D: Matthew Vaughn. DP: Ben Davis. W: Vaughn & Jane Goldman. Starring: Aaron Johnson/Chloe Moretz/Nicholas Cage/Mark Strong/Christopher Mintz-Plasse/Lyndsy Fonseca/Evan Peters/Clark Duke. (NOTE: Based on the comic book by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.)
Well, kids, if you were waiting for that crazy, loud, well, kick-ass movie to come out this year. It just did.
Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass, the newest installment of comic book adaptations, gives audiences heaps of laughs, tons of violence, and a fantastic sense of the realistic turned into reality. The film ultimately centers on Dave (Johnson) a high school student who merely ‘exists’ until he orders a scuba suit online and attempts to become a superhero. Flanked by comic loving buddies and the hot girl who thinks he’s gay, Johnson’s Dave begins his quest into the realities of violence, social symbolism, and those gray areas between good and evil. But with a superhero name like Kick-Ass, this comic book invention is clearly a different kid of superhero, and surprisingly a different kind of film.
Thankfully, Vaughn embraces all that is loud, exhausting, and truly scary about both adolescence and caped crusader adventures. Johnson’s Dave does remarkably well here as he maintains a sense of surprise at his own innocence yet never loses his resolution. The only grievance is that Johnson seems to heal too fast from all his episodes of, well, getting beat up and asks too few questions in the latter half of the film. But, nonetheless, Johnson holds up Kick-Ass and never allows his superhero alter ego to waiver from his intentions.
On his journey Dave meets other super heroes, and these others don’t save lives in the dark of the night. Rather, they shoot, stab or kill people in the name of vengeance. Nicholas Cage plays Damon Macready, a serpentine father who is avenging his past through his work as Big Daddy. Big Daddy’s accomplice is his 11 or 12 year old (it is never specified though Moretz is 13) daughter Mindy played by Chloe Moretz, but better known in the film as Hit Girl. Cage is creepy, but delightfully weird as Big Daddy and does well to ground his relationship with Moretz. The use and knowledge of violence and weaponry with Moretz is the most surprising element of Kick-Ass. In a comic book it might not come off as disturbing as it does on screen, but thankfully Vaughn never really questions their relationship. Instead the violence in Moretz’s life is abnormal, but understandable, allowing Moretz’s Mindy to be as memorable as her purple hair and mini skirt suggests she will be.
Moretz’s clout is supported by the high energy editing and fast paced rhythm of Kick-Ass. Yes, you might break out in a sweat. The only times the film slows down is when bad dirty daddy Frank D’Amico (Strong, who is everywhere these days) dictates to his dudes and argues with son Chris (Mintz-Plasse). Mintz Plasse’s Chris’ eventual Red Mist persona garners a few laughs as he can expensively sport all the gimmicks of other superheroes. But mostly the kid still belongs in Superbad, sad, but still very true.
But what is truly great and entertaining about Kick-Ass is its solid grounding in reality. The comic book look or style doesn’t override the film, and the reality element can work here as the story revolves around the fashioning of these heroes in society. Also, the Kick-Ass‘ blatant and unpolished use of violence speaks more to its comic book roots than other films have in the past. Begging questions about the presence of violence in modern society, the use of violence to quell violence, and the modern image of the hero. Is Kick-Ass the new type of hero people need? A faceless and nameless warrior of peace? Or is there not a real answer or solution to the street deaths in this country? Maybe all the secrets are in the comic books…