Review: ‘Kick-Ass’

Wednesday, April 14 by

Kick-Ass
R, 118m., 2010
Cast: Aaron Johnson, Chloe Mortez, Christopher Mitz-Plasse, Mark Strong, and Nicolas Cage
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Screenplay by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn based upon the Mark Millar comic

Kick-Ass is a bloody, head-on exploration into the overactive mind of the modern teenager.

Based on the graphic novel series by Mark Millar of “Wanted” comic book fame, Kick-Ass tells the story of a typical, bored high-schooler. David Lizewski (played with breezy and natural charisma by newcomer Aaron Johnson), who one day decides to buy a wet suit and become a superhero like all the heroes in his ever growing comic book collection, becomes an internet sensation when defending a lonely junkie from punks. His new alter eg Kick-Ass is immediately born.

Meanwhile a father and daughter duo (played with menacing aw-shuck glee by Nicolas Cage and Chloe Mortez) going by the name of Big Daddy and Hit-Girl are taking down the New York City mob run by Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong in his ever prevalent modern day English villain role) and his wannabe superhero son Chris, a.k.a. Red Mist, (Christopher Mintz-Plasse in signature voice-cracking mode).

What makes the film so accessible to both fan boys and regular moviegoers is the way director Matthew Vaughn handles much of the dark material. The film contains a lot of gun play with kids and moments of brutal torture, but because the film is shot in a lot of bright and clear areas, the New York Cit skyline looks very much like a comic book and the violence moves quick at times. Vaughn and his crew are able to keep it at a fun distance.

Another one of Vaughn’s touches is his use of music. Like his previous film Layer Cake, the blend of modern techno beats, pop music, and classic Ennio Morricone stand-off music amplifies the movie’s characters into their own intro music. Never will you hear Joan Jett and the Black Heart’s “Bad Reputation” the same again after you’ve heard it while little Chloe Mortez takes down a group of goons in pure John Woo fashion.

Mortez as Mindy Macready, a.k.a. Hit-Girl, finds herself in a interesting situation as both character and actress in this film. Here’s the most bad-ass chick we’ve seen on screen all year. Yet, she’s only 11-years-old and finds herself in the battle between liberation and anti-NRA parents, who may faint at the site of a young pistol packing heroine.

Kick-Ass as a comic book film gets the job done well and bloody, putting itself up there with select group of successful comic book movies like Spider-Man 2 and The Dark Knight. The important thing to remember about adapting a successful comic book into a successful movie is simple: always remember the characters first and the action will follow forward as needed.

Kick-Ass knows this very well and gives it to us like a KAPOW! in the kisser.

Grade: B+