It's nice to know that there are filmmakers out there like Matthew Vaughn who are willing to take some big risks with their features. And it's no surprise to me that his latest film Kick-Ass matches those expectations. However, I was surprised that it did hardly anything else but that. This is a fun, over-the-top, and stylistically violent film that has moments of greatness until it outstays its welcome.
At 127-minutes, it was hard to tell exactly where this film was going around the 90-minute mark. This is a story of an ordinary high-school "geek" named Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), one who likes comic books and dreams about the idea of becoming one. While I wish that there were more to this character than the "geek" stereotype (example: spends his Friday nights alone in his room jerking it to his teacher), it's certainly the perfect person you want to see become a superhero. One day, he ponders this idea, and does just that. He buys a cheap green and yellow costume online (that appropriately channels a rejected blue man's group costume) and hits the streets ready to tackle some crime. When he musters up the courage to approach some punks stealing a car, he nobly tries to stop them.
Then he gets stabbed.
Great way to introduce your hero, wouldn't you say?
Fortunately for Dave, he survives the ordeal and is willing to answer the call once again. This time he's much more successful. After taking down some thugs in a parking lot in front of a group of spectators, his actions are taken to the Internet where he becomes the biggest online sensation ever. He's on top of the world. That is until other superheroes decide to join in.
Meet the characters who steal the movie. Hit-girl (played by Chloe Moretz, who you might recognize as the little sister from 500 Days of Summer) is a pre-teen murdering machine, trained by her psycho, revenge-seeking father Damon Macready, aka Big Daddy. Nicholas Cage is in top form here as the wicked father, showing off his genius in a supporting role. Hit-girl and Big Daddy decide to bring Kick-Ass along for some, well, ass-kicking. They must stop an evil mob boss named Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong) and his nerdy son Chris, aka Red Mist, from taking them down. Christopher Mintz-Please (in case you steal need the damn reference, it's McLovin from Superbad) fits the character perfectly.
The plot is pretty standard in the world of comic-book movies, but it's the style and ultra-funny action scenes from Matthew Vaughn that makes Kick-Ass one hell of an entertaining ride. I'll admit my disappointment in the film's disguise of breaking Hollywood rules, by succeeding in its violence but becoming dependent on the conventions of a third-act script. When I saw the theatrical trailer for this film, I was excited that it looked like it was willing to go there. The film itself went there for the first 90-minutes, but it came crawling back in need of a conclusion.