Antonio Rowe 06/04/2010
Kick Ass is a cult classic.
The film is adapted from a little known comic - book series by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr, the quick-witted comical screenplay is written by Jane Goldman and directing duties belong to Matthew Vaughn. Not wanting to be too overzealous about this film, it's a teen /black comedy/ Tarantino-stimulated/extremely violent/superhero film.
Before I digress, rant and rave about the numerous brilliant aspects of the film (and trust me there are many) that make it a cult classic, I guess I need to get the boring part out of the way and tell you about the plot. The film's protagonist is Dave Lizewski, a comic-obsessed, teenage boy played by 19 year old Aaron Johnson (Lennon biopic 'Nowhere Boy') who just can't seem to overcome the fact that no-one has taken up the exciting occupation of being a superhero. After mulling over his conundrum he orders a not-so modest green and yellow scuba suit from the internet and gives himself a superhero alias known as Kick-Ass. Refreshingly his first encounter with some baddies results in his near demise and after begging some very confused paramedics not to mention his unique attire thus leading to the rumours that he was found naked and therefore he is gay.
I know so obvious right?
Anyway this then luckily leads him to becoming friends with his crush Katie (Lyndsy Foneca) who loves the idea of having a gay best-friend. Time passes and Dave feels like he is ready to give his alter-ego Kick-Ass another shot, which again results in another near demise which is only prevented by the arrival of daughter and father superhero/vigilante duo Big Daddy and Hit Girl played by Nicholas Cage and Chloe Mortez. Who are craving to serve a cold plate of revenge to brutal mobster Frank D' Amico (Mark Strong) his son Chris, who also longs to be a superhero is played Christopher Mintz-Plasse and thankfully his character is not just another clone of the Mc Lovin alter-ego in Superbad.
The plot progresses and Kick - Ass soon becomes a public sensation thanks to a New-Yorker uploading a video of him fighting off attackers on YouTube. Without giving too much of the plot away, inevitably the distance between the sides of good and evil become shorter and shorter resulting in a climatic fight. A particular corridor scene is very reminiscent of the Bride taking on the Crazy 88 in volume one of Kill Bill
So what stops Kick Ass becoming an over the top, lunacy - riddled comedy film?
Well to start off, the eccentric characters thankfully have more dimensions than just the one and there are some top-notch performances from the actors playing them. After a couple of years of churning out bland performances in films ranging from the average to just the pure insipid drizzle (see Ghost Rider and Next) Nicholas Cage is back on form and does the doting dad aspect of his character justice, also supplies some of most comical parts of the film and even manages to squeeze in an Adam West Batman parody for good measure. Somehow 13 year old Chloe Mortez manages to pull off the impossibly ridiculous role of Hit Girl without it seeming too controversial and unethical.
Then there is the stylised editing that pays homage to Tarantino but also puts its own unique twist on things and the music soundtrack is also above par too with a couple of great tracks. And I haven't even got started on the content; suicide is the topic that is used for the film's opening joke, a masturbation montage and a child uttering obscenities at her father are all covered within the first 15 minutes or so into the film. Yeah it's not exactly an idle Sunday afternoon film to watch with your family.
But like I said at the beginning of this review, the film is a Cult Classic not a mainstream classic. Some people will feel the film is an over-done stuffed Christmas turkey with all the trimmings. Feeling there is simply too many mind-bending elements existing in the film for it to work and if that doesn't put off some people, then seeing a scene which sees Hit Girl been shot by her father in order to toughen her up and get used to a bullet proof vest certainly will seem to some people just too much. This again adding to the fact that some of these characters and use of content will be simply be extreme for people.
For me the main reason why the film works and stops it from becoming an excessive black comedy/kind of superhero blockbuster train wreck. Is the fact that throughout the film there is an irresistible charm effect which I think is present mainly because the overall budget of the film has been reported to be only a measly 19 million and the fact something so entertaining and unique has managed to be created from this relatively small amount of money in movie-making terms, although surprisingly Brad Pitt is enlisted as one of the producers.
Kick Ass is a film that will be adored by its niche market and be heralded as been preposterous by anyone who isn't in the niche market. Whether that market is millions of people worldwide or a couple or a couple hundred thousand, I don't know. You probably know already whether your part of that niche or not just by reading with this review. I certainly am.
With the credits rolling, the plot still open ended and leaving plenty of room for a sequel. I come out of the screening room knowing that in my opinion at least I've just watched a 2 hours in length, cult cinematography and adrenaline-fuelled masterpiece.