The Australian Family Association has used the words ‘offensive’ and ‘inappropriate’ to describe Kick-Ass; they forgot to mention that it’s bloody brilliant!
Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), is an average geeky teenager, but whereas his friends just read comic-books about superheroes, he goes one step further and dons a costume to become ‘Kick-Ass’. After a somewhat less than successful first attempt at crime-fighting he soon finds fame thanks to YouTube. This new-found celebrity brings with it some problems however, most notably when he gets caught up in the attempts of two rather better trained vigilantes, ‘Bid Daddy’ (Nicolas Cage) and his daughter ‘Hit-Girl’ (Chloe Moretz) who seek revenge against the local crime boss (Mark Strong).
Director Matthew Vaughn has gathered together an outstanding cast, and it says a lot about the sheer quality of the ensemble that Nicolas Cage, by far the biggest name, takes a backseat role as the younger generation dominates the screen. Aaron Johnson, a leading-man in the making, manages to take what could have been a pretty standard role of ‘awkward teenaged kid’ and turn it into something that actually provides an engaging leading character. But, whilst Johnson’s ‘Kick-Ass’ may give the film its title, it is 13 year-old Chloe Moretz as the adorable but deadly ‘Hit-Girl’ who undoubtedly steals the show. To describe her performance as ‘grown-up’ seems rather patronising, nor does it do justice to the sheer brilliance of her portrayal of a miniature assassin.The film’s combination of humour, outlandish action, and emotional drama really does owe a massive amount to her performance. Indeed, it is her role that has generated much of the aforementioned controversy. In the course of two hours she uses words that would get most children her age grounded for a decade and slaughters a few dozen heavily armed gangsters using a combination of handguns, kitchen knives and acrobatics, all whilst wearing a purple wig and matching cape. Offensive? Perhaps. Inappropriate? Maybe. Entertaining? Definitely.
If the action I’ve just described sounds a bit crazy then you’re right, it is, and I loved every minute of it. Whilst some would try to make one feel guilty for this, those with the ability to actually distinguish between a film and reality are in for a treat. Kick-Ass controls its craziness, unleashing it at just the right moments to create spectacular action sequences and some really quite surreal scenes; watching a father and daughter practising getting shot whilst discussing ice cream is brilliantly bizarre, and disturbingly funny.
Underlying all of this of course is the script, which finds the perfect tempo; there wasn’t a single moment where I felt my attention waning. The writers have pulled off something special; the film stays true to its origins, whilst simultaneously mocking recent comic-book adaptations, most obviously with lines such as; ‘with no power comes no responsibility’. There are some dark and even disturbing moments in this film but it never takes itself too seriously; it doesn’t try to justify the violence like The Dark Knight, another brilliant but very different film.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that Kick-Ass is the most entertaining film I have ever seen. Not only is it top-quality entertainment, on every level it’s a wonderful piece of cinema. My only regret upon reviewing Kick-Ass is that convention limits me to giving it only five stars.