Sunday, 20 March 2011

Film Review #24

Kick-Ass (2010)
Director: Matthew Vaughn  Starring: Aaron Johnson, Chloë Moretz, Nicholas Cage, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Lyndsy Fonseca, Clark Duke, Evan Peters, Michael Rispoli

Certificate: 15  Running Time: 117 Minutes

Tagline: "Have fear. They're here"

In all the years there have been superheroes - in comic-books, in films, and wherever else - why has no one ever tried to be one in real life? This is the perfectly plausible question posed by Dave Lizewski (Johnson). By his own admission, he's a completely normal, totally unremarkable teenager - not terribly popular but has a few friends, is ignored by the girl on whom he has a crush, etc. After getting hassled by local hoods for the umpteenth time and seeing others routinely turning a blind eye to such injustices, he decides enough is enough. Despite the somewhat glaring oversight of possessing no superpowers or special abilities of any kind, Dave decides to become a real-life superhero. Well, that's the plan, anyway, but it doesn't take a supergenius to see the flaw in it...

Dave in the middle with Todd (left) and Marty (right)...
Dave buys himself a costume and sets his plan in motion. After witnessing the same hoods trying to break into a car, he intervenes. This first superhero act leaves him beaten, stabbed, and run over which, as it turns out, is a blessing in disguise as his resultant injuries leave him with an increased ability to withstand pain and further injuries. As a result, his next outing as the hero he will soon name 'Kick-Ass' is a little more successful. Not only that but a bystander films him in action and posts the footage on YouTube. Kick-Ass soon finds himself an overnight sensation which brings him to the attention of actual superhero-like vigilante and former cop, Big Daddy (Cage), and his young daugter, Hit-Girl (Moretz), but it also brings him some attention from some less-welcome sources.

Kick-Ass in action (and being filmed)...
Unknown to me until I'd already seen it, this film, featuring comic-book-like heroics in the real world, was actually based on a comic itself, but it's not a traditional Marvel publication. It's extremely violent for one thing. Rather than our heroes dropping off the bad guys at a police station or teaching them the error of their ways, the majority of them are brutally slain here. Indeed, there are few 'moral lessons', either for fictional characters or the reader/viewer. It's very much a comic-book for the modern age and features many jokes, pop-culture references, and nods to existing comic characters. Big Daddy's superhero costume, for example, is a couple of pointy-ears away from Batman's.

Dave gets a visit from Big Daddy and Hit-Girl...
As a film, Kick-Ass is certainly one that's seen its fair share of controversy. Most of that has surrounded the character of Hit Girl, and most of that is down to the fact that the actress portraying her was a mere 11 years old at time of filming. Widely acknowledged as the star of the show, Hit-Girl will also horrify the overly-sensitive Daily Mail-reading types. Much of the death-dealing is done by her and she's a dab hand at it too. She was raised and trained by her father and is more than adept in the use of martial-arts, knives, even guns, and to top it all, she also has a potty-mouth! The mature-beyond-her-years Moretz plays her superbly (and packs a fantastic sneer), but the fact remains, she was only 11 at the time so it can be a little shocking to see her slicing up henchmen, getting beaten up by a grown man, and hear her profanity (she even drops the 'C' bomb)!

'Big Daddy' and 'Hit-Girl' in their workshop...
Cage is good value too as Big Daddy and is probably the closest the film has to a genuine superhero and supervillian combined! He's been training and directing his daughter for years to help him exact revenge on perceived wrong-doings by local crime boss, Frank D'Amico (bad-guy-for-hire, Strong), whose henchmen are often the unfortunate recipients of his and Hit-Girl's unique talents. D'Amico and chief henchman, Big Joe (Rispoli), are initially incredulous at suggestions that bizarre, costumed vigilantes are responsible for their losses, but soon employs the help of his eager son, Chris (Mintz-Plasse), who assumes the role of Red Mist, a Kick-Ass-inspired superhero complete with awesome 'Mist-Mobile'!

Hit-Girl dishes out the hurt...
Dave/Kick-Ass himself, played by English relative newcomer, Aaron Johnson, is great as the world's most ineffective (initially, at least!) superhero. He's a bit geeky, a little sensitive, but genuinely looks like he's got the balls to give it a go, and he really seems to care too. His friends provide good support and Fonseca is decent enough as Dave's crush, Katie. In fact, pretty much everything here is both superb and memorable, and a great achievement for an indie with a comparatively meagre budget. The sets and costumes are fantastic and the combat scenes are superbly filmed but this is Hit-Girl's show from start to finish. You have to keep reminding yourself of her tender age at times as not only are her actions those more befitting a much older character but likewise Moretz's acting is more impressive than many actresses far her senior.

Red Mist tries to make a dramatic entrance...
If any of the 'controversy' surrounding young Hit-Girl or any other other aspect of the film sounds like criticism, it's not - this film is an absolute riot! It's perfectly paced and thoroughly entertaining for every minute of its runtime. It's true that's there's a lot more blood-letting than many films, superhero-based or not, and I personally am usually opposed to needless violence in films, but I've got no complaints here. Kick-Ass has been a completely unexpected but immensely welcome entry in the superhero genre which, let's be honest, was starting to grow a little stagnant, and I'm unusually excited to hear that the sequel has already been green-lit and it looks like all the main players are returning. I for one can't wait!

RKS Score: 9/10


  1. Sold this then regretted selling. As luck would have it, got this again on BD for fiver at Asda! KA just as funny second time around :D

  2. Wow, that's a good price for BD! Does it benefit from the increased definition? I liked this film a lot but I haven't watched the sequel yet, I've not heard good things about it :(