Movie review by Neil Sadler
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Aaron Johnson, Chloë Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Two word review: Kicks Ass
I should start this review proper by confessing I am a comic-book geek and that I know Mark Millar’s work on this comic and many others. When the comic came out it was a refreshing re-invention of the comic heroes in the real world – as has been done before – WATCHMEN being another fine example.
However where as WATCHMEN is a serious and scary examination of power and responsibility and how we use power to corrupt not only ourselves but others, KICK- ASS, the comic and the film are best summed up by the line “With no power comes no responsibility” a great reversal of the key theme of many superheroes, most obviously Spiderman.
The film is a triumph on almost every level. Using the comic as its starting point, Matthew Vaughan and Jane Goldman have taken John Romita Jr’s bold colourful style and Millar’s natural, simple dialogue and ultra violent story and made it truly modern and more importantly filmic.
Just like in Vaughan and Goldman’s previous film, STARDUST, they manage to make us believe in the fantastical elements of the story but more importantly root for the lead character even when he does incredibly stupid things.
Aaron Johnson is Dave Lizewski, a comic book fan who decides to make a costume and fight crime as the hero, Kick-Ass. In the age of Youtube and Twitter he becomes a phenomenon but this brings him onto the radar of real life villain, Frank D’Amico as well as real life “heroes” Big Daddy and Hit Girl.
This film works because it pulls no punches and yet also manages to cater to the wish fulfilment fantasies that make the Superhero genre such a success. Extremely rude and violent, but with its tongue (or gun) planted in its cheek, it manages to be funny, exciting and even moving in places throughout its entirety.
Peppered with Vaughan/Richie Brit actors – most of whom seem to meet rather gruesome deaths, there is a danger this could all be a bit of a Vaughan chumfest. Mark Strong seems to pop up as a villain in almost everything at the moment, SHERLOCK HOLMES and ROBIN HOOD to name a couple very recently but when he is this good, who cares. Villainous but still real, he is an apt bad guy in a genre where if the villain isn’t bad enough and their comeuppance not gruesome enough, the audience can feel cheated. No such error here. He is mean, self-important and cruel gangster but more importantly he goes out with a suitable bang.
Nicolas Cage as Big Daddy – an amalgam of Batman and The Punisher gives the best performance I have seen from him since ADAPTATION. The annoying thing about Nicolas Cage is you know he can act but too often he feels like he can’t be bothered. KICK-ASS nearly (but not quite) erases the bad taste of GHOST RIDER from a comic-fan’s mouth.
The best performance for me though is Chloe Moretz as Mindy/Hit Girl. She was 12 when she filmed this and not only does she beat up almost every goon on screen, she acts most of them off it as well. This all bodes very well for the remake of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN in which she stars.
With a sequel – KICK-ASS 2:BALLS TO THE WALL – already greenlit, the studio is obviously pleased with what they got but with such joyous characters and great script and acting, they should be.