Kick Ass (2010)
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn | 106 minutes | action, drama, comedy | Actors: Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Mark Strong, Nicolas Cage, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jason Flemyng, Lyndsy Fonseca, Clark Duke, Xander Berkeley, Tamer Hassan, Yancy Butler, Michael Rispoli, Evan Peters, Omari Hardwick, Nelson Frazier Jr. Ashleigh Hubbard, Deborah Twiss, Randall Batinkoff, Katrena Rochell, Adrian Martinez, Melissa Anne Smith, Kofi Natei, Tim Plester, Val Jobara, Kenneth Simmons
You could already tell from the previews, trailers and advertising posters: ‘Kick-Ass’ is anything but an ordinary superhero film. This action comedy is therefore more of a satire on the genre it is part of – such as ‘Hancock’ – than an outright comic book adaptation of much more famous heroes such as Batman or Spider-Man. However, the story lacks sufficient coherence to be able to poke fun at (recent) high-flyers from the genre. The result of the fantasy of comic book artist Mark Millar (‘Wanted’) and director Matthew Vaughn (‘Layer Cake’, ‘Stardust’) is in fact more of a sketch show than a full-fledged comic hero epic, in which energetic action positions and childish humor alternate.
Kick-Ass, the titular “hero” of the story, is Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), an average teenager who decides he’s had enough of people on the street watching someone get mugged or beaten up, and therefore transforms himself into a superhero. He comes up with a fitting name, orders a flashy wetsuit and baton and is ready for battle. The only downside: he has no superpowers. Or actually, no significant powers at all. The only thing that aids him in his crime-fighting adventures is the fact that he was once run over by a car and has a higher pain threshold thanks to a medical procedure. His techniques for dealing with robbers and other criminals mainly consist of taking blows, and less of handing them out. Until he is filmed by a bystander during one of his nightly activities during the fight with three heavy boys and thus ends up on YouTube. A big step to fame, as it turns out. He soon has an extensive online network, where he can be called in via an email or message to fight injustice. Entirely in its own way.
One of the potential clients for a job for Kick-Ass is classmate and love interest Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca), who – very practically – is harassed by a small-scale drug dealer. Hoping to win her heart, Kick-Ass immediately sets out to tell this criminal to leave her alone. Arriving on the battlefield, he gets to know Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz, who actually carries the film) and Big Daddy (a delightfully exaggerated Nicolas Cage), two much more successful superheroes who set out to kill local crime boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong). to bring down. Father and daughter, along with Dave’s friends, are the main comic relief in the story, due to the special (and disturbing) bond between the pair, the daily “superhero training” that Big Daddy subjects his Hit-Girl to, and the combination of language and fighting technique with which the young girl presents herself. From there it gets crazier with the plot and especially the credibility, when D’Amico’s son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) also gets involved as a semi-superhero. Although this is of course not the type of film to fall for story or realism.
At the end of the ride you have to establish that it is pre-eminently the type of film for which your mind has to be completely blank. ‘Kick-Ass’ offers a lot of entertainment, in its unlikely coverage of a bunch of insane superheroes who go out to fight local crime. However, as a comedy, the film does not fully come into its own. The humor is only in the action itself, and hardly in the story around it. You laugh the loudest when Hit-Girl takes on a bunch of heavily armed opponents in a fantastic way, or when the girl in school uniform takes out a group of guards. In fact, you laugh the hardest anyway when the fabulous Hit-Girl is in action. However, the scenes that should actually carry the comic load of the film often lack the right tone. Kick-Ass’ bumbling in his early superhero endeavors, the dynamics with his group of friends, or the fact that Katie approaches Dave because she thinks he’s gay. A lot of cliché jokes, which you have seen many times (and usually better). It turns ‘Kick-Ass’ into an unbalanced sketch show, in which the successful entertainment that the often inventive action choreography offers – in combination with a fast, cheerful soundtrack – is interspersed with unnecessarily long-winded scenes with lame humor that really doesn’t belong in a movie that doesn’t suitable for children.