Review by Jack Foley
MATTHEW Vaughn’s Kick-Ass is one of the most daring, violent and morally dubious comic book adaptations for some time. It’s also one of the films of the year!
A witty adrenaline rush of gargantuan proportions, it tears into the comic book genre and redefines its boundaries much in the same way that Christopher Nolan did with The Dark Knight.
And yet it’s sure to draw fire from the Daily Mail brigade, who will almost certainly object to the excessive profanity, hard-hitting violence and over stylised use of teenage children in sexy and/or violent situations.
We’d counter that the adults should be allowed to have some fun sometimes… as Vaughn’s movie isn’t seeking to appeal to Batman’s 12A demographic and probably only just missed an 18.
The story focuses on teenage geek Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) as he decides to turn himself into a costumed vigilante superhero, a la Batman, without having any super powers.
His decision comes at plenty of physical cost but quickly turns him into an Internet phenomenon… until the town’s Mafia bos Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) decides to teach him a painful lesson.
But just when the self-professed Kick-Ass looks set to get his ass kicked, help arrives in the form of Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and his teenage daughter Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz), who seem to be much better at dealing with the crime-fighting than Dave could ever hope to be.
Together, they provide a formidable opponent to D’Amico as well as an inspiration to the countless community members who have been following their exploits.
Having impressed with his debut solo movies Layer Cake and Stardust, former Guy Ritchie partner Vaughn really throws off the shackles with Kick-Ass to deliver an OTT thrill-ride of effortlessly cool proportions.
And by working outside of the studio system to do it, he ensures that its comic novel values aren’t compromised. As a result, everyone is on their game and nothing feels tailored towards studios or marketing tie-ins.
Rather, this is a crowd-pleasing romp of a film that succeeds in creating a unique universe for its characters to exist in, where violence hurts but remains cool, and where the youngsters are the most dangerous kids in town.
Johnson turns nerdiness into something approaching teen cool and seems more at ease with an American accent than he is with his own English one at times, while Cage is back to career-best form as Big-Daddy (especially when channelling the spirit of Adam West).
But while everyone excels – including Strong’s no-nonsense villain and Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Red Mist – it’s Moretz’s film to walk away with… and boy does she.
Despite an initially innocent, youthful appearance, her Hit-Girl is the movie’s genuine kick-ass character and when she’s let off the leash for the film’s latter stages she sets about the bad guys with relish.
And yet she also poses the film’s biggest moral issue… emerging as the youngest of the teenage assassins, posing in school-girls’ uniforms and regularly demonstrating the art of the butterfly knife to send mild-mannered parents and the easily offended into raptures of complaint.
Listen not, we tell you, and just go with it. Vaughn’s movie isn’t pretending to offer hard-hitting social commentary, just an edgy good time. So, if you go in with the right attitude, you’re sure to be rewarded.
From a director’s point of view, too, Kick-Ass delivers maximum thrills, combining elements of Korean martial arts movies and John Woo with nods to Sergio Leone and Ritchie’s flamboyant style.
It’s also loaded with a seriously cool soundtrack and plenty of glib pop culture references to emerge as a film of its time that will also remain timeless. Come the final credits, you’ll be rushing to see it all over again!
Running time: 117mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: September 6, 2010
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Mark Millar interview
- Tarquin Pack interview
- Kick-Ass Character Poster Gallery
- Kick-Ass soundtrack reviewed