating his own secret identity, Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).
That’s the quick version anyway. The intersecting and eventual merging paths of these very differently motivated characters was well written and fleshed out. It actually portrays very realistic character motivation and progression. Dave’s desire to become something he is not, while fighting off teenage angst is endearing as it’s something we can all relate. He turns from a nobody in high-school into Kick-Ass the superhero! He later takes the traits from both Dave and Kick-Ass and becomes the person he is happy with. His story is the most central and connective one in this action/adventure flick but it’s siginficantly overshadowed by the more compelling revenge tale of Big Daddy and daughter in tow. A vengeance obsessed father who has warped his little girl into a killing machine is certainly outlandish but you believe he is a father who he loves and cares for his daughter, and yet, you know he is a cruel man, who murders and tortures many people in his relentless pursuit for justice. Throw in a vicious mob that flexes its muscles and ups the brutality in response to being picked off by gun toting, knife wielding vigilantes then you got a nice little tongue and cheek message of how violence begets more violence.
Modern day apathy and violence are are just the undertones to a deliciously daring and hilarious take on the superhero genre. It’s a true interpretation of the colorful comics it parodies.
Bringing a ballsy comic book filled with chaos and cartoonish gimmicks to life is no easy task but Director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake) and his writer Jane Goldman (Stardust) get the job done with snappy dialogue and pitch-perfect sets and stunts. The fights are one of the greatest parts of the whole film. They’re well directed and shot marvellously, you get all the death and gore upfront and in your face (not for the faint of heart). Certainly the best action was whenever Hit-Girl would pop up on screen. There’s something very amusing about a sweet and innocent looking little girl decapitating people and using profanity (people of weak constitution might take offense to this). Her scenes were fast-paced, well choreographed, rapidly edited and make for a dynamic, colorful experience.
Chloe Moretz performance as Hit-Girl is by far the coolest and draws the most attention but the rest of the cast equally delivers. The acting is terrific. Aaron Johnson breaks the mold of the typical geek set by the likes of Micheal Cera (Juno) and Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland). We feel his desire to be more suave, be apart of the in crowd and above all else make a diffrence. Christopher Mintz-Plasse steps out of his Mclovin stereotype and shows a kid who wants to earn his fathers love. Nicolas Cage is at his very best. He brings sympathy, charm and whimsy to the role of a psychopathic hero. He’s nod to the great Adam West (1960’s Batman) was a nice touch too.
Througout the non-stop action and thoroughly engaging story the films tone is either it’s greatest achievement or biggest flaw. It shifts between being a teenage comedy, a super hero farce and a serious, violent action film. It seems it doesn’t know what it wants to be. It just does whatever it wants. It’s certainly not conventional but perhaps thats why it works. Regardless, this is a cartoonish, over the top, kinetic trip! A fresh take on a worn genre and succeeds in every way.