Tired of watching innocent people get hurt, an awkward high school boy takes justice into his own hands, invents a super- hero persona he calls Kick Ass, and heads off to fight crime. Even though it is a bit bumpy in places, the cheeky nature of combat makes Kick Ass a fun use of a couple hours.
Late blooming high schooler Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) can’t seem to catch a break. Bullies make easy work of him. Frustrated with the abuse and injustice, Dave goes vigilante and becomes Kick Ass. His self-promoted celebrity does not go unnoticed by Mindy (Chloe Moretz) and Damon Macready (Nicholas Cage); a well trained father-daughter vigilante team armed to the teeth. Kick Ass’s interludes into crime fighting also catches the attention of a local crime boss, Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong).
All of us have felt the sting of injustice or have felt relegated to the humiliating circle of helplessness. I’d guess that 99.9% of us wanted to take action to correct it but because of the law or maybe just plain cowardice we took one for the “let’s be civilized” team. Kick Ass lets us play revisionist history and play out our butt kicking fantasies from the safety of a theater seat; good and bad.
Kick Ass is a pretty sincere look at what might happen if average folk went out and tried to stop criminals. Yes, it is wrapped in outlandish comedy, and sometimes over the top non-sensery but it is not a candy coated adventure for Dave. Things go terribly wrong. He screws up. Usually it’s a matter of passing importance, but occasionally, the mistake is immeasurable.
For the most part though, his dalliance into super heroism is a giggle-coaxing charm. His hero warm-ups are classic. His girl troubles are a relatable snicker-inducing mess and prove, yet again, that boys will do anything for sex.
On the other hand Mindy and Damon’s emotions run deep; their motivations are scars in their history. They have dedicated a great deal of their life’s energy to revenge and the utter destruction of their enemies. Their story has little levity, but gives weight to Kick Ass, even when he is unaware. The atypical parental relationship is tender, in a strangely brutal way.
The writing for both Damon and Mindy borders on displeasing, often not campy enough to throw it over the edge, but too campy to be taken seriously. There are no easy, unobstructed moments between the two.
My major complaint about Kick Ass is that it doesn’t merge the emotion of the two concurrent plot lines well enough. The Mindy-Damon story attempts to be heartbreaking and multi-faceted, but really only blossoms into a slightly more complex motive. When they finally meet, they still seem like they are running next to each other, not with each other.
There are no shortage of hand to hand combat and gun fights in this flick. The close quarter fight scenes made me feel like I was dodging fists. The weapons discussions, between allies and enemies, will make even the most hardened audience member laugh out loud. The final combat sequence is worth sneaking into the theater to see alone.
Kick Ass has one huge plus: a girl hero with her clothes on. Yes, she is a sailor-mouthed elementary school student. Yes, her childhood was unconventional. Yes, she is bad ass. Kick Ass proves that girls can kick down doors, shoot guns, swear and kick the stuffing out of villains without risk of wardrobe malfunction. Take note, other directors and writers, girls in clothing don’t just get raped or beaten up; they can also rat-a-tat-tat yo ass.
Kick Ass probably won’t go down as a classic comedy or superhero movie, but it sure is a fun way to spend a couple of hours. Giving yourself a brief glimpse of your superhero career and a few good laughs is worth the price of the ticket.