"Kick-Ass": Movie Review (2010)

5/03/2010 Posted by Admin

Movie Review


Directed by Matthew Vaughn, written by Jane Goldman and Vaughn, 117 minutes, rated R.

By Christopher Smith

The new Matthew Vaughn movie, “Heidi”--excuse me, “Kick-Ass”--is just that. The movie is intense, it’s smart, the action is stylized and brisk, satire and wit rips through the script, and it has a sense of humor, which plenty of people, it must be said, don’t have about the film itself. The reason? “Kick-Ass” brings violence to a whole new threshold, which, you know, is a good reason it’s rated R.

That little fact should count for something, but plenty nevertheless are belly-aching over the movie, with most of the criticism aimed at the young character Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz, who was 11 when she performed in the movie), and how she’s used in the film.

Under the tutelage of her father, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage, beautifully cast in the sort of off-beat role at which he excels), Hit Girl is a force to be feared. In her everyday life as Mindy Macready, she’s a sweet, cheerful girl in pigtails. But when she’s called upon to morph into Hit Girl, she dons a mask and a purple wig, and her heart hardens with a brand of vigilante justice few adult men can best in an effort to take her down. She’s that fierce. Few should mess with her.

This is a problem for Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), who is being targeted by Big Daddy and Hit Girl for reasons best left for the screen. Let’s just say they have a major reason to go after D’Amico, a powerful mob boss armed with his own kick-ass moves and a battalion of muscle-headed minions ready to do his dirty work. Sandbagging him is his awkward son, Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who mirrors Hit Girl in that he just wants to make his father proud of him--regardless of the costs.
At its bloody core, “Kick-Ass” is, in fact, a movie about pleasing fathers. Also onboard is the character Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), an unpopular teen who is pretty much invisible at school--especially to girls--and who is being raised by his father after his mother’s sudden death.

Nothing seems to connect in Dave’s life until he gets the idea that maybe he isn’t reaching his true potential. Maybe he, like Batman before him, should become a superhero and help fix the world’s wrongs. Since few others are up to the task, Dave decides to go for it, buys a green suit and soon is the film’s titular character, Kick-Ass. After taking down a band of rebels, the lot of which is caught on video, Dave becomes an Internet sensation, and soon he’s siding with Big Daddy and Hit Girl in an effort to bring D’Amico down.

There’s so much to commend in “Kick-Ass,” it’s tough to know where to begin. Moretz is the stand-out--she commands the screen with a raw ferociousness that’s unheard of given her age. Watching her in the movie, you can see a bright career reaching out in front of her if she can snag the right roles. Cage also came to have fun, so much so that at long last you focus on his terrific performance instead of on the fright wigs he’s been saddled with in recent films. Johnson also is good, seamlessly bringing to the movie a coming-of-age element that deepens the comic-book proceedings, while Mintz-Plasse proves again why audiences fell for him as McLovin in “Superbad.”

For all those parents and parent groups currently ablaze over whether Moretz was exploited as Hit Girl, consider other child actors who have pushed the envelope (Jodi Foster in “Taxi Driver” anyone?), and then pay attention to the movie’s mostly absurdist tone. Yes, the movie is violent, but given the silly, unapologetic, way over-the-top way that violence is portrayed, there’s a reason the audience at my screening was howling.

And there’s a reason this film is intended for adults.

Grade: B+

View the Red Band trailer for "Kick-Ass" below. What are your thoughts?

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