Kick-Ass reviewed

Based on the relatively new comic book series by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr, Kick-Ass certainly won’t be for everyone. However, if you love masked heroes and adore Kill Bill Vol.1 for its cynical sense of humour and stylish violence, then it is pretty much guaranteed that you will get a kick out of Kick-Ass. Apart from being the coolest film of the year so far, by far, Kick-Ass is also one of 2010’s best releases.

Directed and scripted by Layer Cake and Stardust’s Matthew Vaughn, Kick-Ass’s premise is pretty simple. Having been mugged one too many times, unremarkable teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) decides to become Kick-Ass, a real life superhero – or, rather, a masked do-gooder seeing as Dave has no special abilities or combat training. Things don’t go especially well for Dave but when Kick-Ass’s exploits are captured on mobile phone and posted on YouTube, a superhero phenomenon is triggered. Not only does Dave have to hide his secret identity but he also has to contend with the far more deadly, and definitely unhinged, vigilante duo of Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and 11 year old Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz), who are aggravating crime boss Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong) to the detriment of all costumed heroes.

Kick-Ass is entertaining from the get-go, with Johnson highly likeable as dorky Dave, who is trying to navigate the complexities of contemporary high school and hormonal teenage life. It’s worth pointing out at this point that the first person narration provided in Kick-Ass by Dave is far more enjoyable and self deprecating than that in Millar’s other comic-to-film adaptation, the much more aggressive and mean spirited Wanted. It also helps that the interactions between Dave and his two friends ring true. As a result, the audience really feels for Dave as he continually finds himself in over his head, despite his best intentions. Emotionally invested, viewers then wince and squirm (appreciatively) in their seats as graphic violence is unleashed onscreen.

Make no mistake about it – Kick-Ass doesn’t pull any punches. This can explain why the film has provoked controversy for its depiction of teens and children dishing out and being at the receiving end of some seriously bloody beatings. Like Kill Bill Vol.1, the violence in Kick-Ass is pushed to a stylised extreme, while the humour is unapologetically pitch black. If you laugh at the thought of a father repeatedly shooting his armour-wearing daughter to toughen her up (while simultaneously promising her butterfly knives for her birthday), then this is the movie for you.

Of course, it’s worth mentioning that Kick-Ass is also packed with plenty of visual in-jokes for comic lovers, and features a fantastic soundtrack that really complements the action onscreen.

All this praise aside, Kick-Ass isn’t perfect. The film begins to lose its comedic momentum about two-thirds of the way through, especially once Hit Girl and Big Daddy’s sobering backstory is prioritised at the expense of Dave’s horribly misguided but highly amusing adventures. And, unfortunately, right at the end of the film, Kick-Ass finally loses grip on ‘reality’ to stumble into ridiculous territory. Without giving too much away, the climatic scenes are just too jarringly absurd given the basic credibility that has governed proceedings in the film up until this point. It becomes difficult for the viewer to suspend their disbelief and happily embrace the nonsense onscreen – which does spoil things somewhat.

Still though, with a sadistic sense of humour, intricately choreographed fight sequences, and solid performances all around (yes, even from Cage, who is in full blown weirdo mode here), Kick-Ass is that rarest of things: a highly entertaining superhero film for adults that isn’t reliant on iconic comic characters as a selling point. For fans of the genre, and anyone who enjoys stylised comedic action films, Kick-Ass is definitely re-watchable and a worthy future addition to your DVD collection.


Dante said…
I have to add this, Wanted the movie had almost nothing to do with Wanted the comic book. Except for the fact that they say it is an adaption. Sin City, now that is an adaption!

All i have heard from this movie is what you have told me and your tweets. So definitely interested. But i haven't seen a poster or nothing. Think I should look harder. Going to sterkinekor tonight so maybe they have some info.
MJenks said…
I'm amused by the controversy surrounding teenagers swearing, especially saying "cunt". Because, as we all know, no one says "fuck" or "cunt" until they're 18.

Nicholas Cage's comments on it have been the most sickeningly amusing. He was uncomfortable with the girl saying it and the language from the kids throughout the movie, but that sure didn't stop him from collecting a paycheck, did it?

I want to see this. It might be a middle-of-the-week-go-by-myself excursion, though.
Pfangirl said…
Dante, go and watch Kick-Ass. Seriously, it's my best movie of 2010 so far... of course, I don't know what that says about me?;)

MJenks, the controversy is so overblown. I think Hit-Girl uses "cunt" once. The way people were going on about it, you'd think that was all the character said. As for Nic Cage I'm still not a huge fan but at least he's a complete freak/oddball in Kick-Ass, which helps redeem him a bit in my eyes.

Anyway, this is one to check out, but yeah, it may be a solo outing given its geekiness, pitch black sense of humour and ultra-violence.

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