Rewind Review: Kick-Ass
As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles or reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy!
Kick-Ass had been touted by some who had seen it prior to its release as the next generation of comic book movies which is a lofty moniker to live up to and some have fallen woefully short of this expectation. Kick-Ass not only reaches this lofty praise but fair exceeds it on many levels. It is a film that takes the subgenre in a new direction bravely and boldly.
One of the biggest contributing factors to this film’s overwhelming success is the outstanding performance of its lead cast. Aaron Johnson, as the title character, delivers what is likely to a be a star-making performance. While that ability has always been apparent he has yet to have such a showcase as this. His American dialect is not only unique but completely bulletproof such that many who have recently seen him interviewed were completely unaware that he is, in fact, British.
Probably the second biggest contributing factor of the film’s success, in terms of casting, is Chloë Grace Moretz as Hit Girl. While she too recently proved herself in a smaller role in the film Diary of a Wimpy Kid she absolutely breaks out here with a film that was released later but clearly shot first. In one of the better plot devices the film employs the title character/protagonist/narrator is the least skilled of the would-be real life superheroes and it is Moretz as Hit Girl and Nicholas Cage as Big Daddy who give us the audience the jolt of the graceful, intelligent, funny and nearly infallible heroes we expect. Yet as seeing this film will prove as the events are taking place in the real New York City and not Gotham there can be grave consequences for these vigilantes.
Nicolas Cage delivers a performance in this film that once again is making me eat my words to an extent. Last year in the marginally bad film Knowing I lambasted Cage. It seems he took that film, and many in the action genre (Many of which are Bruckheimer-produced) off. It’s not an excuse for his line-ready badness at times but just a fact because in this film he was, dare I say it? Glorious. And this coming on the heels of The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. He had something here to sink his teeth into and went at it full boar and created a superhero alter ego who seemed to be the bastard child of Adam West and William Shatner and was so funny he challenged my ability to control my Coca-Cola filled bladder.
Last but certainly not least in deserving a mention is Christopher Mintz-Plasse. While he will never be able to shake being McLovin’, nor does he really want to, he was starting to run the risk of being pidgeon-holed in a very small subset of roles with this he is still in the nerd vein but he did get to stretch a little bit and does play a character with dimensions, a struggle, an arc and ambition. In another fantastic twist, which shouldn’t be that hard to do, Kick-Ass gives us the origin story first as opposed to other comic franchises who insist on backtracking towards them in spinoffs, sequels and/or reboots.
Another major element this film benefits from is the implementation of verisimilitude. By constantly giving you reminders that this film is different from others in its ilk in as much as these are real people and not aliens beings or billionaires with fancy toys the stakes are raised greatly and almost anything can happen.
It is this very verisimilitude that allows the film to hit many different notes of emotion throughout the film and also play with tone going from comedy to drama to suspense with ease and in the blink of an eye.
The facile nature of bouncing from tone to tone also allows the pace to stay steady such that when the pedal hits the metal and the film is driving towards the finish you are hooked and literally at the edge of your seat.
Another aspect in which this film separates itself and makes it somewhat different is that it also seeks to please by having our heroes have good kills. Generally this is a notion of the horror film genre when you know that the body count will be high so it’s a matter of creatively disposing of victims not so much the fact that they do die. The same applies here in this film where there are many henchman to work through before getting to the ultimate villain and the film really thought about how to fluidly and creatively have these obstacles eliminated.
One sequence towards the end where Hit Girl is in the enemy’s lair is not far off the finesse and prowess of the massive fight scenes in Kill Bill but like with that film to reduce this film to a massive bloodbath would be an injustice.
As I frequently say, and will write on shortly, I am not one for hyperbole so take the following statement as an apt comparison, due to the fact that Kick-Ass ends with Red Mist (Mintz-Plasse) reciting a line from the following film: I, not being a comic book film completist by any means, have been waiting for something like this since Batman and it is good to know that it can happen and that the exalted feeling I had leaving the movie theatre is not reserved for childhood.