Cornwall reviewer Stuart McColl goes vigilante with the stylised, boisterous and energetic Kick-Ass
Adapted from a Mark Millar comic book by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman (of Stardust and Jonathan Ross’ wife fame), Kick-Ass tells the story of Dave Lizewski, your average American high-school kid, who dreams of doing what nobody else through history has done before -donning a costume and fighting crime -not for accolades or pay, but because it’s the right thing to do.
Dave is imbued with a refreshing moral centre not only by the film’s script, but also by Aaron Johnson’s talented and understated performance. He brings a perfect sense of comedic timing to the film as well as those ‘leading man sensibilities’, which will only continue to grow as his career progresses. Add to this a hugely creditable accent (he’s British) and you have a brilliant piece of casting.
After ordering a $99 wetsuit and mask from the internet, Dave is transformed into Kick-Ass, the sorriest-looking superhero you’re ever likely to see. However, his crime-fighting debut is short-lived -viciously attacked, he is forced into a lengthy recuperation in hospital. The attack leaves him with his only ‘superpower’, that of a few shot nerve endings, and it isn’t long before he takes to the streets again for his sophomore superhero effort, and this time, it’s successful.
Captured on a dozen camera phones, the green-and-yellow crusader’s efforts are rewarded when he becomes an overnight YouTube sensation. Whereas Clark Kent and Peter Parker used old media to help them fight crime, Dave Lizewski puts a new media combination of YouTube and Myspace at his disposal.
His quite reckless temerity and interest in the opposite sex sees Kick-Ass undertake a mission a little bit out of his league. On the ropes and looking like there’s no way back, it’s Kick-Ass’ newly found celebrity that saves him -in the form of a ‘real’ superhero team. Eleven year-old Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) and her adoring father Big Daddy (A hilarious Nicolas Cage) come to a very violent rescue. The rest of the film sees the three put their lack of powers to the test against crime lord Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) and his loner teenage son (Chistopher Mintz-Plasse).
Kick-Ass is a frenetic piece of film -ultra-stylised, boisterously soundtracked, lovingly shot and with an energetic pace -it never puts a foot wrong. The adapted script is both witty and exuberant, filled with one-liners that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Judd Apatow production, as well as comic book references that satirise the genre, but also pay homage to it. Everything combines together to create a true testament to Matthew Vaughn’s dogged determination to get the movie made. Originally turned down by the studios, he ended up funding the entire thing off of his own back. And we should be very glad that he did.