Kick-Ass (2010)

Film review: Kick-Ass (2010), directed by Matthew Vaughn

kick-assWhat do you get if you mix Nicolas Cage, a ten-year-old psychopath, a comic book nerd who wants to be a superhero and a mob boss? The movie Kick-Ass. I was expecting something along the lines of Dude, Where’s My Car? and got… something else. Something that was surprising and actually rather better than I thought it would be.

The story centres around a high school guy called Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson – who is British, apparently! O.O). He’s a regular nobody in school, whose “only superpowers is to be invisible to girls”. At home, he enjoys comic books, his computer and fantasizing about his English teacher’s cleavage, and goes through a lot of paper towels… like boys of that age tend to do.

After getting mugged for the umpteenth time, he wonders why there are so many comic book fans out there, but none of them seem to have thought of the idea to become a superhero themselves. His friends point out that well, it’s not like superpowers grow on trees in real life, but Dave counters with the fact that Batman doesn’t have superpowers either. He does, however, have a sizeable fortune, which Dave of course doesn’t. Not that he lets that stop him.

Having bought his hero outfit (a green wetsuit) online, he starts stalking the streets looking for crime to fight, setting up a superhero MySpace page (wow, people still use that?), and his first attempt at heroism lands him straight in hospital. However, superheroes don’t quit after falling at the first hurdle! No, he gets straight back in the saddle… and gets into a proper fight, which gets filmed and ends up on YouTube. The video goes viral and he’s on the news, he’s everyone’s hero all of a sudden.

Meanwhile, the mob are getting the crap kicked out of them by a masked avenger. They figure it’s that crazy person in the green wetsuit… a superhero wannabe who calls himself “Kick-Ass”… or is it? Kick-Ass soon finds out he’s in way over his head…

The masked avenger is a man who calls himself Big Daddy, and is played by Nicolas Cage. The man’s a self-confessed comic book nerd in real life, naming his son Kal-El and all (Superman’s real name), and his introduction in the movie is… surprising, to say the least. Picture a man and a ten-year-old, sweet-looking girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) chatting in a “you know I have to do this” type way, and then he pulls a gun – and shoots her right in the chest!

We quickly learn that this isn’t your usual father-daughter relationship. She’s wearing a bullet-proof vest and enjoys playing with knives. And if anyone kicks ass, it’s her. Those two are proper superheroes. With guns. And a bazooka.

Mark Strong plays the baddie, a mob boss. I kept thinking of how far from Mr Knightley he was… And I missed his dark Knightley-hair as well. Not to mention the cravats. Yes, gangsters are definitely lacking in the cravat department!

The baddie has a son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) as well, donning a mask and cape as superhero Red Mist in order to get to Kick-Ass – and as he realises Kick-Ass is just a regular comic book nerd like himself, to get to Hit Girl and Big Daddy. With how the movie ended, I’m guessing Red Mist is going to be a supervillain and probably be Kick-Ass’s nemesis in the sequel, which has been announced and is set to be released in 2012.

I was expecting a rather braindead comedy but it’s surprisingly clever and puts a new spin on the comic book superhero genre. Saw the Kick-Ass comic in our local gaming store yesterday as well.

I never really read a lot of comics as a child, except for Bamse (granny used to have a plastic bag full of old comics of the adventures of the world’s strongest bear), Tintin, Asterix and Lucky Luke, and the occasional Donald Duck thing. Oh, and the time I subscribed to W.I.T.C.H., even though I was about 19 at the time and not… 12.

What I mean is, Spiderman, Superman and Batman are film and TV characters to me rather than comics. Because I’ve grown up with Tintin and Asterix, it makes it difficult to watch them as movies, because they’re comic books to me. (Steven Spielberg’s making a Tintin movie, by the way, in case you haven’t heard. It’s out next year, starring Jamie “St John Rivers ’11” Bell as the young reporter.)

Some people might think that because it’s a movie about comic book superheroes, it’ll be like the Superman or Spiderman or X-Men franchises, i.e. mostly harmless and good fun for the kids. Those people haven’t seen films like Sin City, The Spirit or Watchmen. Or 300 for that matter.

While this is a comedy and a superhero movie, it’s not for the kids. It gets rather gruesome (although not to the point of the movies just mentioned, because woah, they’re excessive!) and the language is not for the faint-hearted. In fact, I’m not sure Mindy – Hit Girl – would be allowed to watch the film in the cinema! And she uses the F word. A number of times.

Don’t expect the movie to be much of an intellectual challenge – even though it’s different from what I expected, at the same time, it is “just” a comedy. It’s good entertainment, especially if you like superheroes. 🙂

P.S. Kick-Ass also stars Elizabeth McGovern, who would later become the Lady of Downton Abbey!

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