Thursday, 25 March 2010

Kick Ass

Opening with a flight through clouds as the titles rush at you and a score that sounds an awful lot like John Williams’ Superman score, Kick Ass appears to be going straight for the classic superhero start. We zoom down onto a man in a bright outfit, shu-shuck wings open, people on the ground stare in wonder. He dives from the roof, down, down, the music swells, at any moment he’s going to soar!
Well, no. One destroyed taxi and little mocking voice-over later and it’s quite clear this isn’t your every day superhero movie.

Kick Ass looks a lot like the other comic book movies being made, the colours are bright and primary, the costumes extravagant – except for Kick Ass’, we’ll get to that – and yet, beyond the look of it, there’s something unlike any of the other superhero movies out there.
When Dave (soon to be known as Kick Ass) asks his friends why no-one has ever tried being a superhero he’s told in no uncertain terms that it’s because they’d get the shit kicked out of them.
Undeterred, he buys himself a green wetsuit, a couple of batons and goes out to fight crime. On his first attempt he ends up in intensive care.
When he gets out he resolves to do better and here’s where the plot starts to kick in.
We are introduced to Damon MacReady and his little daughter, Mindy in the strangest fashion you are likely to see, as Daddy shoots his little girl so she’ll know what taking a bullet to the chest feels like and won’t be scared. Yup, this is the intro to the character all the advertising is being built around, Hit Girl.
Now, why is all the advertising being built around her? Well, the film might be called Kick Ass, but you are going to come away thinking Hit Girl.

Nicolas Cage does a fine job a Big Daddy, his costume looks to have come from The Dark Knight, but the voice, it’s a pure homage to Adam West’s incarnation of Batman and it works beautifully. The character has the obligatory tragic back story, but it’s his love and pride for his violent child that will endear him to you.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin!) does a solid job as Chris/Red Mist. His motivations for getting dressed in a costume are unlike the others and I won’t spoil it here. As a character he gets a little bit of a short shrift and doesn’t really get the scenes to really show his acting chops. There’s a hint at the end that he may well get the chance if this does well enough for a sequel.
Mark Strong as the Mob Boss, Frank, does his usual sterling work, taking what could just be a generic mob boss, complete with relapse into coke habit, and making him shine. Delivering lines with venom and humour, he’s probably the films most unsung hero so far.
Aaron Johnson as Dave Lizewski/Kick Ass does a solid job at the film’s centre. He gives a performance that’s believable and real. His terror and fear as things keep getting worse is completely believable.
The actor walking away with all the plaudits is Chloe Moretz as Mindy/Hit Girl, and rightly so. She steals absolutely every scene she’s in. From messing with her Dad by asking for a puppy and not weaponry to taking out a corridor full of gangsters she just holds your attention. It’s helped by the fact that she’s got most of the best lines and action sequences to herself. But again, it’s the loving bond between her and Cage that really make the films emotional centre.

But any big movie like this stands or falls on its action sequences, all of the above could be brilliant, but if the action was rubbish, it wouldn’t matter. Happily this is not the case. The three major heroes all have their own fighting styles and they are filmed in similar ways.
When Kick Ass fights it’s all wild flailing and hoping just to connect and not get too much shit beaten out of him. Just like anyone without training does. The camera goes with this in hand held, somewhat confusing, but deliberately so framing. Never so much that you can’t tell what is going on, just enough to disorient you like Kick Ass is.
Big Daddy is all business, one shot here, stomping and powerful. The direction here is smooth and clean, professional.
But the best is once again Hit Girl, she’s high speed, full octane and the scenes reflect this. Faster cuts, crazier angles as she bounces off of walls, these are the real action highlights.

The film is also very funny, from a young girl swearing to the bazooka gag there’s a great deal to laugh at here.

So then, is it worth watching? Worth plonking your hard earned down to see at the cinema?
A resounding yes. I’ll be going to see this again and I recommend it to you all.

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