Before the rise of Deadpool to bless our viewing eyes, Kick-Ass arrived at theaters everywhere to reach down to the depths of maturity and give us the rare taste of R-rated goodness to come from the superhero genre and wanted more after it’s done.
What’s the Story: Based on the comic book series from Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is an ordinary teenager going through high school who gets the idea of becoming a real-life superhero after questioning how no one has ever done it before. He does so under the name Kick-Ass, and after a failed first attempt that landed him in the hospital, he becomes publicly known after saving a man’s life. After being named a phenomenon, he inspires a father/daughter team Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) to take down crime boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong).
Despite never reading the source material, Kick-Ass was a movie I was very much so looking forward to just from the leaked Comic-Con trailer and the fact it carries on a good question that’s asked: How come no one ever tries to be a superhero? That’s often something we all think about daily, even when it’s impossible to gain actual abilities. But being one probably won’t you alive in real-life. And even as a teenager and as an adult now, we don’t talk about how cool Matthew Vaughn made a film to please fans all over. I saw it on opening day since we didn’t have school that Friday, and I was probably the first person in seventh grade to see it, with a parent, of course.
I planned my expectations to be high since these were characters that weren’t recognizable to me, yet watching this felt like a breath of fresh air I couldn’t believe came true on the big screen. Sure, this wasn’t the first R-rated comic book movie released since we already had a positive interest with Sin City and Watchmen a year prior, but the credit goes to Vaughn for throwing together an entertaining film that almost made it like looking at a comic come to life, and you can see he wanted to make this a true translation that someone like Quentin Tarantino would make it he took Spider-Man, Mystery Men, and Kill Bill and rolled them into one good-looking piece of art. Even Vaughn had trouble selling the movie to studios before Lionsgate bought it and was independently financed by him.
This was most of our first viewing of Aaron Taylor-Johnson, including myself, and this was his first time prototyping a superhero before going fast as Quicksilver in the MCU. Honestly, he didn’t do too bad of a job as this comic-centric guy wanting to be someone else for a change. It’s much so a relatable character in dressing up like a superhero, but having no special powers. It was also a surprise to learn he’s British and pulled off that American accent well. But while this movie’s called Kick-Ass, the scene-stealer is Chloë Grace Moretz as Mindy Macready/ Hit-Girl, without question. Nobody didn’t think a then 13-year-old was going to blow everyone’s minds and does she make each scene wild. The controversy about how it was wrong for a young actress to use profanity and kill people was quickly forgotten since Mortez’s performance made her a breakout actress in the making. Without the addition of her, it would be the same.
She also handled herself well working with Nicolas Cage as her father Damon/ Big Daddy, who was a former cop who was thrown in prison and trains her daughter to be an assassin. It’s been a long while since Cage gave a performance that wasn’t meant to be unintentionally funny, and this is his best role in years when he’s this Ned Flanders-type dad and this Batman-type vigilante I couldn’t get enough of. He didn’t get to play Superman, but we’re glad to see him play a hero. The relationship between him and his daughter was unconventional, but you feel something. Christopher Mintz-Plasse wouldn’t have been my first choice as Chris D’Amico/ Red Mist, but I didn’t mind him as the son of a crime lord who goes undercover as this new hero in the city to gain his father’s respect, and Mark Strong in another villainous role is never anything to complain about when he’s usually good.
The story can easily resonate with anybody who is hoping to do something good once in a while without taking itself seriously or turning it into a parody. The action never disappointed me since it makes you pumped up r make your jaw drop at how perfectly edited and bloody they were. Where else can you have a sequence with Hit-Girl killing guys left-to-right set to a punk cover of The Banana Splits theme song? Only here. The whole film movies at a nice pace to where its scenes didn’t waste any time moving on without the action in between and giving us characters to care for, hoping nothing serious happens to them. Vaughn also knows how to handle the tone where it can be super hilarious at one end to adventurous in the drop of a hat.
It couldn’t help itself by getting dark unexpectedly in a few places that kind of took me off guard and halted the comedic timing. Besides that issue, not everyone will praise how violet this is, but they should’ve known what they walked into based on the name alone. It’s shown to be a ground and taking this world seriously, like what we’re in now. Such a shame this didn’t make more cash at the box office, but it at least gained a cult following and became the first great superhero movie of the last decade. If only we got a sequel that wasn’t a letdown upon further reflections.
Final Thoughts: Kick-Ass continues to be awesome a decade after it came out. Thanks to Matthew Vaughn, he and company took the comic book series and made it into a sweet R-rated adaptation, topped with exciting, violent action that took balls and humor that made this an entertaining ride that’s fairly underrated. Grade: A-