Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas
Occasionally, the Forest Gump-ism can apply to movies…they’re like a box of chocolates and you never know what you’re gonna get. Such is the case with Kick-Ass. If you go by the poster art or theatre trailer, they may give the impression that it’s (a) a teenage movie, (b) a superhero movie, and (c) a kid’s movie. Well, yes and no. The cast is mostly comprised of young actors playing high-school based roles. The story is about a socially invisible guy who decides to become a superhero, even though he has no powers, because it seems like the right thing to do. However, despite the presence of a precociously lethal 11-year-old girl, this is not a film for kids or families under any circumstances.
Kick-Ass is the third film from British director Matthew Vaughn. His previous outings were the crime thriller Layer Cake with Daniel Craig, and the fantasy epic Stardust. Aaron Johnson plays Dave Liszewski, a hapless high schooler who dons a wet suit with a mask to become his new alter ego. In his inept efforts at fighting crime and righting wrongs, Dave crosses paths with two real crime-fighters: Big Daddy and Hit Girl. Big Daddy is a tormented ex-cop who is out for revenge. In this role, Nicolas Cage hits all the right notes in one of his best performances since Leaving Las Vegas. Hit Girl is his eleven-year-old daughter, a pint-sized Terminator whose martial arts prowess and ease of handling knives and firearms will leave you stunned. Hit Girl is thirteen-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz, who’s been acting since she was seven, with over thirty credits on her resume. She is a bright and engaging screen persona in what will have to be her star-making role.
Also noteworthy is Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the son of a vicious gangster. His Ferris Bueller-ish image belies the fact that he really wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and carry on the family business.
For me, Kick-Ass played out in four acts. The first half-hour seemed a tad draggy. But in the second half-hour, once the dots were starting to connect and characters meshed with the story, interest peaked. In the third half-hour, all throttles were opened and the film revved up to some intense action. And the fourth half-hour was, literally, Kick-Ass, with the unleashing of a torrent of movie violence that equals anything put on the screen by Quentin Tarantino or John Woo.
To some, that may be reason enough NOT to see this film. If you’re the least bit squeamish, stay away. However, if you are inured to nihilistic visions of gun battles, fistfights, swordplay, and all manner of foul deeds, then Kick-Ass may be one of your more exhilarating cinematic experiences of recent months.
Much has been made of film critic Roger Ebert’s pronouncement that the film is “morally reprehensible,” and to many, that may be true. But for movie buffs, film geeks, action fans, or anyone who can appreciate movie making on a more visceral level, Kick-Ass is, as they say, “only a movie.” It’s funny, violent, profane, sad, touching, and troubling… but still only a movie. And one that is quite a thrill ride, which in true superhero fashion, has been left wide-open for the obligatory sequel.
The very R-rated Kick-Ass is showing just about everywhere.