Release Date: April 16th, 2010 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Matthew Vaughn Actors: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Chloe Grace Moretz, Nicolas Cage
omic book movies don’t get much more original than this. At once a searing examination of the generally unrealistic portrayal of superheroes and a contrastingly fantastical masked crime-fighter adventure, “Kick-Ass” merges the unbelievers with the devoted, to create a film with just the right amount of violence, comedy, cursing, and ass-kicking – mostly involving children. Almost an anti-superhero film, it dissects the absurdity of its subject while showcasing the very adrenaline-pumping excitement of uncompromising vigilantism and reckless revenge that such films thrive upon. It also wisely selects for its catalysts some of the most intriguing and unlikely heroes to ever grace the screen, complete with flashy costumes and obscenity-filled one-liners.
Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is just a typical comic book-reading teenager whose only real superpower is his invisibility with girls. He’s always pondered why no one has ever tried to be a superhero in real life, and with just the right amount of “optimism and naivety,” he sets out to become just that. While most superheroes rely on high-tech gadgetry, special powers, or superior strength, Dave resorts to simple bravado and his unique ability to endure heavy beatings. Donning a green and yellow wetsuit (presumably inspired in part by his constant consumption of Mountain Dew) and adopting the moniker “Kick-Ass,” the fearless teen begins his adventures as a crime-fighter.
Even after his first attempt lands him in the hospital, the determined crusader refuses to yield. He soon becomes an internet phenomenon when his quest for justice is caught on camera, rallying the entire city behind him. But there are those that do not wish to see such a deterrent for crime; the ruthless drug lord Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) initiates a campaign to bring an end to Kick-Ass’ days of stardom. Just as Dave’s extracurricular activities catch the eyes of those that wish to do him harm, they also attract the attention of superiorly furnished father-daughter superhero duo Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), as well as the copycat Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). In the climactic confrontation between good and evil, Dave will learn what it truly means to be a hero.
Ultra slick, stylish, cool, and thrilling, “Kick-Ass” definitely lives up to its name. Once again director Matthew Vaughn revels in outlandish substance, demonstrating that style can certainly make up for content. Here, however, both a unique, over-the-top vision and a plot unlike anything before it are smartly delivered. And audiences also get to see a little girl slice and dice her way through knife-wielding, gun-toting gangsters, all while dispensing colorful language.
One of the film’s greatest accomplishments is the setup for anticipation. From the get-go, viewers are witness to a torture scene, comedic violence against a small child, and the failed attempts of Dave to actually foil a crime. It’s anyone’s guess as to how extreme the mayhem can get from here, allowing just about every subsequent scene to boil over with suspense, excitement, and the unexpected. There are no boundaries. Nicholas Cage turns in another great performance as an unbalanced character, and Chloe Grace Moretz steals the show with her fragile demeanor, outrageous stunts, and spontaneous cursing. The other elements that work so perfectly for “Kick-Ass” are the music and editing, both establishing stunningly hilarious contrasts; opera and gunfire, bloodshed and calm, abrupt transitions in musical styles and fast-paced cuts alternated with slow-motion.
Putting on a mask and helping people doesn’t always require a superhero, but many see injustice and only wish they could intervene. With a serial killer persistence, Dave’s fantasy turns first to reality and then to horror. He may not get the ladies (in fact, he has to play along as a homosexual just to get close), but his gifts include the surprising ability to take a sound whipping. It’s definitely not believable, but “Kick-Ass” is easily one of the most appealing ways to introduce someone to the world of superheroes.
– The Massie Twins