So we’re back. You may notice some differences in how some things display. I’m considering some changes, which would mean the plug-in I currently use for lightboxing would no longer work, so I’m going to be posting without the lightbox until I make a final decision.
Kick Ass is more recent than most of the films I cover, but I happened to have a borrowed copy, so I figured I’d use it while I had it. Based on the Marvel comic by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr., Kick Ass tells the story of Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), an ordinary teenager who decides to try to make the world a better place by putting on a costume and fighting crime. Unfortunately, he has no special powers, special training, or even basic fighting ability, so things don’t turn out exactly as he hopes.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn (who also directed X-Men: First Class, the last film I covered here), the film opens with a riff on Peter Parker’s narration in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, with Lizewski narrating as we meet him, his friends, and the girl of his dreams, Katie Deauxma. Dave is a big comics fan who wonders why no one has tried dressing up like superhero in real life before (answer: they have). But even though he isn’t even brave enough to talk to lonely rich kid Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), he decides to become a costumed hero after being mugged for the countless time while people watch silently through their windows. He orders a scuba suit, puts together a matching mask and goes out to practice fighting evil.
Of course, it’s mostly a fantasy lark until he runs into the same muggers who robbed him breaking into a car. He changes into his costume and confronts them, and it’s a glorious moment when he finally gets to strike back at the world that has oppressed him for so long.
At least until he gets stabbed in the guts and stumbles into the path of a moving vehicle.
Not an auspicious debut.
Meanwhile, we learn that lonely rich kid Chris D’Amico’s father Frank (Mark Strong) is a mob boss, and he’s got a problem. One of his low-level thugs has stolen a ton of coke while claiming that it was taken by a guy in a costume who may or may not have looked like Batman. Frank goes to the movies with Chris as his men kill the rat.
One thing the movie does well is, even as it’s showing the hero to be vulnerable and virtually ineffectual, it also presents the bad guys as banal and ordinary, like when Frank’s telling one of his men to get him a Slushee while in the background, we hear screams of torture cut short by a gunshot. D’Amico’s an interesting character, far from a genius, but with a scary intensity when he needs it.
Meanwhile, we also meet Damon and Mindy Macready (Nicolas Cage and Chloe Grace-Moretz), a father and daughter who share some bonding time as Daddy shoots his little princess with a handgun to get her used to her bulletproof vest. Heartwarming.
So Dave gets out of the hospital with a skeleton full of pins and metal and a bunch of dead nerve endings, meaning he barely feels pain anymore. Perfect for a superhero!
But even as he’s reassembling his costume and resuming his training, Dave is also dealing with his new girlfriend (sort of), Katie Deauxma. You see, Dave got the paramedics to throw away his bloody costume while he was being taken to the hospital, so he showed up at the hospital nude. So the rumor has gone around that he is gay, which has apparently made him much more attractive in Katie’s eyes.
Dave decides to try the hero biz again, starting smaller this time. He finds a poster searching for a missing cat and decides to track it down. Along the way, he runs into a dude being chased by three thugs who proceed to beat him mercilessly. So Dave, who’s sick of seeing people stand by and watch while others get walked over, jumps in to fight while, um, a bunch of people stand by and watch.
And not coincidentally, film the action on their cellphones, which turns Dave (calling himself Kick Ass) into a viral hit. Not only that, but Katie thinks Kick Ass is pretty cool and wonders if maybe she should contact him for help with an ex-boyfriend who won’t leave her alone. dave encourages her to do so, then dons his costume to give the ex a talking -to. Except it turns out that the ex is a drug dealer with a bunch of scary bodyguards. Dave is in way over his head, and on the verge of being stabbed again, when suddenly salvation shows up in the form of Hit Girl, who murders the entire gang (except for one bodyguard who’s taken out by a sniper shot from her father, Big Daddy, whose costume really does look like Batman).
That creepy smile she gives Dave whenever she kills one of these goons is kinda terrifying, almost as terrifying as Big Daddy’s pseudo-Adam West voice and pimptastic mustache. But though Dave wonders about giving up the mask now that shit has gotten real, Kick Ass is still publicly popular. The viral video is receiving endless airplay (and in a couple of shots, I could swear there are cameos by John Romita Jr., the artist of the original comic). And now, Frank D’Amico suspects that the Batman lookalike accused of stealing his drugs might in fact be Kick Ass, after what happened to Katie’s ex-boyfriend and his crew. He orders Kick Ass found and killed, but then, as coincidence would have it, Kick Ass walks right by his car in the middle of the afternoon. So Frank gets out to say hi.
Kick Ass is dead. End of movie. Which is weird, because there’s still another hour to go. We’ll find out what that’s about next week.