Film Review by Kam Williams
Headline: Pint-Sized Vigilantes Fight Crime in Superhero Adventure
A big brouhaha has been brewing about this Marvel Comics superhero adventure because it revolves around a foul-mouthed, 11 year-old heroine who takes delight in spilling the blood of every last one of her evil adversaries. Furthermore, other underage characters are depicted engaging in a variety of morally-objectionable activities ranging from premarital sex to smoking Marijuana to sadistic slaughter.
In this critic’s opinion, Kick-Ass’ detractors have unfairly been questioning the wisdom of a female empowerment flick’s featuring such a flawed figure as a role model. After all, they’re conveniently forgetting the fact that the movie is rated R, a clear signal that the subject-matter might not exactly be appropriate for impressionable young minds. So, although most of the picture’s protagonists are minors, this is very much adult entertainment. And that controversy notwithstanding, Kick Ass just happens to be the best comic book-to-screen adaptation since The Dark Knight.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn, the film is remarkably faithful to its relentlessly-graphic source material as co-created by writer Mark Millar and illustrator John Romita, Jr. Set in New York City, it stars Aaron Jonson as unassuming Dave Lizewski, a nerdy teenager whose only special power at the point of departure is being invisible to girls, especially Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca), the cute classmate he has a secret crush on.
This low social standing explains why Dave starts fantasizing about morphing into a crime-fighting alter-ego like the superheroes in his comic book collection. Then, after being mugged for his lunch money by some bullies in front of bystanders who did nothing, he decides it’s time for somebody to stand up for the neighborhood. Next, fashioning a crude costume out of a scuba diving outfit he buys on eBay, he starts roaming the streets as Kick-Ass.
Although he almost dies during his first confrontation with bad guys, the masked vigilante eventually develops some decent fighting skills, and becomes an internet sensation when his subsequent successful exploits are posted on Youtube. That popularity, in turn, inspires a number of others to follow suit, including Damon and Mindy MacReady, a father-daughter team who don masks and costumes as Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage).
Hit-Girl is only 11, yet remains perfectly poised disemboweling bandits, having been weaned on an array of deadly weapons by her gun-collecting dad, a disgraced ex-cop with a score to settle with drug kingpin Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong). D’Amico has no idea that his 17 year-old son, Chris, aka Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Passe), has joined forces with the cadre of Kick-Ass imitators he and his army of goons are headed to a big showdown with.
Fair warning: Between the wanton bloodletting and the incessantly-salty dialogue Kick-Ass is admittedly jaw-dropping, especially since kids are responsible for most of the splatterfest’s chatter and mayhem. That being said, this alternately shocking and comical cross of Death Wish and The Little Rascals is a bona fide blockbuster not to be missed by mature audiences.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for pervasive profanity and graphic violence, nudity, sexuality and drug use by children.
Running time: 118 Minutes
Studio: Lionsgate Films