Kick-Ass Movie Review - Mania.com



Mania Grade: A-

Maniac Grade: A

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  • Starring: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Chloë Grace Moretz, Xander Berkeley, and Jason Flemyng
  • Written By: Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn
  • Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
  • Series:

Kick-Ass Movie Review

Kick-Ass: You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Try This…

By Rob Vaux     April 14, 2010


 
I walked into Kick-Ass expecting a superhero parody, something akin to Mystery Men or The Tick. I'm fond of both those endeavors and the prospect of adding another satirical riff to their ranks held considerable appeal. But Kick-Ass has more on its mind than just sending up the capes and tights. In its own lunatic way, it seriously grapples with the foundations of the genre and how some of us want very badly to see some inkling of them in the real world. In that sense, it aspires to something much closer to Watchmen, and while it doesn't quite rank with that work, it certainly gets within shouting distance.
 
And it's definitely not for kids, no matter how colorful the ads may seem. Its costumed heroes--an eclectic mix of the hopeful, the deluded and the barking mad--live in a world where violence is all too real. Hardly the place to don a bright green wetsuit and confront street criminals. But that's just what earnest teen Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) does. Obsessed with comic books and curious as to why nobody's tried it before, he invents a persona called Kick-Ass and heads out into the New York night to battle evildoers everywhere.
 
It doesn't go so well, at least at first. The good news is that he's so badly hurt in his initial outing that the doctors need to stabilize his bones with steel rods (making him much tougher), and the nerve damage renders him somewhat less sensitive to pain. It still doesn't do more than let him take a beating with good cheer, but he keeps at it and soon becomes an Internet phenomenon thanks to some eager bystanders with iPhones.
 
As sympathetic as he is, however, director Matthew Vaughn saves the choicest morsels for another pair. Ex-cop Damon Macready (Nicholas Cage) has a score to settle with the mob, and he's prepping his daughter Mindy (Chloë Grace Moretz) to serve as his angel of vengeance. They carry a fully-loaded arsenal, know hand-to-hand combat better than most Navy SEALS, and adopt a pair of superhero personas to keep their identities safe. As Big Daddy and Hit Girl, the pair cut a swath of bloody destruction through the local underworld… and unfortunately, the thoroughly unprepared Kick-Ass gets most of the blame.
 
Their escapades encapsulate a mixture of exhilaration, empowerment, queasy violence and abject pathos, blended together and thrown at us like a hand grenade. As a balancing act, it's exquisite. Put one foot wrong and it all goes to pot, and yet both the director and the performers dive into the challenge without a second thought. Cage always goes for broke in the roles he takes, and while he can't always claim success, those few occasions where he rolls a seven are wonders to behold. So it is with Big Daddy, a deeply damaged figure who warps his daughter to the point where she thinks the brutality is all a game. His persona is pure Adam West caricature (right down to the weird inflection of his dialogue) and yet he holds real tragedy at his core.
 
Hit Girl intensifies that equation even further. She has no moral compass, and her "training" allows her to kill with cheerfully ruthless efficiency. The sight of a little girl butchering drug dealers with a machete will send more than a few viewers into spasms of rage, and yet Kick-Ass never forgets how thoroughly warped it is. Vaughn blends her harsh edges with a bizarre playfulness, as well as shining an uncomfortable spotlight on how we often adore such figures. Were Hit Girl an adult, we'd applaud her; how, then, can we feel so sick just because she's a few years too young?
 
As battle between costumed crime fighters and their criminal nemeses heats up, Kick-Ass serves as our goggle-eyed surrogate. Like Mickey and the broomsticks, he can't control what he's started, and yet he still sees the possibility of good things emerging from this twisted mess. Vaughn doesn't neglect the funnier side of the equation--I was laughing so hard at parts of Kick-Ass, I thought I was going to pass out on the theater floor--but just as often, he runs the humor straight into a brick wall of sad, sudden consequences.
 
Beneath it all, the film stays focused on fascinating questions. What would possess someone to do this? Are these people truly insane, or do they simply want to make the world a better place as their funnybook counterparts do? Is there a line where dressing up for Comic Con can verge into something much darker? Kick-Ass adopts a brazen, energetic and unapologetic tone in search of the answers, simultaneously upending the genre and championing everything it stands for. Considering how easily it all could have fallen apart, its overall deftness is a welcome surprise. Indeed, Vaughn's willingness to push the edges of the equation vaults Kick-Ass into the upper echelons of the very genre it wishes to deconstruct. Let's see Superman do that.

