Posted by: Paul | November 28, 2010

Kick Ass

Finally got round to watching Kick Ass last night, having borrowed the blu-ray from my brother quite some time ago!

The central conceit of the movie is that a high school geek, Dave Lizewski, fed up with getting robbed and being generally unexceptional in life, wonders aloud to his friends why no-one influenced by superhero comics and culture has had a go at being a superhero themselves. Not suddenly developing special powers, you understand, just dressing up in a daft costume and helping people. Like a masked vigilante. Here it shares a source idea with the excellent Watchmen, in that in the beginning the Minutemen, Watchmen’s original group of masked vigilantes, were just ordinary people who were fed up with doing nothing and decided to take a stand against crime. So Dave orders a natty green wetsuit from the internet, makes himself a mask and sets out to right suburban New York’s wrongs.

His first altercation – with the guys who consistently robbed him on the way home from school – result in him being so badly beaten that he’s left with pins, plates and metal splints all over his body, and enough nerve damage that he barely feels any pain. Somewhat emboldened by this side effect, he tries again – and in a fight with three guys where nothing which knocks him down prevents him from getting up again, a bystander records the fight, posts it on YouTube and overnight he’s an internet sensation, achieving the popularity for his ‘Kick Ass’ persona that the real Dave never achieved.

Meanwhile, a wronged ex-cop and his highly-trained daughter are gradually offing mafia henchmen all over the city, with the aim of avenging the death of his wife. When their paths cross with Kick Ass and the mafia boss thinks it’s geeky Dave killing all his men, they have to band together in order to try to bring the violence to an end.

Essentially a riff on the superhero genre, especially sending up Spider-Man, Kick Ass is a lot of fun. It is, however, excessively violent. This is not Scott Pilgrim style computer game violence where enemies explode in a shower of coins – Hit Girl in particular exacts very bloody vengence on the crooks. This caused a bit of a stir on release – the character is about 11 years old and uses the C-word in almost her first on-screen appearance, which sent the Daily Mail brigade up the wall. That was a bit unneccessary, I thought – but Chloe Grace Moretz’s parents must have read the script before giving their consent to their daughter playing such a foul mouthed character responsible for so many deaths and so much violence in the movie. The role works though, and to me the movie belongs to Hit Girl – she steals every single scene and is the source of most of the film’s big laughs.

Whether you will enjoy Kick Ass will depend much on what you think of the idea of an eleven year old girl disembowelling a room full of drug dealers and swearing like a trooper. If you find that idea funny then there is a great deal to like about the movie – it’s genuinely funny and beautiful to look at. It’s also very sweet in places, and the lightness of touch and tone throughout strikes just the right balance, the comedy trumps the shlocky violence in the end. But if it was my daughter? Hmmm, not sure how I’d feel about it then!

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