Friday, June 21, 2013

"Kick-Ass": the two-paragraph review

"Kick-Ass" is a 2010 superhero comedy directed by Matthew Vaughn and starring Aaron Taylor-Jackson as the eponymous protag and narrator, Dave Lizewski/Kick-Ass. Dave is a high-school nonentity: as he tells us in his opening narration, his own power is that he's invisible to girls. Oh, and he masturbates a lot. It's a setup right out of a 1980s teen flick, but unlike the typical sad-sack 80s nerd, Dave has big dreams: upset by the fact that everyone, at some point, wants to become a superhero, but no one ever follows through with that dream, he simply decides, one day, to suit up and become Kick-Ass. His efforts are halting and he doesn't accomplish much, but things change when he crosses paths with Hit-Girl/Mindy (Chloë Grace Moretz), a vicious eleven-year-old trained in the fighting arts by her ex-cop father, Damon Macready (Nicolas Cage), who also suits up in Batman-style body armor and calls himself Big Daddy. As a cop, Big Daddy had spent years pursuing crime boss Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong), but after Macready was framed and jailed, losing his wife in the process, he devoted his life after prison to turning his daughter into a killing machine as ruthless as he was. Kick-Ass feels intimidated after his encounter with this pair, but he ultimately helps them in their quest to take the evil D'Amico down. D'Amico has a gawky son, Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who finds himself in the awkward position of Kick-Ass's friend and betrayer. 

Like Bruce Lee's "Enter the Dragon," "Kick-Ass" has no countdown clock to increase suspense. This is primarily a coming-of-age story woven into a revenge drama, and it generally works well. The script is tight, the plot holes are minimal, and the violence is easily as ridiculous as the hilarious carnage in Clive Owen's gut-busting "Shoot 'Em Up." As other reviewers have noted, "Kick-Ass" isn't shy about putting kids in harm's way, or about depicting children (Hit-Girl in particular) committing horrifying atrocities with guns and blades. In the scene that introduces us to Chloë Grace Moretz's character, Mindy Macready gets shot in the chest three times by her father, who has fitted her with a flak jacket and who wants her to understand what a bullet impact feels like. (Mindy's birthday present later that day: a pair of Filipino balisong knives.) I thought the movie was funny and action-packed, and after some initial queasiness about all the violence against and by children, I decided to switch off that part of my brain and just roll with the plot. Still, I winced when Mark Strong's Frank D'Amico nailed little Hit-Girl in the head with a reverse turning kick toward the end of the movie. "Kick-Ass" straddles multiple genres and comes dangerously close to sexualizing minors; it also violates any number of taboos with Hit-Girl, who is as foul-mouthed as she is deadly. But all of that is part of this quirky movie's brutal, bloody charm, and I recommend it as an entertaining way to spend two hours. Hats off to Chloë Grace Moretz for having learned how to handle such a large variety of weapons and fighting styles.


Dan O. said...

Good review Kevin. It's one of those movies that felt like it was going to be a parody of a superhero flick, and nothing but that, however, it surprised the hell out of me. It was smart, fun, entertaining, and very dark in it's view of violence and the mass-media's effect on it. Can't wait to see the sequel!

Kevin Kim said...

Thanks, Dan. Yeah, I'm pumped to see KA2 as well.

John from Daejeon said...

It won't be long now. It comes out in August in the states. South Korea might be a different story though as K-A 2 doesn't have the name recognition that the big U.S. comic book heroes have.

Chloe will also be starring in the "Carrie" re-make starting October 18th, but since that date was pushed back from March 15th, 2013, it does not bode too well as to the film's quality.