That Quentin Tarantino has a lot to answer for. He had nothing to do with Kick-Ass, but I can say with conviction that it would probably not be the same without him. The abundant, almost comedic, violence that is his trademark has twisted its way into Kick-Ass. And you know what? Other directors can pull it off just as well. Or it could just be Michael Vaughn who can pull it off. I don’t know. Either way, the folks at The Quentin Tarantino Archives say it was one of his favourite movies of 2010, so I guess it has the official seal of approval.
The story follows Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) as he decides to become a super hero called Kick-Ass. After rising to fame via YouTube a vengeful cop and his daughter (Nicolas Cage and Chloe Grace Moretz) are inspired and become Big Daddy and Hit Girl, respectively, and join him in his crime fighting. In trying to help his crush, Katie, Dave as Kick-Ass becomes entangled in a drugs gang who decide they want him dead. It is up to Kick Ass, Big Daddy and Hit Girl to stop the leader before he stops them.
I would like to say here that Kick-Ass, erm, kicks ass. It really does, it’s awesome! And I would also like to say that I will probably buy the graphic novel (and the sound track and the second graphic novel). And that Chloe Grace Moretz is a really good actress. Hit Girl was by far my favourite character; funny, cool and pretty handy with a knife (and double ended sword and gun and ninja star), she was also much deeper that I originally thought. It’s not an easy role to play sympathetically, and she could have easily become one of those annoying children the writers and directors have tried to make cute. But no pretence of cuteness is made here (oh-ho no!). Hit girl is one dinky killing machine, racking up what must be one of the highest body counts for a child in a film ever.
The other characters were mostly good too. There was Chris D’Amico as the wannabe big shot and son of ruthless drugs lord Frank D’Amico, Dave’s heckling friends (it’s difficult to say anything in front of them without being laughed at), and a bunch of D’Amico’s henchmen who are very good at creating creative deaths (who knew that if you microwave someone they will explode?). The only one I really had a problem with was Katie (Lyndsey Fonseca) who seemed to be there mainly as a pretty face (and who forgives a guy immediately who has just told you he has been lying for ages?).
The action scenes, though, were this film’s bread and butter. They were the kind of crazy violence that exists in Kill Bill. Seamlessly choreographed and beautifully shot, they gave the impression of a comic book, showing blood splatters frame by frame. The whole thing is unerringly confident in its ludicrousness and, I tell you, if Vaughn had made this film through a studio it have fallen to pieces. I mean, what studio wants to show an eleven year old girl as a ruthless killer. There was also the possibility that the fight scenes would become the whole film (as has happened so often in the past with movies like Transformers), but here they come regularly but snappily. Each expertly shot move is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, one certainly is never left yawning (or thinking about dinner) here.
Kick-Ass is unbelievably entertaining, hilarious at times and heartbreaking at others, and it really does beg the question why nobody tried to become a superhero in real life (well, it does until all the blood starts pouring out of everyone). And just to add to the superheroness of it, Taylor-Johnson sounds a lot like Spiderman, Toby Maguire.
And the sequel (the amazingly named Kick-Ass 2) is coming out this year!
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