Kick-Ass Movie Premiere

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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superrichtheman 4/14/2010 4:26:50 PM

Agree with this review. Saw it and it was surprising how good it was.  Nic Cage (hate to say it) and Hit Girl steal this movie.  Good stuff.

asromatifoso 4/14/2010 4:30:18 PM

 Great review!  I am definitely seeing it this weekend.  I was going to anyway but the stellar review cements it for me.  It sounds smart, funny, and action-packed.

violator14 4/14/2010 4:46:08 PM

Wow an A from Rob?!! I was gonna see this anyway cuz Gauley and others has been raving about it for weeks now, but after this review, i might just see it tonight!!

gauleyboy420 4/15/2010 12:25:05 AM

Great review Rob (not just cause I agree Kick-Ass is a wonderful flick) but I enjoyed you tackling the Hit girl "controversy" that shouldn't exist, you did it with poise, and it's an intelligent argument to those rallying against her character.

I love the aliteration (did I use that word correctly?) to Mickey in the Sorcerer's Apprentice.

This movie is great for a number of reasons, Rob hit upon most of them, but is also great because it knows what it wants to be, and is what it says it is.

 

KICK-ASS!

 

p.s. I didn't expect Rob to rate it so high, but it definitely deserves it

Darkknight2280 4/15/2010 4:25:50 AM

Yeah i will be seeign this tomorrow night! Cant wait!

Wiseguy 4/15/2010 6:44:47 AM

So now Rob is a good critic cause he gave this an A? Guess all those insults he got over time were unwarranted, lol, wow what a reversal of opinion

HunterRose 4/15/2010 6:45:15 AM

Hit Girl being young makes us sick for being violent? Rage? I don't know about you, but after seeing the scene where she takes out the roomful of thugs I was as giddy as a schoolgirl. That scene was awesome and I can't wait to see more Hit Girl violence!!!

ponyboy76 4/15/2010 7:49:32 AM

I can count on one hand how many reviews of Rob's I have agreed with, but this is one of  them. He pretty much hit all the right points. I even agree about the feeling a little uneasy with Hit Girl. Don't get me wrong, I loved every knife throwing gun totting second of it, but there was also a sadness. She reminded me of
X-23, except that her father did love her. She's kind of the most  tragic character in Kick-Ass.

Cage was great as Big Daddy. At some points even kind of creepy, but awesome nonetheless.

Definitely a full A grade

gauleyboy420 4/15/2010 10:26:48 AM

Wiseguy,

It's good to see your biased disdain for Kick-Ass has also rendered your ability to read useless.

I NEVER said in this review that "Rob is a good critic" and niether did anyone else. What was said was this was a good review, well written and not biased (as sometimes Rob's reviews are, at least they seem that way). He brought up good points and didn't just say "It's good movie" or "It was awful"

I DON'T agree with Rob's revies most of the time, WHICH is why I pointed out the things I liked about this review, and didn't say "I like this review, cause I liked this movie"

Also, I think we can all admit Rob is a hardass, he rarely gives an A grade, and when he does, it's usually warranted.

c'mon! Read the post Wiseguy... ;)

Go see the movie Wise, It's not Avatar, it's not tryng to take away Cameron's big Blue glory, but it's awesome, you're allowed to like more than one movie ;)

gauleyboy420 4/15/2010 1:54:45 PM

Dude, You all but mentioned my name, AND Like I said this review was well written and without any obvious bias. See the clash of the titans review if you want to see what I'm talking about.

I don't like all of Robs Reviews, BUT this was well written, thats not ass kissing thats the truth and my opinion. Why the Fukk would I kiss a guys ass who can do absolutely nothing for me, and I don't even know. Thats ignorant.

It's funny that when people agree they can give compliments? Okay Thats pretty much everyone in the world. Hell I despise 90% of garbage that comes out of Bill O'Reilly's mouth, BUT if he makes a good point that I agree with (which happens from time to time) I will give him credit for it, I WON'T argue for the sake of arguing. I DO think Rob grades movies and shows VERY harshly, and what that says to me is that this is a damn fine movie if he's gonna give it an A

So If I don't like a review, and then like a review I should stay in the mindset of the review I didn't like? Is that what your saying? Thats the stupid close mindedness that is killing this country.

 

Yeah I'm a little pissed, I don't kiss ANYONES ass, so stuff it.

And yeah I brtought up your golden god Cameron, you defended him for months against people and promoted him as hard as I'm promoting Kick-Ass, but I never gave you shit about it. I recognized you really liked Avatar (even before it's release) and it actually got me more excited to see it. Instead of picking at your love for him.

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