Movie Review: Kick-Ass

kickassby Lucy Arnold

 

Taking Shit Seriously (or Taking Shit, Seriously)

In the vein of Watchmen and other “dark” superhero movies, Kick-Ass presents us with our very own flawed modern world and the flawed hero necessary to save it.

On the one hand, the movie is curiously engaging, particularly scenes including Nicolas Cage and Chloë Grace Moretz (who hands-down steals the movie). Hit Girl is an intriguing character, one who could have made the movie all on her own, challenging as she does audience preconceptions about superheroes, little girls, and violence. Simultaneously thrilling and disturbing as it is to watch her pump lead into the brains of various villains, Moretz is absolutely believable. As her equally disturbing father, Nic Cage is brilliant. And their relationship raises questions about parenting outside of crime fighting. To what extent do all parents raise their kids with requisite baggage, churning out new generations of dysfunctional psychoses? All within the context of love.

In the mirror relationship, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is desperate to engage in his father’s criminal business, even though Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) is loathe to see his son’s potential. But compared to the understandable and compelling family bond portrayed by Moretz and Cage, this father-son drama falls flat. Far worse for the movie, the villainy exercised by the D’Amicos just doesn’t have that old-fashioned evil feeling. Neither fully businesslike or intensely scary, the bad guys were always doomed to fall at the hands of Hit Girl and Kick-Ass. Or maybe we’re just living out post-Dark Knight villain depression.

The heart and title of the movie is Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson), though, it is with him that the movie ultimately fails for us.

Bad shit happens all the time. A lot of those times people are perfectly aware of said bad shit, and often they do nothing. Certainly there are those rare occasions when ordinary people stand up against the madness and say, “This far and no farther.” That’s real-life heroism. Then there are those fictional occasions when exceptional people stand up against the forces of darkness. That’s superheroism.

But in real life, if you decide to be a rogue superhero, what’s stopping any given person with a gun from shooting you? Which leads us to the real question: if you suck at being a superhero but you keep right on doing it anyway, you’re really just a crazy person, right? For just such an example, consider the Batman copycatters in Dark Knight… the lucky ones were tied up and sent to prison, the unlucky ones died horribly.

And that, in a nutshell, is Kick-Ass. He’s just a lame-ass kid with no assets or principles. He just wants to get a girl into bed. The stuff he does isn’t heroic. It’s dumb. And devastatingly, it’s not compelling to watch, just painful.

Here’s to Kick-Ass 2 being renamed Hit Girl.

 

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