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Kick-Ass Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Monday, 22 March 2010 16:58
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Aaron Johnson, Nicholas Cage, Chloe Moretz, Mark Strong, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Certificate: 15

Have you ever watched Spider-Man and wondered what it would be like if Peter Parker cut someone's head off? Mark Millar has. But blood and guts arent part of cinema's superhero world. They're part of the real world, where superheroes aren't people with super powers, they're people with big guns and mental health problems. It's tribute to Millar's genius that the idea works so well - his clever comic book series is not only original, but it's something that truly lives up to its form: it's novel. And it's incredibly graphic.

Who better, then, to tackle the twisted humour of Millar's mind than Matthew Vaughn? Well, you could easily name a few (Layer Cake and Stardust are hardly distinctive cinema classics) but after seeing Kick-Ass on a big screen, you'll see how perfect a fit it all is. Shunning studio funding for a free reign with the tremendous source material, Vaughn doesn't go easy on the swearing. Or the violence. Or anything, for that matter. This is one of those rare occasions in cinema (even rarer for a comic book movie) - a director really cutting loose with some high-class adult entertainment.

Dave Lizewsli (John Lennon) is your average dork - he spends his days unnoticed at school and his nights filling Kleenex over thoughts of his English teacher. But one day an idea hits him: why doesn't anyone in real life try being a superhero? The answer: they'd get the crap kicked out of them. One hospital trip later and he's all set to go: Kick-Ass. Half wetsuit, half metal plates and a whole lot of stupid.

Trying to woo Katie, the girl of his dreams, Dave soon ends up on YouTube mid-punch up. Sure enough, Kick-Ass becomes an internet sensation overnight. Soon he's fighting mob boss Frank D'Amico (Strong) alongside fellow vigilantes Big Daddy (Cage) and Hit-Girl (Moretz) - a 10 year old with a taste for knives, guns and the c-word. Setting up society's saviours as unbalanced nutjobs, Kick-Ass pulls no punches in its dark treatment of the genre stereotypes: a jaded ex-policeman, Big Daddy is out for revenge against D'Amico's wannabe Scarface, while Dave lives with his widower father, pretending to be gay just to get into Katie's bedroom.

But while everything is laugh-out-loud funny, you still end up feeling some kind of warped sympathy for these crazy characters. It helps that they're all clearly having so much fun - John Lennon is a reliable lead, while Cage's OTT Adam West impression puts him back at the top of his game. Even Christopher Mintz-Plasse outgrows McLovin' playing Kick-Ass copycat, Red Mist. As for Chloe Moretz's psychotic schoolgirl? Believe the controversy: she's as bloodthirsty as you could imagine, with a disturbing streak of cute naivety. Every time she mows down a roomful of bad guys, don't be surprised if she gets a standing ovation.

It's all pulled off with consummate style. Jane Goldman's sharp script, co-written with Vaughn, is a perfect port of Millar's witty dialogue and post-modern references (even with that anachronistic use of MySpace). They chop and change the plot a lot, but every change works, creating a wonderfully hyper cartoon-like reality. And Matthew Vaughn's direction is amazing; visceral, dynamic and overwhelmingly confident, he finds his voice here as a filmmaker and never hits a bum note.

Crafting a series of high octane action sequences, Vaughn's hands-on approach shirks CGI for a good old solid smack in the face. If Quentin Tarantino made a superhero movie, this would be better. Shifting from strobe lighting to comic strip flashbacks, this is a daring and bold piece of film. Even with its lazy soundtrack, Kick-Ass is an individual, intertextual delight. Where else would you hear the line "f*ck this sh*t, I'm getting the bazooka"? Far from a pastiche or mere piss-take, this is a whole new kind of superhero movie: honest, hilarious and heartwarmingly violent.


Why so serious? Kick-Ass is fun, thrilling and unexpectedly sweet. But more than anything, Kick-Ass is gloriously violent. In the sickest, funniest, most inspired way possible.


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