Never has a title been so true, so funny, and so simple as that of “Kick-Ass”.
Based on the comics by Mark Millar, the story is one of an ordinary comic-book-loving kid named Dave Lizewski who gets sick of people ignoring all of the crap in the world and resolves to emulate his heroes and become a masked vigilante. Needless to say he ends up hospitalised, criminals don’t take too kindly to people messing with them, but it was a fun idea.
Mixing wry realism with all the excesses of comic book violence, Millar’s creation is a masterpiece of ironic violence to rival anything produced by Tarantino. It’s conversion to film, though unnecessarily muting the glorious explosions of gore splattered across Millar’s pages, faithfully reproduces all of the deadpan hilarity Millar had to offer
The story of Dave Lizewski, and his alter-ego Kick-Ass, is not just the story of an ordinary teenager whose gutsy battle with some thugs becomes a YouTube hit, it is intertwined with a bona fide comic narrative provided by the funniest characters of the year by a mile: Big Daddy and Hit Girl. This duo are comic incongruity at it’s most brilliant.
Nick Cage brings a dead-pan wit and a perfect parody of Bale’s Batman to the role of Big Daddy, a cop whose false imprisonment has led him to seek revenge on the gangster who initiated his incarceration. Meanwhile Chloe Moretz (who excelled in “500 Days of Summer”) is a revelation as his 10-year-old daughter who has been trained into bad-ass killing machine in order to help bring down the evil mobster who destroyed her family.
The pair bounce maniacally between a twee father-daughter combo and the most dangerous duo ever to pull on a freaky costume.
The comedic element is supplemented by the presence of Christopher Mintz-Plasse who plays the son of the mobster being targetted by Big Daddy. As much of a comic fan as Dave, this character has a big part to play in the events that all of the characters soon become sucked into.
As a fan of the comics, I have a few problems with their transition to the big screen. One is that there’s not enough blood. It’s violent, yes, but it just lacks the excesses imbued into every page of Millar’s work. Explosions of limbs, gore and fluids splatter forth in the battles waged by these masked manmen, and the horrific consequences that await those who are in too deep are all too clear.
In the movie, a stabbing barely results in much bleeding and a pistol-whipping gives a man a mere graze. Not good enough! What’s more, Dave is meant to be an ordinary guy. He’s nothing special, but ABSOLUTELY NOT an archetypal ‘geek’. The film shoves him dangerously close to this territory and it’s not just unnecessary but actually pretty annoying. What’s more, it makes the character far less interesting and forces the focus more and more onto the awesomeness of Big Daddy.
Which brings me to my next point. These gripes are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, this is an awesome film. The dialogue is full of classic witticisms, wry observations and amusing absurdisms. The biggest kudos go to Cage and Moretz, but Aaron Johnson has plenty of great moments and Christopher Mintz-Plasse easily matches his comedic peak as McLovin’. The soundtrack is also superb, punctuating the action with as much wit as the incisive lines of the best characters.
The biggest success of the film is that is succeeds where so many have failed: it creates a loving parody of the comic book. All of the conventions are at once lampooned and lovingly revelled in: the twists and turns of the vengeance narrative, the orgiastic violence (however much it is tempered by nervous producers) and the playful jabs at the idiosyncracies of the people mad enough to take on the scum of the world. All of these things are played on with wit and with love, with superb results.
It’s funny, it’s clever, and it’s exciting. “Kick-Ass” is easily one of the best films of the year so far.
“Kick-Ass” opens on Friday in the U.K. & April 16th in the U.S.