Regardless of what I or anyone thinks of the teen superhero action flick Kick-Ass (based on the comic of the same name), one thing is for sure — I’ve never seen anything like it.
It’s so different from any other superhero or teen movie that it doesn’t really deserve to be put into a specific category. It’s funny, insightful, crude, and outrageously violent, to the point where it has caused a lot of controversy amongst conservative groups.
Stuff that and stuff them. Be warned about the film’s content, the over-the-top, brutal violence involving teenagers and pre-teen children, and the nasty language they use. If you don’t like it, fair enough. Don’t watch it. Don’t take your kids to see it. Advise others against it. But please, let less uptight people enjoy it for what it is — an original, strangely poignant action film where the blood and violence is so crazy that it is obviously comical, and disturbing — but in a good way.
The premise of the film is rather straightforward. A typical teenager, Dave Lizewski (played by Aaron Johnson), wonders why ordinary people don’t help others in need, and why there aren’t any “real” superheroes out there. So he takes matters into his own hands and becomes Kick-Ass, a masked vigilante who gets more than he bargained for when he stumbles across truly dangerous criminals (led by Mark Strong) and “true” superheroes (played by Nicholas Cage and Chloe Grace Moretz).
If you think Kick-Ass is a cookie-cutter superhero parody, you’re in for a nasty surprise. From the very first scenes where Dave gives us an insight into his life, and the introduction of Cage’s “Big Daddy” and Moretz’s “Hit Girl”, I could tell the film was going to be a lot darker and much more uncomfortable than your ordinary superhero flick. You just don’t normally see films like this tackle the type of issues and subjects that Kick-Ass does, you just don’t see 11-year old girls use those sorts of words (!), and you certainly don’t see them slicing people up and shooting them in the head. But these are the things that keep Kick-Ass fresh and compelling to watch.
Like all superhero movies, Kick-Ass requires suspension of disbelief, but director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust) makes the world in which the characters inhabit about as believable as it could be.
However, Kick-Ass is far from perfect. The tone was very uneven — the mix of regular teen comedy jokes and extremely dark, unsettling violent comedy, plus actual serious plot/character development scenes made it a difficult ride on the emotional roller coaster. Further, at 117-minutes, the film was and felt too long. And while I liked Dave’s friends, the whole love interest subplot was lost on me. Not enough attention was given to it (in my opinion) to make it work.
Having said that, I have little doubt Kick-Ass will go down as a cult classic. Moretz’s “Hit Girl”, of course, steals the show, even though Aaron Johnson manages to portray Kick-Ass as a highly likable protagonist. The truth is, the action scenes in Kick-Ass are simply phenomenal, better than most “pure” action films out there today. It’s heavily influenced by John Woo’s films (especially the earlier flicks), and the film itself recognises this. And I loved the tributes to classics I won’t spoil by mentioning.
Yes, Kick-Ass is confronting and unsettling and controversial. But don’t we want more films like that?
4 out of 5 stars!