Dave Lizewski is an average teen. He's socially awkward, doesn't have many friends, loves comic books, and masturbates way too much! His love of comics is a driving force in his life, leading him to wonder why no one ever tried to be a superhero before. Ignoring his friends comments that anyone who tried would be dead in a day, Dave buys a wetsuit online and takes on the persona of masked vigilante Kick-Ass. After his first job goes horrendously wrong, Dave lands in the hospital, where the doctors fix his broken bones with metal, leading to Dave to comment, "Awesome! I'm like Wolverine." He also suffers incredible nerve damage, making him pretty much oblivious to pain. With his new found "powers", Dave goes back out and continues his exploits, and ends up becoming a YouTube sensation. This causes some other masked vigilantes to come out of hiding, and soon, Dave is teaming up with them in order to take down a powerful drug lord. The story is pretty much ripped from the pages of the Mark Millar graphic novel. As far as faithful adaptations go, this one nicely treads the middle ground between full on copying of the source material (Watchmen), and deviating from it so much that it's barely recognizable (Wanted). It's a good story, with interesting characters, and a twist that, while incredibly predictable, is nicely executed.
There are a lot of star making performances here, not the least of which is Aaron Johnson as Dave/Kick-Ass. He's been getting a lot of buzz in the festival circuit for playing John Lennon in Nowhere Boy, but this is going to the be the film that introduces him to mainstream America. Thank God he's good. He supplies the movie with some real heart, as well some serious laughs. Kick-Ass is not the most competent of fighters, and Johnson's optimism throughout the film is hysterical. The biggest star in the making on display here is Chloe Moretz as the badass, foul mouthed, sword weilding Mindy Macready/Hit-Girl. You may remember Moretz as Joseph Gordon-Levitt's philosophical sister in (500) Days of Summer. This role could not be more different from that one. Any innocence that Moretz possessed has been tossed out the window. As Hit-Girl, Moretz decapitates people, shoots them in the head, leaps across roofs, runs up walls, and uses words that no 11 year old should even know the meaning of. She's a righteous hoot, but the film makers were smart and didn't try to kiddie her up at all. In the comic, the fact that this 11 year old girl is going around, killing hordes of people was supposed to be uncomfortable. You'll laugh uproariously as Moretz slices and dices, but you'll feel like a bastard for doing so. Moretz plays it straight and does a bang up job doing it. Other performances include Nicolas Cage, in a good role for a change, as Batman clone Big Daddy, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, finally breaking out of his McLovin mold, as the shady Red Mist, and Mark Strong, impressing us yet again, as the brutal drug lord, Frank D'Amico. The performances here are a lot better then we would have been led to believe, given the genre that this movie is a part of.
Director Matthew Vaughn, best known for re-legitimizing the British gangster film with Layer Cake, takes the helm here, and he is more then capable. He didn't have that much to work with, as the entire movie was financed by his studio, but, he handles the budget constraints quite well, so that you can't really tell that the movie was made for less money then others in the genre. As perviously mentioned, Vaughn doesn't kiddie up this story at all, despite how the advertisements make it appear. People who go in expecting some sort of light, funny satire are in for a surprise. This movie is funny, to be sure, but it is not light at all. It gets into some pretty dark territory at the end, and this is only helped by the brutality of the violence. Oh yeah, this is one violent movie, but it's the kind of brutal violence that is meant to thrill and entertain; it's not realistic at all. Just watch the ridiculousness that is the final action scene, and you'll get my meaning. This is a parody of serious superhero stories, like Watchmen, Superman, or Batman, so it goes way over the top in every aspect. Like I said, it's vulgar, depraved, and violent as all holy hell! But, that's not a bad thing. Every aspect here is so absurd, that going any other route would not have worked.
In the end though, what Kick-Ass is, is a comedy. This is a funny movie! The performances are funny; the writing is funny, the scenarios are funny. You'll laugh a lot at this film, from the stupidity of Dave, to the confusion of D'Amico, to Big Daddy's ridiculously hysterical interpretation of a Batman voice. It's been sold as a comedy, and it's a damn good one. It's not perfect, but, compared to that other action flick playing right now, it's hard to pass up on. It's a whole bunch of shocking, senseless violence. Just the way you like it! B+