Director: Matthew Vaughn
Reviewed: April 2010
The preview was better than the movie, to put it simply. Matthew Vaughn, the director of the underrated Daniel Craig vehicle Layer Cake, puts together an anti-superhero movie of sorts that shines in moments when it winks at the genre (especially in the opening shots) and when Hit-Girl pops around the screen, spewing over-the-top dialogue while mercilessly beating all the baddies around her. But the more I think about this film, the more it kind of falls apart for me.
Dave, aka Kick-Ass, (played by Aaron Johnson), a high school guy in love with comics, attempts to fight crime, gets nearly killed, receives reinforced bones (I think) and a higher pain threshold, and stumbles into becoming an overnight Internet sensation vigilante. Supporting turns are provided by Nicolas Cage as a similar, shadowy hero-type, as well as McLovin' himself, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, as the son of the local mob boss Frank, (the forgettable Mark Strong). There's an obligatory love interest for Kick-Ass who only exists to be his girlfriend (though it is refreshing that she does not end up needing to be rescued in the final act), as well as a few friends who don't know the truth about his secret identity.
There is an energy and excitement when Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz, the little sister in 500 Hundred Days of Summer) explodes onto a scene, with her shock-purple hair and vicious moves. The soundtrack jumps in with her, propelling the scene with an energy that is lacking in most of the film. Nicolas Cage is enjoyably weird, shooting his daughter in the opening scenes with low-velocity rounds to test out the bulletproof vest employed later in the film. He calmly tells her, "It's just a matter of time before someone pulls a Glock on you," before he fires into her chest. She's the best thing about this film; I like Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weeky's assessment of Hit Girl: "a pint-size, purple-haired martial-arts demon who's like a prepubescent version of Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill films."
Yet, I'm not fully recommending this film. I wanted to see the Nicolas Cage-Hit Girl film. I was confused by some of the details--so, Hit Girl has never been to school, never socialized with anyone her own age? So, there's a partner to Nicolas Cage who is shown looking worried several times in the film but is left with nothing to do (except swoop in at the ending, fixing all problems)? Maybe I expected more from Kick-Ass's enemy, a mob boss who owns a lumber company (?). Maybe I didn't love the way the film ends with Red Mist spouting a sequel-promoting line from Jack Nicholson's Joker character in Tim Burton's far superior Batman. There's a lot of fun in this movie, but I don't think it works like it should. Maybe there will be more of Hit Girl in the sequel? I wish the movie had more of the joy and fire it shows when she is on screen.