Movie review: Kick-Ass

The fact that you are completely comfortable watching an 11-year-old girl shoot people point blank in the head means a film has done a good job in establishing its tone from the first frame.

“Kick-Ass” is a comic book movie in the truest sense of the term, an absurd, over-the-top, no-punches-pulled adaptation of Mark Millar’s groundbreaking graphic novel. By the film’s finale, nothing’s shocking anymore, because the movie has enveloped us in its world of heroes and villains.

In some ways, it’s a victory that the movie even made it to the silver screen in the first place. Director Matthew Vaughn, met with resistance on all fronts by the major studios (and this is a case where you could rightfully understand their cold feet), decided to produce and fund the movie himself, therefore allowing him to make a faithful adaptation.

It’s a funny, brutal take on people who decide to take the law into their own hands while at the same time trying to find their place in an increasingly vanilla world. No, it’s not on the technical level of “Iron Man” or the emotional level of “The Dark Knight,” but in its profane way, is a worthy addition to the realm of quality comic book films.

Newcomer Aaron Johnson stars as Dave Lizewksi, a totally average high school student who decides to break out of his doldrums by becoming a super hero. Of course, this sounds a lot easier than it is, considering that Dave has no abilities, smarts or crime fighting acumen.

His initial foray into superhero territory leaves him in the hospital with a broken body and reputation for being gay, which would frustrate Dave except it gets him much closer to the girl of his dreams.

But Dave doesn’t give up, and during his second outing as Kick-Ass, he becomes an Internet fad by helping stop some punks from beating up an innocent guy. Sure, he takes a beating himself, but the fact that his heroism was captured for the public to see makes him an overnight sensation.

When Kick-Ass gets in over his head during his next mission, he meets the real heroes of New York – the masked avenger Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and his pint-sized, foul-mouthed sidekick Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz). They’ve been taking out the henchman of mob leader Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), but it’s Kick-Ass who starts getting the credit.

Of course, Big Daddy and Hit Girl are the real deal (if not a bit psychotic), while Kick-Ass is a goof wearing a costume. When D’Amico turns his sights onto stopping Kick-Ass, our hero has to team up with the pair to save his own skin.

Now say what you want about Cage’s curious casting choices, but his oddness works well here. Who else can make shooting a girl directly in the chest seem comical in one scene, and later deliver an intense emotional narrative while burned to a crisp?

Yes, I think there’s something to be said about the violence committed by and against a pre-teen, but it works within the framework of this film’s world. As a parent, I’m not sure I’d let my daughter toss around the “c” word, but Moretz certainly is a charismatic little actress who steals the movie away from both Johnson and Cage.

I’m not sure this story can go any further (the film leaves the door open for a sequel), but I give all parties involved credit for not taking the path of least resistance and doing something daring with the genre.

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~ by Elliott on May 27, 2010.

One Response to “Movie review: Kick-Ass”

  1. I really enjoyed this movie – which feels kind of wrong considering… Like you said, it draws you from the first frame it definitely benefitted from a solid cast. I haven’t believed or liked Nic Cago this much in a movie in a long, long time.

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