I know this was supposed to be for Monday, but I couldn’t wait.
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Chloe Grace Moretz
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
When I heard “Kick-Ass” was being made into a movie, the comic book geek in became very excited. Although it certainly had it’s faults, Mark Millar and the legendary John Romita Jr created a refreshing title in the world of superheroes. Could the movie live up to the high expectations I had going in?
In a word: Absolutely.
Kick-Ass tells a simple story. Dave Lizewski (Johnson) is your typical high school nobody. This is all very typical and the parallels to Peter Parker are intentional, so much that Dave even lives in a house and neighborhood that resembles the house Peter where lives in 2002’s Spider-Man. Dave only has a couple of friends, girls don’t give him the time of day, and he loves comic books. He wonders why real people haven’t tried to be a superhero before. It gets to the point that he goes and tries it for himself. Thus with a little help of scuba gear and a couple of batons, Kick-Ass is born.
Without giving away too much of the plot, he becomes an internet sensation, meets Red Mist (Minz-Plasse), Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage in a great performance), and Hit Girl (Moretz), he fights a mob boss (Mark Strong), and tries to get the girl (Lyndsy Fonseca) who may or may not think he’s gay. It makes sense in context, trust me. All the characters have their own, albeit cliche, stories to explain their motivations. Dave’s is simple: someone needed to stand up and do what’s right; even if doing what’s right might get him killed.
Director Matthew Vaughn is a hot commodity. After the stellar British gangster movie Layer Cake (the movie that put Daniel Craig on the map), and the underrated fantasy Stardust, Marvel had pegged him for not one but two of their movies (what would become the disasterous X-Men: The Last Stand and the now filming Thor). Those fell through, so he made a superhero movie where he could do what he wanted. He keeps a great pace throughout the entire movie, adding some great comedy bits among the completely over-the-top violence. In this world, heroes get shot and stabbed (among other things), and these things leave a mark. The bullets don’t bounce off here, folks.
The cast is near-perfect. Johnson does a great job in the title role. His Dave has all the right intentions in the world, but he’s also every comic book nerd out there: an awkward, not popular, smart-ass. I can relate. Comics aside, I was essential Dave. I still am. Minz-Passe will always be McLovin, but I have yet to see him in a role that I don’t believe him in or enjoy and he does very well here. Mark Strong, an holdover from Stardust, does a nice job as the villain. Fonseca does what’s needed as the would-be love interest for Dave: look pretty and likely out of reach, though the two do have very nice chemistry. I do have to mention that Dave’s two friends (Clark Duke and Evan Peters) are absolutely hilarious.
That said, there are two roles that steal the show and they happen to be father and daughter in the movie. I’ll take the first. Nicolas Cage plays Big Daddy. A complete vigilante. Think less Batman, more Punisher. He was once a cop, but wouldn’t get in on the take in a corrupt police force. He’s set up and is sent to prison. He plots his revenge the entire time, training while in there. Like Dave, this is a very typical hero origin story, but Cage makes it his own. It’s easy to forget how good Cage can be with the right material, especially since he has a tendency to not pick the right material. His Big Daddy is an one man wrecking crew, but its his sense of humor that makes him memorable. He laughs at his own lame jokes and his delivery in costume is so rhythmically uneven that it’s hilarious.
As good as Cage is, we all know who the star of this movie really is: his daughter Mindy/Hit Girl. At 13, Moretz is a wonderful young actress. I first saw her as the smartass (yet wise) little sister of the lead in (500) Days of Summer, but here she really shines. Hit Girl is trained from a young age to be a killing machine and what a killing machine she is. There is simply no stopping Hit Girl. In the climax, it’s young Mindy that comes up with the plan and mostly goes toe-to-toe with the main villain, not Kick-Ass. All the great action stars of yesteryear have NOTHING on Hit Girl. She does it all with the foulest mouth you’ve ever heard on a person so young since the boys of “South Park.” That has come under fire, especially by Roger Ebert, but really, Kick-Ass is rated R for a reason, ladies and gentlemen. It’s not for the kiddies! Her first line in costume makes us sure we all know this fact.
Bottom Line: Kick-Ass is one hell of a fun ride. Matthew Vaughn has directed one of the best comic book movies of all-time. It’s definitely in my top 10, quite possibly in the top five. It’ll take time to figure out where it ultimately falls. If you want a great time filled with ultra-violent fight scene and with funny characters, this is the movie for you. One last note, Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables (a movie with nearly every action star alive in it) now has a problem: Chloe Grace Moretz is not in it.
9/10 (Highly Recommended).
I’ll probably be back again Monday with another review. I couldn’t resist reviewing this one sooner than intended. I hope you all have a great rest of the weekend!