Sunday, September 2, 2012

149. KICK-ASS (2010)

Based on the comic book by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. (which I have not read), I found this film by Matthew Vaughn extremely disagreeable. Being disenchanted with the tone of contemporary superhero films in the first place, and increasingly contemptuous of what appears to be their general purpose, I found KICK-ASS almost analogous to a catalogue of my reasons why. The residual effect of this film is to discourage imagination, to equate heroism with lawlessness and aggression, to pervert idealism, and to encourage audiences to feel entertained by the psychological corruption and ultimately physical abuse of an innocent.

Aaron Johnson is the star of this movie, about a comic book fan named Dave Lizewski who decides to become a powerless but idealistic masked crimefighter called Kick-Ass, but it is effectively stolen from him by an extraordinarily charismatic and capable performance by Chloe Grace Moretz (pictured) as Hit Girl, a pre-teen trained to become a crimefighter by a frankly psychotic father who, in his Batman-like suit and Adam West voice, is known as Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage). Under his younger colleague's tutelage, Kick-Ass acquires some chops he's sadly lacking from the get-go, but his naïveté trips him up when he is charmed into accepting another wannabe, Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), as a sidekick -- not realizing that he is actually the son of local crime boss Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong), intent on setting him up and taking him down.

Even though Hit Girl is shown giving as good as she gets, for the most part, the grand finale becomes sickening as she lies helpless on the floor of D'Amico's office, bloodied and helpless to ward off his punches and kicks. When the action sequences are set to manic speedfreak music cues, Vaughn equates what these kids are endangering their lives for with mere cartoonishness and visceral sensation, and when he references Morricone's FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE score, it feels rather too Entry Level an attempt to ape Tarantino. I'm not interested enough to write about it at greater length; suffice to say, I found all its emotions to be misplaced and counterproductive. Naturally, there's a sequel coming to your local Ludovico Clinic.

Viewed via Netflix.


  1. This is just as mind numbing as that other Millar adaptation - Wanted.

  2. I'm very happy you disliked this as much as I did. It's an ugly film in every sense, and I find it dispiriting that there's so much support for it [and for the opportunistic, lowbrow Vaughn as a director].

  3. Interesting take on the film, Tim. Just one slight correction, the Morricone tune Vaughn uses near the climax is the theme to FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, not TGTBATU - though your point remains equally valid.

  4. Thanks for the correction, Jeff, which I've incorporated.