Kick Ass is a superhero movie with a twist. The film’s hero, Kick Ass (Aaron Johnson), is a home-grown superhero. Instead of suffering a life-changing mutation, having to avenge the deaths of best friends and loved ones or zapping his family’s fortune on a new double life fighting overblown crime big-wigs, Kick Ass buys a $99 wet suit only to find he gets his arse truly kicked when he tries to stand up against injustice.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn (who co-produced the film with Brad Pitt), Kick Ass is an adaptation of a comic book of the same title created by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. The film’s concept capitalises on answering the question ‘what if an average Joe tried to become a superhero?’. In this way it is similar in vain to films like Hancock insomuch as it challenges comfortable notions as to just what constitutes a superhero. Today’s superhero is getting rougher around the edges, Will Smith’s Hancock was an alcoholic, Aaron Johnson’s Kick Ass has a Myspace and spends several months recovering from his first attempt to stop crime.
Johnson’s everyday superhero is believable whilst Evan Peters and Clark Duke play their geeky-best-friend parts well. Although the average age of the protagonists may make you raise a questioning eyebrow as to the film’s credentials, it sidesteps most of the generic teenage jokes and gaffs allowing for some genuinely funny moments. What’s more surprising is that the film achieves this whilst starring Christopher –Superbad / Role Models– Mintz-Plasse who you might expect to make the film focus more on teenage comedy. His role as Red Mist is underplayed and you may be left wanting more to have come from his part. Nicholas Cage takes a step away from his usual characterisation in Kick Ass and provides a surprisingly subdued but winning role as Big Daddy, a caped crusader who fits the superhero tag a little better than Kick Ass as he seeks vengeance for being wrongly jailed for crimes he did not commit.
The film’s spotlight is ultimately stolen by Chloe Moretz in her portrayal of 11-year-old Hit Girl. Purple-haired and shiny-caped, Hit Girl puts most superheroes to shame. Her age, potty-mouth, self confidence and blood lust make for a comic mix and Moretz does the character complete justice. The first scene in which Hit Girl makes a real impact is both shocking and very funny.
There is the occasional use of interesting comic book graphics and motifs which could have been utilised a little more. The film’s soundtrack captures the movie’s blend of action and comedy. The Dickies’ Banana Splits fits one of the major fight scenes perfectly whilst the soundtrack also includes Ennio Morricone, The Prodigy and Elvis Presley.
There is an obligatory romantic focus for Dave Lizewski (Kick Ass’s geeky alter ego) coming in the guise of Lyndsy Fonseca, whilst the film’s bad guy is played faultlessly by Mark Strong, corrupt owner of a lumber chain.
Kick Ass proves his own statement ‘with no power comes no responsibility’ (an obvious spoof of Spiderman’s famous lines) wrong in this greatly enjoyable film and I’d advise you to follow the tag line’s advice; Shut Up. Kick Ass. (Now go watch the film).
Aaron Johnson, Dave Lizewski / Kick Ass, is actually English and is expecting a child with Sam Taylor Wood who directed him in Nowhere Boy. Other English actors hiding behind American accents include Mark Strong as Frank D’Amico, Dexter Fletcher as Cody and Jason Flemyng as ‘Lobby goon’.