A Review by Jason
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Aaron Johnson, Clark Duke, Mark Strong
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Rated:R for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use – some involving children
Movie Released: 2010
Please note, the following review does contain some spoilers. For a non-spoiler review of this film, please read The Mike’s original review of Kick Ass.
Many of you may in fact remember that The Mike wrote a very nice review of Kick-Ass on his site From Midnight With Love, that was cross posted on this site when Kick-Ass first came out. Now I’m never the type to say that movie maniac, The Mike has gotten something wrong. In fact, I’m a firm believer that you are never truly “wrong” when defending an opinion on movies (unless you are defending films like “Just Married” and “Juwanna Mann”). However, having seen the film Kick-Ass finally after months of avoiding it for some unknown reason, I felt the need to answer the question: Does Kick Ass actually kick ass?
Sadly enough after having seen the film, I’m not sure if there is a clear cut answer to that seemingly simplistic question. On one hand, Kick-Ass does feature a slew of scenes that do in deed involve ass kicking. If they involve our main character, the wannabe super hero, it involves him receiving said ass kicking. If it involves Hit Girl, the 9 year old revenge machine chocked full of brutal cuteness it also in deed kicks ass.
Where Kick-Ass may go wrong as a film is that it tows a very fine line between being what it strives not to be: just another comic book movie. The appeal of Kick-Ass is that it is a story about a normal kid who wants to be a super hero. He asks the question, “Why aren’t there real life super heroes?” and then aspires and tries to be one. The end result is, much like in real life he finds that being a super hero is harder than it looks, and no comic books look at any of the moral ramifications, or even the simple fact that the good guy doesn’t always win. This film set out to be different, and travelled down that road at a slow steady pace. This plot angle was fresh, new and inviting to audiences, at least until it hit the fork in the road.
For some reason, Kick-Ass decided to veer left and go the way of every comic book movie before it. We as viewers are told to believe that he damages his nerve endings and can’t feel pain and the police turn a seemingly blind eye to vigilante justice by caped heroes. Kick-Ass becomes the cliche of all modern comic book films, while still trying to be edgy and mock comic book films. If it’s intent was to indeed mock the comic book film, it was actually mocking the fabric that was used to sew this film. If it wasn’t actually mocking, but instead trying to be original it fails as well. Kick-Ass simply becomes another R rated comic book movie that follows the same pattern as all others with tiny bit of twist. It’s like making an R rated Spider-man film with Michael Cera as Peter Parker. -If you find that intriguing, may god have mercy on your soul!
Now few can argue that Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl simply steals the show. After all, our main character is uninteresting and just a complete uninformed buffoon. But one must really question what makes Moretz steal the screen in the first place. No one can deny that Moretz’s banter with her father (Nic Cage) might be some of the best father/daughter banter they have seen in a while, despite being vulgar and containing ridiculous subject matter. In fact, Kick-Ass gave birth to a worthy Nicolas Cage character that we haven’t seen since Cage was screaming “I’m Castor Troy!” and pummelling inmates with a lunch tray in Face/Off. Despite Cage’s off beat and quasi-irritating channelling of Adam West’s Batman, there is just something amazing that happens as Cage grins and says…”Huh… okay. Two more rounds. No wincing… No whining! And you got yourself a deal, young lady ; Good Call Baby Doll!” as he fires another round into his daughter’s bullet proof vest. However, a further examination of the Hit Girl character needs to be examined.
I can’t help but wonder if Hit Girl was not a 9 year old girl thrown into a “un-natural” scenario we would be having as much talk about this film. Action movie fans seem to be praising this as something mind blowing as we watch a little girl exhibit the same gun play that we see in comic book films like the Punisher, or in film’s like The Matrix (or any film John Woo has gotten his hands on). The point is, the action sequences lack originality, and are some of the most cliched moments I have seen on film. They are almost a parody of other action films and comic book films. The only reason we find them mind blowing is because it involves a child, and it is “funny” to see a little girl out of her element beating down baddies. One then must again ask, is Kick-Ass meant to be taken seriously or as mockery of it’s predecessors?
The point of this all is not to bash on a film that on many levels I did actually have fun with. My problem was this film just didn’t know what it was. So instead of deciding what it was, it tried to be two things at once. In my opinion, in order for Kick-Ass to be truly kick ass, it needed to take a stand. It did not. It took the cowards way out and towed a middle line poorly. If it wasn’t for a strong performance by Nic Cage and Chloe Moretz the film actually had little to nothing going for it. In the end, Kick-Ass is a fun flick to watch, but too many action/comic nerds are putting it up on a pedestal that it doesn’t quite deserve.