As a service, I should let you know that there are spoilers in here. Not major spoilers, but parts of the plot of the film are given away. I won’t ruin the ending, though. Thank you!
I learned to hate writing film reviews. So stuffy is the practice of reviewing the motion picture that there are sites (albiet sites that provide a very useful service) meant to collect everything anyone has ever said about a movie, throw it into a blender, and tell you how good it is in numbers. Few movies that are released these days are thick enough to warrant lengthy discussion and interpretation, which is saddening, but is to be expected.
Kick-Ass is not a movie that warrants lengthy discussion and interpretation. however, for the first time in a long time, I found myself back in the theater, right back where I started with media criticism, wanting to be wowed. Was I wowed? Why, yes I was. But now, for a little context on the movie you’re reading about, if you’re unaware of its existence:
“Okay, you cunts… let’s see what you’ve got!”
This short and to the point line is, in Kick-Ass, delivered by a 13-year-old girl in a purple wig and a plaid skirt. Cute? Very, especially since she proceeds to execute a room full of giant angry crazy druggies with guns. Though the movie may be the story of pathetic motherfucker Dave Lizewski’s (Brilliantly played by Aaron Johnson) alter-ego, the movie truly belongs to Hit-Girl.
If you are unaware of the film, here’s what’s going on:
Dave Lizewski is your normal comic-book-loving, bully-beaten, awkward-around-girls-and-masturbates-to-African-tribeswomen teenage boy. One day, after having his money stolen for the umpteenth time, he decides that he should put on a spandex suit and start taking the law into his own hands. And so, Lizewski becomes the triumphant Kick-Ass. And things for him begin to go…almost more poorly than before. When he tries to fight crime for the first time, he’s stabbed in the stomach and hit by a speeding car, leaving him with damaged nerve endings and metal in his body. Oh yeah, and the girl of his dreams befriends him because she thinks he’s gay. So there’s that, too.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, down-for-the-count ex-cop Damon Macready (Nicolas Cage, perfectly in his element after Bad Lieutenant) is about to shoot a pre-teen girl in a pink winter coat in the chest from 20 feet away. “Is this going to hurt?” The girl asks. “It’ll hurt about as much as being punched in the chest!” he tells her before firing. She drops to the ground. What just happened? You’re thinking if you haven’t seen the trailers (get on this shit, really!) After pulling the bullets out of her Kevlar vest, she stands up and tells him that he’s going to have to buy her ice cream if he’s going to shoot her again.
The spirit of Kick-Ass wears its heart and its influences on its sleeve, a trait that sets it apart from almost every superhero film of the last decade, and possibly ever. Ultimately, the antagonists introduced as the larger evil do give a glimpse of what their true motives are, even Chris D’Amico, the son of our Big Bad, the coke-selling crime lord Frank D’Amico, who just wants his father to pay attention to the fact that he’s alive. Eventually we find that Damon’s reasons for teaching his daughter to wield guns and blades as effectively as possible are to allow her to help take down the operation responsible for his fall from grace in the police department. This story may be the most well-done moment of the movie, tugging on your heartstrings ever so gently while you learn about Damon and Mindy’s back-story, in comic book form.
As said, this movie belongs to Hit-Girl and Big Daddy, who put on the best and most affecting show here. They prove to be a lot of the heart of the film, and Cage actually makes you, in a rare turn, feel a lot for his character, who, above all else, wants to bring down the people who are responsible for everything that’s happened in the last 15 years of his life. The chemistry between he and the young Chloë Grace Moretz practically leaps off of the screen, stealing the show from the title character entirely.
Kick-Ass is tremendously violent, the colors are saturated to the brink of insanity, and there’s so much blood and guts that you could very well feel a little queasy after the film’s first true bloodbath. But most importantly, there wasn’t a point in the movie where I felt that it was going on too long. The events herein are timed absolutely flawlessly, and there’s never a point where it gives away its two-hour storyline; it’s a lot of information, but everything would be just as comfortable if it were an hour longer. I never, at any moment, felt the urge to check my watch, which so many movies these days do.
So, did Kick-Ass “deliver”? In short, fuck yeah it did. It’s the kind of film that makes me remember why I’ve always loved going to the movies, and why I love talking about them. It may not become an instant classic, but it should. It may not do the job of picking apart superheroes the way Alan Moore’s Watchmen did, but it does the same job of putting a spotlight on the silliness of everything, and lets you smile at how absurd everything is, without forcing you to suspend your disbelief. And that’s worth sitting through “The Twenty” for.