Review: Kick Ass

CHLOE MASHITER: ‘The infectious fun of Kick-Ass will mean you spend most of that time fighting the urge to adapt a couple of night sticks, grab a mask, and slip into something a little more questionable.’

Aaron Johnson Chloe Grace Moretz Matthew Vaughn Nicholas Cage

Directed by Matthew Vaughn. 

All those spandex-clad show-offs have been lying to us – you don’t actually need superpowers to be a superhero. Turns out all you need is ambition and good intentions. Oh, and a taser helps – guns too. Plus some highly skilled accomplices, maybe a bullet proof vest, jet pack, some enemies who look like they’ve never hit a target in their life… And you’ll need to remove those glasses before you even think of becoming a caped crusader: did no one ever tell you the Specsavers look just doesn’t work on superheroes? 

Despite this cinematic small print, Kick-Ass is, in short, a fantastic film. It follows average-joe Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) who decides what he needs is some skin-tight Lycra and a catchier name; one hospital trip later (leaving Dave with a reinforced skeleton and a pretty high pain threshold) Kick-Ass is born. He soon meets fellow not-so-superheroes Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage), Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) and Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) before a showdown with local crime lord Frank D’Amico. The trailers may be selling it as a peppy, poster paint coloured romp, but Kick-Ass gets darker than you expect and fully earns its 15 certificate. 

Johnson manages to convince the audience of Dave’s boundless optimism and naiveté, whilst preventing the character’s ‘I’m just a normal guy who wants to make the world a better place’ schtick from grating. The rest of the cast are impeccable, Cage dealing well with the numerous facets of Big Daddy’s character, whilst 12-year-old Moretz, who has a CV that would put an ADC thesp to shame, is excellent as foul-mouthed assassin Hit-Girl. Mintz-Plasse, of McLovin fame, ups the laughter count as him and Johnson prove to be a great comic pairing.

The film is peppered with more fight scenes than Chuck Norris’ back catalogue, but they are never once repetitive or dull, thanks to the creative choreography and camera work, and brilliant soundtrack. Even an early amateurish fight is glorious to watch when intercut with videophone and CCTV footage, while Prodigy’s ‘Omen’ blares out. Later on the film strikes just the right mix between extravagant moves -Hit-Girl improbably manipulating someone into shooting themselves – and back-to-basics tactics – D’Amico actually resorting to kicking Hit-Girl in the face. Kick-Ass remembers to keep its feet on the ground, even if it does do a bit of tiptoeing.

So why isn’t this a gleaming five star review? Because, after managing to avoid schmaltz for the vast majority of the film, it seems that the temptation eventually gets too much and Kick-Ass errs into superhero sentimentality, via gratuitous use of a jet pack. But it only loses half a star for this, since it is simply incredible how this movie gets absolutely everything else spot on – far more things than just one review can mention.

So go and see it. Then it’s just a couple of years until the inevitable – and believe me, judging by the last five seconds, it is inevitable – sequel. The infectious fun of Kick-Ass will mean you spend most of that time fighting the urge to adapt a couple of night sticks, grab a mask, and slip into something a little more questionable.