Kick-Ass Movie Review

There’s a delicious stupidity at work in Kick-Ass‘ titular character, who is at times also known as… “Dave.” A comic fan, he wonders how it can be that no one has tried to become a superhero. No one has superpowers, sure, but you don’t need any just to slap on a mask and give a beating to a few evil-doers. Ok, it would be stupid, but look at all the stupid things people do. In the grand scheme of clueless endeavors, how has this one been left alone so long?

A mere High School student, and sorely lacking even in the arena of your average, mortal powers, Dave decides to give this superhero thing a try. Without the aid of radiation, alien lineage, or even a tragic backstory and billions of dollars, Dave puts on a suit and begins wandering the mean streets looking for crime.

What makes his effort wonderfully charming, especially given his lack of any skill whatever, is that he isn’t remotely fooling himself, and he isn’t crazy. He knows how stupid the whole idea is, but even after his first attempt at cleaning up the neighborhood goes horribly wrong, he is simply determined to out stupid the whole system.

Unbeknownst to Dave, there’s a more serious vigilante at work in town. Damon Macready (Nicolas Cage), going by the name Big Daddy, is waging war on a certain crime boss, taking his underlings out one at a time. When Kick-Ass gets a little too much press as a “superhero,” said crime boss sets his sights on giving a lesson to would-be good samaritans.

Before he knows what happens, Dave finds himself in way over his head, and he’s still got to find some time to try to win over his High School crush, who he learns has something of a crush on Kick-Ass.

Kick-Ass is pure, high-speed action at its best, with a lot of wild laughs thrown in for good measure, and most everything good about it comes by way of turning its own genre inside out. Not simply a story of a superhero who isn’t, which probably wouldn’t amount to much, in the end it’s the story of a superhero who really rather is. Let’s face it, when you have the superpowers, being a superhero isn’t actually a real tough job. Kick-Ass quips at one point, “With no power comes no responsibility,” but he goes on to live up to a different standard.

Through the furious action, thoroughly engaging story, and myriad references to “geek” culture, the truly magnetic pull of the film is the distance it maintains from the comic norms. Apart from the obvious, and also obviously because of it, there is a certain reinvention of the wonder of simply not knowing that is utterly lost in the superhero genre as a whole. However grim things might get, you know the ultimate outcome of a superhero comic. Here, we are not only on different footing as a result of the basic situation, but the story plays out with Kick-Ass putting himself in such ludicrously dangerous situations that we actually manage some tension.

The script plays its role in delivering that tension, and the uniquely outlandish action theory, but Aaron Johnson cannot be given too much credit in giving us a Kick-Ass that fits the effort. A kind of everykid goof who ultimately is just trying to figure out a way to jar the status quo… aren’t we all… his is clearly an overly ambitious avenue of self-discovery, but one that, somehow, manages only to diverge from everyday life in extreme, and in commitment to execution. Crazy as it might sound before you see the film, this could actually happen (well, most of it), and Johnson delivers the kid who might actually do it.

As good as Johnson is, Chloe Moretz steals the entire film as Big Daddy’s daughter. Under the alias Hit Girl, she has been trained for several years already, and at the ripe old age of somewhere in her tweens, she is already a killing machine. The force behind a good percentage of the actual ass kicking in the film, she is tough, hilarious, cute as a button, and surprisingly believable dealing out punishment. Added to the list of things you haven’t run into before, there is something about a tween girl slicing people apart with a polearm that you simply don’t know what to do with as an audience.

I’m fairly certain that the easiest prediction of 2010 will not change, and that prediction is that you will have fun watching Kick-Ass. It’s funny. It’s fun. And, it’s the sort of thing they had in mind when they coined the expression, “that’s just crazy enough to work.” More importantly, behind every laugh and crazy fight scene is some mix of the sensibilities of comic book author Mark Millar and director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust). The combination adds a clever, savvy approach to the film, and while it might have been an incredibly fun ride anyway, now it kicks ass.


Check out Green and Red Trailers below.

Also, there are some exciting things taking place for KICK-ASS right now!

Next Tuesday, March 23rd, Jonathon Ross of The Times UK will interview KICK-ASS director Matthew Vaughn in a LIVE streaming event on Facebook! Make sure you are a fan of the official Kick-Ass Facebook page to get up-to-date event details, a chance to submit your own question and to tune-in for this very special interview! Details are below:

KICK-ASS Live Chat with Matthew Vaughn

Date: Tuesday, March 23rd (The day after the UK Premiere)





*Note: the interview will also be streaming live on The Times UK website and the Kick-Ass UK Facebook page.


Also, Lionsgate has launched a new Kick-Ass Photobomb iPhone App that is available now on the iTunes App Store! Share your pictures with the rest of the world by email or by showing it off in the Photobomb user gallery! If you don’t have an iPhone but still want to get in on the KICK-ASS action, you can also log on to to grab cool KICK-ASS Sound Bites featuring some of the best lines from the movie!

Are You Screening?

Written by
Marc Eastman is the owner and operator of Are You Screening? and has been writing film reviews for over a decade, and several branches of the internet's film review world have seen his name. He is also a member of The Broadcast Film Critics Association and The Broadcast Television Journalists Association.

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