“Cruising down the street in my six four”

Theatrical Release Date: 04/16/2010
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Aaron Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, Lyndsy Fonseca, Clark Duke, Evan Peters, Garrett M. Brown, Sophie Wu
Rated: R for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use – some involving children.
Runtime: 1 hour, 57 minutes

Golden Mug2010 Golden Mug

Best Adapted Screenplay (Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn)
Best Costume Design (Sammy Sheldon)


Another quiet evening in the Big Apple.

I was not blown away by Mark Millar’s last comic turned film, “Wanted“. It changed far too much from the source material, was plagued by pacing problems and if it weren’t for a handful of fun action scenes wouldn’t have been worth half the price of admission. Thankfully, the latest Millar creation to get the big screen treatment is devoid of those problems and “Kick-Ass” may prove to be the most fun you’ll have inside a theater all year.

Now, if you’ve seen the all ages trailer, you might have been worried that this would be some PG-13 watered down crapfest but rest assured, this is truly a R-rated affair. Whether it’s a host of dirty words coming out of a little girl’s mouth or a slew of thugs getting a bloody send off, the film doesn’t shy away. And like last year’s “Zombieland“, the tone and balance to the film is handled just right. Each scene blends humor into the bloody action or confidently asserts geek culture into teenagers who actually act like teenagers.

It all starts from the script, for which Jane Goldman and director Matthew Vaughn did a masterful job of remaining true to the original comics (for the most part). If you’ve read the eight issue run of the series, you know exactly what you’re getting … and that’s okay, because the film makers did such a great job of adapting the material (even better than last year’s “Watchmen“).

Artistically, aside from staying very faithful to the aesthetic in the comic book, there is also an excellent back story sequence which tells the audience how the villain (Mark Strong) screwed over Nic Cage’s character of Big Daddy and his daughter, the gun-toting, sword-slicing Hit Girl (played perfectly by Chloë Grace Moretz). This sequence is done in a 3D comic book style that works beautifully, both in relating important information but also by paying homage to the medium of the source material.

Now, in order to bring it all to life, you need great casting and from top to bottom, that’s what the filmmakers deliver. Aaron Johnson, a nice lad from across the pond, ditches his accent (without ever faltering) and dons the green scuba suit of his character’s alter ego Kick-Ass. As a well-intentioned but untrained crime fighter, Johnson grounds the character in realism and makes him someone audiences will root for but also identify with.

However, unlike Kick-Ass, Big Daddy and Hit Girl have been training. They are more than capable of clearing a room full of baddies, separating limb from limb along the way and coming out with little more than a few scratches and bruises. Cage modeled his super hero speech pattern after that of Adam West, to go along with the running joke that his character looks like Batman and it couldn’t play better. Cage is hit or very miss but here his eccentric style suits the role perfectly.

The real star of the picture though, even though her name isn’t the title, is Hit Girl. Chloë Grace Moretz is quickly making a name for herself (and giving me hope for the upcoming Hollywood remake of “Let the Right One In“). Whenever she dons the purple wig, we know that it’s time for bad guys to die. Due to her speed and size, the action is delivered in inventive, fun ways and what’s not to like about a little girl hacking off people’s limbs or emptying clips of ammo? She also plays the non-killer elements nicely, using the sarcasm and cynicism present in her other roles such as the kid sister in “(500) Days of Summer“.

Now, in order to truly make this premise work, you must have a good villain. “The Dark Knight” had Heath Ledger’s Joker while “The Fantastic Four” had Julian McMahon’s Dr. Doom … see what I mean? Here, Mark Strong plays the head of a criminal enterprise and injects the character with the right mix of stereotype, sick humor and viciousness. Whether he’s telling his bodyguard to get him popcorn and soda for a film or laying in a nasty kick to Hit Girl, Strong brings the character on the page to life.

Then there’s the last major player, Christopher Mintz-Plasse. While it’s weird to say so, McLovin’ makes for a very fun comic book villain. Although he isn’t quite what the comic book lays out for the character of Red Mist, his take on things works in the film and his souped up red Mustang is nothing short of awesome (I’ll take mine without the ‘mist’ feature though).

To go along with the great cast (and all of the supporting players are just as excellent), the music of Kick-Ass is another element than Vaughn and his team matched up to the film just right. Whether it’s something techno heavy like The Prodigy, a great use of Gnarls’ Barkley’s “Crazy” or dropping in a great piece from “28 Days Later” by composer John Murphy, it all works. There is no true score, but the cobbled together soundtrack allows for the off beat tone of the film to work and provides that extra bit of energy on already adrenaline-fueled scenes.

Simply put, this movie is “Kick-Ass” and I’m happy to award it a 5 out of 5. It delivers exactly what it intends to, doesn’t shy away from having a little girl maim and murder dozens of grown men and sticks to the source material (aside from the romantic angle which was changed and I’m still a little bitter about). If you like over the top action and just want to spend two hours getting more than your money’s worth, check this film out – but don’t be surprised if you end up wanting to go back for more.

5 out of 5