starring Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, & Nicholas Cage
directed by Matthew Vaughn
screenplay by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
based on the comic book series by Mark Millar & John Romita, Jr.
Lions Gate (2010)
I remember hearing some controversy over Chloe Moretz's involvement with this film in the weeks leading up to its theatrical release. The whole children-and-violence thing wasn't sitting well with the more anally retentive among us. I gotta say, after finally having a chance to watch this movie, I doubt any tween has been traumatized--least of all Moretz.
That's one of the things though that sits in the middle of this movie: the violence. It's not really a glorification of violence, but it is stylized so that I can see how folks would see it that way. When thugs and gangsters are having limbs chopped off and brains blown out, all to peppy and high octane soundtracks, the sensational aspects of those scenes are a bit entrancing. But to say that the movie is little more than that is really just a declaration of ignorance.
I read and reviewed the graphic novel earlier in the year (click here). I had a couple of reservations concerning the violence within the book, but I just had a preconception of what to expect, then had it disintegrated. I think the thing about the comic book and the movie is that each approaches the violence in a very different way than just about any popular superhero fiction that I've previously seen.
And that's the key to this movie's success, I think. It gives a comical, yet stark, view of what it might be like to emulate a superhero. When the bad guy punches you in the face, it's going to hurt--a lot. Which is precisely what happens to Dave (Aaron Johnson) when he dons a scuba suit and mask and calls himself Kick-Ass, New York City's first real-life superhero.
But it's Moretz's turn as Mindy (aka Hit Girl) with Nicholas Cage as her father, Big Daddy, that really steal the show. Maybe the startling sight of a little girl with a sword spewing profanity left and right, and beaming a satanic smile as she lays waste to bad guys is hard to compete with, but there are the quieter scenes in which her character has to deal with what the violence has wrought on her family that shows Moretz can actually act quite well for a kid her age. And seeing Cage channel Adam West in a couple of scenes while in costume is plain fun to watch.
The movie gets a bit ridiculous towards the ends, as did the comic books, but the action is easy to get into. And aside from a glaring addition to the superhero arsenal that is over-the-top to an insulting degree, the movie plays it pretty close to the bone and tries to keep it firmly entrenched in a real world atmosphere. The slavering audience, which includes Dave's best friends, who eat up the YouTube clips of Kick-Ass doling out vigilante justice is all too real. And one scene in particular really made me like some of those spectators less when the film takes a dark turn.
If you like action, superheroes, blood and bullets, and some comic relief rolled into a very colorful and glossy package, this is a good movie for you. And the featurette that shows the collaboration of the comic book's creators and artists is very enlightening.