”I was just a regular guy, no radioactive spiders, no refugee status from an alien world. My only super-power was being invisible to girls,” intones Dave Lizewski at the beginning of Kick-Ass, describing his life and his main motivation for becoming a super hero.
Equipped with “just a perfect combination of optimism and naiveté”, along with a scuba diver’s wetsuit and a pair of batons ordered over the Internet, Dave sets out on his super hero career, determined to find the criminal element in his neighbourhood and kick their asses.
When he intervenes to save an immigrant from being beaten up by a pair of gang members, the two back off, as they see that a crowd of onlookers are capturing the violence with their cellphones.
Dave’s intervention goes viral on YouTube, and his reputation is made, it seems. But his incompetent swaggering is soon eclipsed by a much more sinister figure who suddenly appears on the scene.
As Big Daddy, an over-the-top and possibly certifiable Batman look-alike who seems intent on cleaning up the city’s drug trade single-handedly, Nick Cage turns in a riveting performance. But the real show-stealer is Chloe Moretz, who plays his daughter Mindy, with her super hero sidekick identity of Hit-Girl.
The appeal of Kick-Ass is that it does not take itself seriously. Rather than presenting the audience with a procession of cardboard cut-out comic book characters who lack any depth or real-life human attributes, it takes us into the world of “what if?”.
Nineteen-year-old British actor Aaron Johnson is superbly right for his role as the teenage super hero wannabe, who just wants to get the girl.
Nick Cage’s Big Daddy manages to convey the right combination of sinister and send-up, while leaving us wondering at the depths of his vigilante violence.
Chloe Moretz’s Hit-Girl performance is outstanding, her martial-arts skills and spunk standing in stark contrast to the everyday blundering of Johnson’s Kick Ass.
Departure from the conventions of the typical comic-book-derived film earn Kick-Ass high marks, as does a tight plot, strong acting and solid writing.
Based on a British graphic novel of the same name, and with a quick-moving screenplay by the book’s principal writer, Mark Millar, it’s evident that the film is geared more to adults, with frequent coarse language and lots of gore.
As such, it’s highly possible that Kick-Ass may suffer at the box-office, with its 18A rating resulting in a drop in potential teen patrons that are its natural audience.
Nevertheless, the film is well worth seeing.
Director Matthew Vaughan’s triumph is his ability to strip a comic-hero narrative of its clichés. An independently financed production shot in London, Toronto and New York, it mocks Hollywood taboos and commercialism, without sacrificing any of its production values.
A word of caution is necessary. For many, this film may well fall into the category of Guilty Pleasure, as they are alternately enthralled by a clever and entertaining satire of the comic-book fanboy genre, and repulsed by the level of ultraviolence that Cage and Moretz’s dynamic duo bring to Kick-Ass. But it’s for sure they won’t be bored.
Kick-Ass plays at The Qwanlin Cinema at 7:00 and 9:15 p.m.