Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Kick Ass

KICK ASS (2010)

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Screenplay: Matthew Vaughn & Jane Goldman
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong & Nicholas Cage

Does Kick Ass live up to the hype?


Pretty much earning cult status before it was even released, Kick Ass the, (sort of) anti-superhero movie, has been causing bloggers to buzz and fan boys to go into fits of analytical delirium since the Comic Con footage released last year and then those strategically released red-band trailers. Could this film really be the coolest, funniest, foul mouthed, violent, day-glow comic book film we were all hoping for? Yeah, it certainly is. And then some.

Adapted from Mark Millar’s and John Romita Jr's violent comic book of the same name, Kick Ass is about a guy who one day, despite having no super powers or any noticeable skills, decides to become a superhero and help clean up his neighbourhood. So, one slightly modified scuba suit and a pair of fighting baton’s later, Dave Lizewski (Johnson) transforms himself into Kick Ass. Possessing not much more than an over enthusiastic need to help others; Kick Ass becomes a sensation despite actually not being very good at fighting, rescuing or stopping himself from experiencing extreme body trauma. However, local crime boss Frank D’Amico (Strong) isn’t happy believing Kick Ass is behind the killing of many of his men. When in fact it’s father/daughter team Big Daddy and Hit Girl (Cage and Moretz), a couple of real crime fighting superheroes, who see potential in Kick Ass and want him to help them take down D’Amico.

Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust) manages to weave the cool and funny with the dark and serious and make Kick Ass a gentle piss take (albeit a very foul mouthed and violent one) of the superhero genre but also an almost pitch perfect superhero movie in its own right. Written and made by fans of the genre, the makers eschew po-faced seriousness and send up all that is ridiculous about superhero movies: the costumes, the fact that if anyone did become one, they’d be seriously hurt or dead inside of a day. But Kick Ass takes everything that is great about superhero films, embraces them and spins them into a wild whirlwind of ultra violence, abrasive language and 11 year old girls who can quite literally kick the ass of anyone.

But what is so great about Kick Ass, is that it isn’t just being “cool” for the sake of being “cool.” This isn’t a film that is showing off how cool it is for being violent, sweary and a slight send up of a genre. It uses these mechanisms to set a different kind of tone, a tone that fits the film well and that makes it the hoot it is. The comedy is rude and adult but often the simpler scenes of comedy are the most effective (Kick Ass and Red Mist dancing in their souped car while driving on the way to fight crime: one the funniest things this reviewer has seen in a while!) and the entire cast are game throughout. Good to see Nicholas Cage back on his game, actually being rather quietly effective and comedic (rather than out and out “mad”) as Big Daddy. Everything you’ve heard about little Chloe Moretz as the potty mouthed hit girl is right: a little whirling, twirling, and blade wielding dynamo with a choice in language that would make most sailors blush. But it’s Aaron Johnson who really kicks ass. An amazingly committed performance, he perfectly embodies a young boy who simply has a near unbreakable shield of optimism and a huge capacity for taking a beating time after time.

And the action? Yeah, it also, ahem, kicks ass. Shot, cut and staged with clarity and momentum Vaughn crafts exhilarating set pieces that play to the rough and ready nature of people who really don’t how to fight (Kick Ass fighting some goons outside a diner) but which thrill and excite at the same time (Hit Girl’s one woman assault on a shit ton of bad guys). There is one sequence towards the end that perfectly welds action, emotion, violence, music and intensity together which takes Kick Ass to a new level and shows this really is a superhero film that can run with the big dogs. In fact, the most surprising element of Kick Ass is the serious turn it takes in the final act. The comedy still flows but the characters we have invested in are put in danger and proceedings take a more serious turn. It works perfectly and shows Vaughn’s skill at handling the material.

Really not much more to say. Just see it and make up your mind. If you don’t like it, fine but if you don’t go and see it….then I’ll kick your ass…

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