Friday, December 3, 2010


Taken from Mark Millar and John Romita Jr's graphic novel, "Kick-Ass," like fellow comic book adaptation "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" (which it name-drops), has problems with sustenance. In its multilayered first half, it does something moderately excellent. It follows Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), as he goes from geek nobody to famous superhero Kick-Ass; the criminal operations of a much-hated crime lord Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong) and his outcast son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse); and the efforts of rogue crime fighters Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz), as they try to bring D'Amico down. This is rich in humor, and transcendent of the shallow boundaries that it automatically sets for itself. But, in the later portions, as the film stretches a little too long, it isn't able to hold together. Director Matthew Vaughn makes the mistake of taking Kick-Ass offscreen and leaving the stage set for Hit Girl. (Much criticism has been spouted due to the level of violence and bad language perpetuated by someone as young as Hit Girl. I would dismiss such claims as mostly idiotic, due to the overblown nature of the earlier Hit Girl moments of the film. Onward into the film, however, I see what the haters are talking about.) When you have as electric a character as Kick-Ass, you don't want to do that. Subtracting the power supply, the film loses its charge (which continues even after he's brought back), and along with that, common sense (for some reason forgetting entirely about the romantic interest of the film at the end; the last shot is a mumbled echo of an earlier incident, with no real bearing on the plot whatsoever).

Pulling back to explain a bit more of the plot: Dave Lizewski notes that nothing really distinguishes him from anyone else. He has only a couple of nerdy friends (played in very adept comic performances by Clark Duke and Even Peters) and his designs for a girl (Lyndsy Fonseca) are entertained by the object of his desire only because she thinks he's a homosexual and because she wants a "gay BFF." (He also, in one of the film's biggest misplays, a cringe-inducing development, has sexual thoughts about his English teacher.) He is also routinely mugged and stunned by how people refrain from helping, only watching dumbfounded (the quote "Evil can only exist when good people do nothing" comes to mind). He decides to suit up to combat the crime of the city, and soon enough he's widely known as a real superhero. This causes commotion among the felons, such as D'Amico, even though Kick-Ass isn't responsible for a lot of the things that people think he did. Big Daddy and Hit Girl are the ones accountable, going for revenge against D'Amico, who sent Big Daddy to prison through planted evidence and is now peddling a lot of cocaine.

This is both more appealing and more negative than it sounds, well-played by Vaughn and his solid set of actors, including a winning Johnson (who I hope to see more of), Cage pushing too far to diverting effects, and Moretz, who has (perhaps too much) facility. These performers and amusing (if flawed w/r/t narration) writing make it a real pain in the ass that the film goes down the road that it ultimately does. B-


Adelaide Dupont said...

Is Kick-Ass the film where the 11-year-old girl participates in kicking, punching and other antics; whether through her own efforts or facillitated through CGI?

Good to see that you picked up that there was more of a story than that. And glad to see that you picked up on the criticism and give your own strong opinion that it was "idiotic".

Jozeph Dukö said...

I enjoyed this movie much more than the comic. The comic had some moments that were just plain unnecessary. But the movie got rid of all those moments and created a world where a little girl can be turned into something that a corporation would want to monitor. I'm also glad u saw through that and judged the movie on it's worth.

Nick Duval said...

Good to hear, Jozeph, that the film is more successful than than the comic.