Plot: Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a nerd whose only real passion is comic books. Wondering why no ordinary person has ever tried to become a super hero, Dave takes on the mantle of “Kick-Ass,” whose only power is taking a beating. Despite getting his ass kicked, he gains a YouTube following, meets some real bad ass vigilantes, and becomes the target of a mob kingpin.
Kick-Ass is really…no, I won’t use that joke. But I will tell you that Kick-Ass is a damn good movie. First and foremost, this is a comedy, but it has the right blend of super hero elements to make it a real compelling movie rather than just a simple parody. It has a very interesting structure. The first act is a comedy. The second act is a mix between comedy/action. And the last third is pure action and violence.
What makes Kick-Ass so interesting is that it begins as a run of the mill teenage comedy. Dave is a geek who fantasizes about sleeping with his teacher and he hangs out at comic book stores with his two nerdy friends. He endures the normal OMFG problems that only occur in high school. The dialogue is snappy and funny, and the characters likable. The comic book elements come into play early, but they are all subtle knocks at the genre. They work well together. It’s not until Dave puts on the Kick-Ass garb though that the movie starts to get real good. Because they set it up as a typical high school movie where Dave is a typical high school kid, it makes you really fear for his life when he goes out to fight crime. The second half really is a different film, which works for it and against it.
Kick-Ass eventually moves towards a more traditional super hero tale. The film loses its original focus and gets especially whacky and over the top towards the end. They also gloss over some pretty serious moral dilemmas. A lot of bad stuff happens as a result of this guy becoming Kick-Ass that they don’t dwell on or explore. But I understand the director (Matthew Vaughn) wanted to keep it lighthearted, and the stuff in here is just too damn good, so I have to let it slide.
The real heart of the movie though is the colorful characters. The actors bring their A-game. Nicolas Cage was my favorite part, playing Damon Macready, also known as the vigilante Big Daddy. What the director does brilliantly here is that you don’t see very much of Big Daddy fighting, but when you do, it’s a spectacle! He really makes you salivate and want more. I would also be remised if I didn’t mention his daughter Mindy Macready (alter-ego Hit Girl). She is played brilliantly by Chloe Grace Moretz. Not only does she take out a gazillion mob guys in the span of 2 seconds, but Moretz plays the character to perfection in and out of the costume with a maturity level beyond her years. She is probably the most fascinating character.
Speaking of mob guys, Mark Strong plays the main baddie Frank D’Amico. Now this easily could have been just another cliché and interchangeable Mob Boss, but it’s not. There is enough flavor and spunk to this guy that I actually got invested in his character. He is very much written like a generic crime boss, but there is something about Strong’s performance that keeps him fresh. To be able to play such a tired role and keep it interesting gives Strong an A+ acting job in my book.
If you like super heroes and comics, you will love this movie. There is a lot of violence, but it’s not ridiculous with blood splashing all over the screen. It’s a great dose of both bad ass and comedic action. That’s the biggest strength of this film; it mixes genres successfully. Along with a great score and a very memorable final line, Kick-Ass is really…you know.
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Great)