By Shannon Hood
Reprinted from the SXSW Film Festival, 3/14/2010
Make no mistake about it, Chloe Moretz (500 Days of Summer) owns this movie. She may only be 11 years old, but her performance as Hit-Girl is spunky, sassy, and exciting. Hit-Girl is poised to become a new comic cult icon, and Kick-Ass is quite simply a rollicking good time.
At one of the panels I attended this weekend, someone likened Kick-Ass to a comic type Pulp Fiction, which I would say is a pretty accurate description. British Actor Aaron Johnson plays Dave Lizewski, a nerdy high school type whose only interaction with the popular kids is when he brushes up against one at his locker.
One day out of the blue he decides he is going to become a vigilante superhero. He concocts a hideous green costume that resembles a wet suit, sets up a social media homepage for his alter ego, and starts “training.” When someone asks his name, he proudly proclaims, “I’m Kick-Ass!”
Completely inept and not blessed with any actual powers, Dave gets the living crap beat out of him by a few thugs mere moments after his official debut as Kick-Ass. This results in a multitude of injuries requiring steel plates and rods being placed throughout his body, which makes him a little more impervious to injury, but still not in possession of actual powers.
After the accident, Dave is more determined than ever to be a superhero, so he doubles his training efforts, and fares much better on his second outing as Kick-Ass. A random person videotapes his take-down of some criminals, and the video is placed on YouTube, making Kick-Ass an overnight celebrity. A media frenzy develops when everyone is trying to find out who Kick-Ass really is.
Of course, since Dave is still a mere mortal, when he finds himself in mortal danger, Hit-Girl shows up with her father Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage in the best role he has had in decades) and saves the day.
You then get the back story on Hit-Girl, who has basically been indoctrinated from a very young age to become a vigilante superhero by her eccentric single dad (Nicholas Cage), who can’t stand missing out on the action, and dresses up as “Big Daddy,” a cross between Batman and Nite Owl from Watchmen.
The scenes between Big Daddy and Hit-Girl are quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. They are equal parts hilarious, and disturbing. The fact that Moretz is so young and portraying this cursing, murderous hellcat is disconcerting, but sort of awesome, but you feel kind of icky for thinking it is awesome.
Christopher Mintze-Plasse (McLovin from Superbad) plays Red Mist, the son of the man that has served as the impetus for Big Daddy’s vigilantism, and eventually suits up as a rival to Kick-Ass.
Director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake) was not beholden to studio restrictions because he was turned down by every major studio when he pitched this film. The result is a hyper-violent action/gore mashup with a wicked sense of humor. The action sequences are complemented by a great soundtrack (Joan Jett singing “Bad Reputation” will never really be the same) and innovative editing.
As for the kills, they are amongst the most creative I’ve ever seen. This movie just feels fresh and fun, and I really can’t imagine that it won’t be one of my favorites come year end.
If you liked Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, or Watchmen, you will love Kick-Ass and its new cast of anti-heroes. Fly, don’t walk, to see this when it hits theaters next month.