Rarely has a film lived up to its title so well. Producer turned director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust) adapts Mark Millar's comic, Kick-Ass, to absolute glory. It is a shot of pure adrenaline, with enough twists and shocks to make you thirst for the inevitable sequel. The plot, at first, seems fairly simple. Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is your average Queens, New York high school nerd. Girls don't have a clue he exists. He spends his time waxing comic book poetic with his equally geeky friends. One average day, after masturbating to thoughts of his well-endowed English teacher, Dave has the bright idea of becoming a costumed hero. Why not? He's sick of being bullied and decides to take a stand for what's right in the world.
Dave's venture into costumed heroism results in a near death beatdown. He pops up on the radar of a real vigilante father/daughter (Nicolas Cage, Chloe Moretz) team hell-bent on destroying the local cocaine kingpin (Mark Strong). This pair is no joke. They've been slaughtering baddies en masse for weeks, only to have the media and villain attribute their work to Dave's costumed alter-ego, Kick-Ass. The plot swerves in an unexpected direction when the kingpin's son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) comes to the aid of his father by donning his own costume; to infiltrate the vigilantes and uncover Kick-Ass's secret identity.
First and foremost, this is a hard-R rated film. There is nothing cartoonish or childlike about the violence. Parents around the country are going to be in arms when they mistakenly take their kids to see a film with a bunch of teenage superheroes. It is unrepentantly violent, with enough cursing and blood to satisfy the most depraved action fan. The most alarming perpetrator of this bloodlust is the eleven year old killing machine that is Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz). Seriously, no child, in the history of Hollywood feature films, has been this brutal on screen. She is the deadliest character in the film and swears like a drunken sailor. Matthew Vaughn, his co-writer Jane Goldman, and comic creator/executive producer Mark Millar are going to be lynched in the media over this character.
I firmly believe that any moral uproar over the Hit Girl character is entirely misplaced. This is a restricted film. The rating and description, clearly visible in every poster and advertisement is warning enough in my opinion. Idiotic parents taking their kids to see adult material is not the fault of Matthew Vaughn or the filmmakers. This is a work of art, cinematic fiction adapted from a graphic novel. Also, the lascivious violence fits perfectly into the character arc of Hit Girl. Her father has turned her into an elite fighter. This is what she was bred to do. For her to take it easy, or to show mercy, is out of the question in this story. I applaud the filmmakers for not toning it down. Cinema cannot be tempered to the views of any group. If you find something offensive, don't watch it, plain and simple.
The pace of Kick-Ass is pitch perfect. Vaughn and his editing team know the value of their screenplay. They've got great source material, and cut the film to allow each character to have their moment in the sun. Couple that with the fine acting and you've got synergy. Casting is key to Kick-Ass. Aaron Johnson and Chloe Moretz sell a story that is so outlandish; it may have looked cartoonish in lesser actor's hands.
Kick-Ass works on pure entertainment value. I can honestly say I was at rapt attention for every second of the movie. It was totally unpredictable, but kept the twists in the context of the story; so nothing really comes out of left field. Matthew Vaughn has taken a quantum leap in my book. If he has the cojones to pull Kick-Ass off, then we can expect greatness from his next comic adaptation, Thor.