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Kick-Ass (Review)

Kick-Ass (Review)

gratuitously entertaining
Mar 20, 2010
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Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy Release Date: 16/04/2010 Runtime: 117 minutes Country: UK, USA


Director:   Writer(s): 
Jane Goldman

Matthew Vaughn

Mark Millar

John Romita Jr.

Cast: , , , , , ,
Kick-Ass (Review), reviewed by Anders Wotzke on 2010-03-20T12:19:30+00:00 rating 4.5 out of5

All that hard work Christopher Nolan put into making the superhero genre serious again with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight is given a swift boot from behind in Kick-Ass. This ballsy genre hybrid from director Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Layer Cake) does for comic book adaptations what last year’s Zombieland did for horror: it pays homage to the genre by fondly lampooning it, not critiquing it (ala Watchmen), similarly going overboard on the violence and profanity. It’s destined to explode at the box office, probably going down in the history books as a culture-defining movie, as it’s exactly the kind of thing the Facebook and Youtube generation of today will Re-Tweet by the masses.

Parents, however, should be warned: Kick-Ass will offend. It goes to extreme lengths to. Yet it also goes to extreme lengths to entertain, which it does in spades. In fact, Kick-Ass is easily the most fun I’ve had at the cinema so far this year. Considering it features a cute 12-year-old girl who drops the C-bomb before ferociously hacking and slashing her way through a dozen bad guys, I feel a little uncomfortable admitting that.

Despite the fact that she’s the one doing most of the ass kicking, Hit Girl, as she is known when in kill-mode, is not the protagonist here. Instead, the story centers on comic-book geek Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson). Sick of drifting by unnoticed — especially in the eyes of his high school crush Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca) – Dave decides it’s time to become something that’ll make him stand out from the crowd; a superhero. Wearing a modified Wetsuit, Dave’s superhero persona Kick-Ass becomes an overnight sensation after his crime-fighting escapades are caught on video and uploaded on YouTube. But without any superpowers or fighting ability, he quickly finds himself in way over his head when kingpin Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) puts a hit out on Kick-Ass, believing him to be responsible for disrupting his operations.  The real perpetrators, however, are the far more competent masked vigilantes Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz), a brutal father/daughter team who will mercilessly shoot-up a room before getting ice-cream.

There’s nothing particularly extraordinary about the direction the narrative takes – it’s essentially just a retelling of Spider-Man with a few quirks — but that doesn’t change the fact that Kick-Ass is unlike any superhero movie I’ve ever seen. It’s the film’s attitude that feels so radically different; on one hand, it’s totally aware of how ridiculous the concept of lycra-wearing superhero is, but on the other, it genuinely explores the notion of an individual taking the law into their own hands. While much of the violence in Kick-Ass is blatantly gratuitous, playing up on the preconception that media-projected violence is harming today’s youth,  it’s not without consequence; we are constantly reminded of Dave’s mortality, as his every knock and blow – to which there are many — is wincingly felt by the audience.

Tonally, this leaves Kick-Ass in state of constant change, which could have resulted in a serious mess of a movie if it weren’t for Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn’s stellar screenplay, an Oscar worthy adaptation of the ongoing comic book series by Mark Millar. They’ve crafted a two hour roller coaster ride that’s paced to perfection; one minute you’ll be laughing aloud at the relentlessly witty dialogue, the next you’ll be perched on the edge of your seat during one of the many dazzling action sequences and then you’ll be bought back down to Earth by a genuinely heartrending moment. The film is so ferociously engaging, it’s exhausting.

kick ass141 600x250 Kick Ass (Review)

Nicholas Cage as Big Daddy

Anyone who saw Aaron Johnson star as John Lennon in Nowhere Boy will barely recognise him here as Davide Lizewski, going from handsome British rocker to American über-geek. He pulls it off convincingly, proving to be far more natural in the role than Tobey Maguire was as Peter Parker in Spider-Man, a character with obvious parallels. Everyone in support is just as strong: Christopher “McLovin” Mintz-Plass (Superbad, Year One) is hilarious as Red Mist, Kick-Ass’ devious competitor; Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes, The Young Victoria) is suitably menacing as his father Frank D’Amico, a blatant comic-book baddie and Chloe Moretz (soon to star in the US remake of Let the Right One In) sets the screen ablaze as Hit Girl, a character destined to be one of the most popular superheroes never to be featured in a McDonalds Happy Meal. Even Nicholas Cage earns solid laughs as Big Daddy, a Batman rip-off who goes as far as to speak with the iconic Adam West stammer.  Having spent the last decade being miscast in an excess of staid films, Cage is far better suited to the lighter, satirical roles such as this.

While the action is immaculately staged, choreographed, edited and shot, some of the visual effects are noticeably low budget. It’s one of few reminders that this is, in many ways, an independent movie, originally rejected by all major studios before being funded out of pocket by Vaughn and a handful of producers (including Brad Pitt).  When this film turns out to be one of the biggest and best of 2010, those studio execs will be kicking nothing but their own asses.



Kick-Ass is what Spider-Man would have looked like  if it was directed by  Quentin Tarantino using the cast of Spy Kids. In other words, pure awesome.

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