I feel icky just saying it, but I'm in love with an 11-year old. No, not like that, but the very statement overwhelms me with guilt. After all, I shouldn't have feelings for a sociopathic killer who gets excited over some sophisticated switchblade brand. The relationship just wouldn't work. We'd get into a fight and she wouldn't threaten to cut me - she would just do it. I'd sit down to watch some television, knowing that at any given minute she could just erupt and stab me through the back of the skull with a katana sword, staining my nice couch with my valuable brain. She also has daddy issues, too - he likes to shoot people and light them on fire. Still, it's hard not to love Hit Girl, isn't it?
Yes, Kick-Ass is here, and it's been called everything from "wickedly entertaining" to "morally reprehensible." Apparently, some critics don't like it when 11-year olds dressed up as superheroes run around, calling mean thugs the C-word and sending them straight to hell with knives, swords, bullets and yes, even an industrial car compactor. But for the rest of us, Hit Girl, played by Chloe Moretz, makes the uneven but deliciously entertaining movie Kick-Ass well worth it.
Though Hit Girl may be the star of the show, she isn't the lead protagonist. That title belongs to the less-than-kick-ass almost-superhero Kick-Ass, played by Aaron Johnson, who, after getting mugged one too many times decides that it's perfectly acceptable to dress up as a superhero and beat the shit out of a couple criminals. He may not be a skilled crime fighter and he definitely doesn't have any superpowers (other than some nerve damage that allows him to not feel pain), but he's got a MySpace page and a YouTube video to prove just how awesome he is. It's not long before he's attracted the [accidental] attention of a local mob boss (Mark Strong, who was also the villain in Sherlock Holmes), who believes Kick-Ass is responsible for killing his men and stealing his cocaine. In reality, the perpetrators are Hit Girl are her father, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage), who have vowed revenge against the gangster.
The movie, directed and co-written by Layer Cake and Stardust helmer Matthew Vaughn, is a blend of comedy, satire and brutal violence, a no-holds-bar adaptation of the Mark Millar comic book that no average person has ever heard of. The film is profane and bloody, a hard R-rating if there's ever been one. Nothing is sacred, from church language to masturbation, and no one is safe: bad guys are disposed of in a variety of clever ways, almost all of them excruciatingly bloody. In other words, Kick-Ass, despite its many references, is not Spider-Man.
Kick-Ass features a great cast, most notably Moretz, who fully embraces her edgy role as the world's most dangerous 11-year old. She actually only swears two or three times, so it's sort of funny that so many people have complained about her language - especially since she's responsible for killing what seems like 20 men in the film's final minutes. Johnson is also quite good, I'd argue more entertaining and believable than Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker. Christopher Mintz-Plasse, forever to be known as McLovin, is also very good. And for all you Nicolas Cage haters out there, get a load of him here: Cage, for the second movie in a row (the last being Bad Lieutenant), shows that he does have chops as his performance is downright hilarious. Don't worry, we still have The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Season of the Witch to slog through.
Despite a great cast, the movie is at times uneven in its delivery. There are some stretches where Kick-Ass doesn't quite live up to its name, where the movie just isn't very edgy. Whereas a writer such as Quentin Tarantino would have packed every possible second of this film with sharp-tongued dialogue, Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman seem unconcerned about having "normal" moments. There are times where it feels the movie could have been tightened or crafted a little better, and it's these moments that kept me from walking out during the credits saying "wow." But...
When the movie is on, it's on. There are some awkward parts, some slow parts even, but when Kick-Ass is firing on all cylinders, it's really firing on all cylinders. There are some great comedic moments and more than a few perfect lines of dialogue, but what really makes the film is that it takes its action sequences seriously. Kick-Ass boasts a few good sequences, but Vaughn really steps up his game for the climax, which, despite the sudden appearance of a poorly animated jet pack, can only be described as... yes, you guessed it. Pretty cool. Okay, you didn't guess it. Shame on you. Though Kick-Ass is hardly a spoof in the general sense of the word, the action is what truly separates this movie from other comedic superhero attempts from past years.
Kick-Ass is by no means a movie for everyone, but all in all, it is a slick, enjoyable and kick ass movie.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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