Superhero Movie Month: "Kick-Ass" Review

Photo Credit: Lionsgate

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Rating: R
Length: 117 minutes
Release Date: April 16, 2010
Directed by: Mathew Vaughn
Genre: Action / Comedy

Released in the spring of 2012, "Kick-Ass" has drawn very positive reviews from both audiences and film critics alike. This surprised many movie-industry insiders, who feared the film would be too violent, profane and risqué for audiences to embrace it. On the contrary, while the film is a violent and gritty ride that follows foul-mouthed teens and an exceptionally precocious tween, unapologetic realism is one of the film's greatest strengths.

Characters and Actors

"Kick-Ass" stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Dave Lizewski, a sensitive and meek high school student, living in Staten Island, New York. He lives alone with his father, played by Garrett M. Brown, as his mother has passed away. Christopher Mintz-Plasse plays Chris D'Amico, son of Mafia boss Frank D'Amico. Frank, played by Mark Strong, is the story's primary villain, but as the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that Chris is eager to follow in his father's footsteps. Lyndsy Fonseca plays Dave Lizewski's love interest, Katie Deauxma, a fellow high school teen. Nicholas Cage, the film's most high-profile actor, plays Damon Macready, a former cop, who was kicked off the force after being set up by Frank D'Amico. Mindy Macready, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, is Macready's daughter. She is a talented and spunky young lady who can keep up with the older boys around her.

Storyline and Plot

Looking to take control of his life and make a difference in the lives of others, Dave Lizewski decides to become a real-life superhero. Donning a modified body suit and arming himself with a pair of batons, Lizewski soon finds the trouble he is looking for. In his first few encounters, Lizewski gets himself stabbed and nearly run over by a car, causing him to sustain serious injuries, necessitating a lengthy recovery process. During this process, Lizewski becomes better able to cope with pain and much more durable. While undergoing rehab, his long-time crush Katie Deauxma reaches out to him and becomes his friend.

After recovering, Lizewski sets out again to become a real superhero. At one point, Lizewski battles with a gang and defeats them handily. Serendipitously, a bystander videotapes the victory and posts it online. Seeing the positive reaction to the film, Lizewski is emboldened. He names himself "Kick-Ass" and sets up a Myspace page so that troubled citizens can find him. In one of his encounters, Kick-Ass is overpowered by some drug dealers that have been bothering Katie. However, before the thugs can finish off the film's hero, a young superhero girl, named "Hit-Girl", rescues him. Killing the entire gang of villains, Hit-Girl exits with her father, Damon Macready, who, the audience later learns, has been training her to fight crime. The rest of the film follows the young crime fighters as they and Hit-Girl's father battle with Mafia boss Frank D'Amico and his son, Chris.

Comic Book

The film "Kick-Ass" is based on the comic book of the same name, written by Mark Millar. While the film differs in several key places, the basic plotline remains the same. For instance, in the book, Macready turns out to be an accountant, not a police officer, while the movie skips this detail. Additionally, tweaks were made to prepare the story for the big screen, as movies and books generally unfold at different paces. The film's climax also differs from the book, to pay off all of the tension that was built in the first two acts.

Violence and Profanity

"Kick-Ass" features virtually wall-to-wall profanity and violence which earn it its R rating. One thing that producers feared the most was the response the public would have to Hit-Girl speaking such blunt language. However, audiences largely accepted the language and violence coming out of the mouths and blades of the film's heroes. It is fortunate that the film's producers were so bold in their work, as the realism of the film depends heavily on these two aspects. Becoming a real-life superhero is not a job for the squeamish, and "Kick-Ass" reflects this in part, through the use of such language and gore.

Early on, many studios passed on "Kick-Ass", fearing that the adult-themed content, graphic violence and script full of vulgarities would cause it to fail. However, "Kick-Ass" succeeded on virtually every level, earning many high ratings from mainstream critics and a 77 percent "fresh" rating on the review site Rotten Tomatoes. "Kick-Ass" succeeded at the box office as well, generating approximately 48 million dollars from a film that cost an estimated 30 million dollars to shoot. Contrary to some of the anxiety surrounding the film's release, "Kick-Ass" offers ample character development and intelligent writing to carry the violence and profanity. Additionally, the incredibly talented cast portrays their characters as realistically as the plot allows, which helps to transport the audience out of the theater and into the world of "Kick-Ass".