Tuesday, 31 July 2012
If you're unsure about whether or not this is a film you might enjoy I'm going to start this review with one simple fact that is sure to help. Kick-Ass was the first film I had ever seen which dropped the C-bomb, it is spoken 37 minutes into the film by an 11 year old girl, moments before she massacres a room full of men with a double bladed sword. Still interested? Read on...
Matthew Vaughn // 2010 // 15 // 117 mins
Based on the comic book series of the same name, Kick-Ass is the story, and alter-ego, of high-school nerd Dave Lizewski who lives out the answer to his own question, why has nobody ever tried to be a superhero? Adorned in a gaudy green and yellow wetsuit and timberland boots Dave heads onto the streets of New York City to confront the 'bad guys' that litter it. Predictably there is the standard 'learning the ropes' sequence of every superhero film, where he trains and experiences his first scuffle, this however is where Kick-Ass signals its extreme difference from the hero films to which we are so accustomed. Not only does Dave get his ass kicked, he is stabbed and then ran into by a car, landing him in hospital. Kick-Ass is a brutal film.
Performance is integral to any film, but particularly one where the viewer is expected to root unwaveringly for their protagonists and Kick-Ass does not disappoint on this front. As Dave, Aaron Johnson is believably dorky and endearing, as Kick-Ass he is suitably naive yet determined and any viewer is sure to cheer him along as he struggles with extreme crime, a slew of both fans and haters, and the girl of his dreams who thinks that he's gay. The standout performances here though are those of Nicolas Cage and Chloë Moretz as father-daughter duo Big Daddy and Hit-Girl. Often hit-and-miss, Cage is perfect in his vengeful cop-turned-vigilante role, delivering bucket-loads of laughs, drama and cheesiness which perfectly constructs his character. Moretz is a revelation. In a performance which will completely divide opinion she is incredible, delivering punches, gunshots and one liners like a pro. This girl's cool factor is off of any scale known to man, and the scene which introduces both her and her father is one of the films best, encapsulating the tone of the film wonderfully.
Stylistically Kick-Ass looks fantastic, each frame crisp and bright with splashes of brilliant colour. It looks like a comic book film without having to trudge into the overly stylised terrain of Sin City or 300. Director Matthew Vaughn keeps the action sequences fresh each time with no two looking remotely similar, from Hit-Girls smooth rampage down a goon-ridden corridor to her strobe-lit guns blazing attack the range in presentation is refreshing. The soundtrack, also, is perfection, seamlessly merging the epic score with a playlist featuring the likes of Elvis, The Prodigy and Mika. One incredible sequence features Big Daddy killing his way through a warehouse full of criminals to an altered version of John Murphy's epic theme from 28 Days Later, and it is glorious.
Many superhero films tend to shy away from displaying any kind of extreme violence, implausible as it may be, however Kick-Ass takes a carefree approach and delivers so much more than could be expected of it. The plot never wanes and is consistent in its ability to shock, amuse and simply entertain it's audience. Numerous nods to existing comics fuel the atmosphere created, and also influence Daves journey. The story is rich in drama and the emotional centre to Big Daddy and Hit-Girls arc is beautifully balanced with the action packed fights and Daves coming-of-age tale. Brought together all of these aspects construct a thoroughly enjoyable piece of cinema.
Surrounded by the likes of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and Joss Whedon's fantastic hit with The Avengers we are currently living in an age of genuinely great superhero movies. Kick Ass, in my opinion, fully deserves a place alongside these films as a true example of how brilliant comic book films can be when done well. It's not to everyone's taste and it's certainly not family friendly, but it's one of the most ridiculously entertaining films you could hope to see, and one many viewers will return to many times with joy.