Saturday, April 17, 2010


Kick-Ass is indeed kick ass! Superhero/graphic novel films are hard to pull off without well-known heroes/characters in the foreground (i.e. The Watchmen, The Spirit, etc.), but every now and then an underdog rises (i.e. Daredevil, Sin City, etc.). What really made this film awesome for me—besides the killer action scenes, endearing characters, superhero references, and funny dialogue—was the template. It functioned as a tutorial on how a hero is born, and how easily a hero can veer off course to become the villain.

Dave Lizewski / Kick-Ass 
(Aaron Johnson from The Greatest)
Much like Spiderman, he's a dorky, comic book lover who does not have skills with the ladies. But unlike Peter Parker, he chose to be a hero, and his desire to be one didn't develop from the death of a parent (even though his mom died from an aneurysm), but from his inability to understand why everyday people don't step up to help out their fellow man. As he says towards the end, rephrasing the infamous Spiderman line, "With no power, comes no responsibility...but that's not true." Slapping on a green and yellow wet suit, sliding on Timberlands, and strapping nunchucks and a taser to his back seemed like the heroic civilian thing to do. But Kick-Ass, while it does have its unbelievable moments, tries to ground itself in reality. Dave has no nunchuck skills. His taser is useless. And if he didn't get hit by a car during his first act of heroism, resulting in most of his nerves being so damaged he can't feel anything anymore, he wouldn't last more than five seconds in a fight. The point of this hero's journey wasn't so that we would have a new hero to worship alongside Superman and Batman, but to acknowledge that if a kid has the balls to go up against thugs and drug dealers, then everyone else should put on their proverbial suits and become their own heroes too.

Kick-Ass's evolution came in three parts:
Beginner's testing phase: He tried to "leap tall buildings in a single bound."
Official initiation into the crime-fighting club: He defended a guy from getting bludgeoned to death by three thugs.
Final crowning act of heroism: He saved Mindy, using a jet pack, a machine gun, and a bazooka.

Mindy Macready / Hit Girl 
(Chloe Moretz from 500 Days of Summer and Diary of a Wimpy Kid)
Hit Girl had a more traditional hero upbringing. The film's bad guy Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong from Sherlock Holmes) planted drugs on her cop dad (Nicholas Cage) and framed him as a drug dealer. Her pregnant mom then overdosed on pills and died after giving birth. She was raised for the first five years by her dad's partner Marcus (Omari Hardwick from Next Day Air). And when her dad got out of prison, he began to train her to become a killing machine. They've been training for roughly 6 years, learning how to use knives, throwing stars, guns, etc., all so they could take down D'Amico. While normally Child Services would perceive this as child endangerment, this is a comic book movie so it's okay. It's okay that she killed more people than anyone else in the film. It's okay that she shows no remorse in stabbing, shooting, gutting, slicing, or choking anyone to death. It's okay that she uses words like "motherfucker," "cunt," and "cock." And it's okay that she would rather get a butterfly knife for her birthday than a Brats doll. She's the real deal. She's way more kick ass than Kick-Ass.

Beginner's testing phase: Her dad, Big Daddy, tried to get her accustomed to how it feels when you get shot with a bulletproof vest shooting her four times. Ahh father-daughter bonding. 
Official initiation into the crime-fighting club: She single-handedly took out an entire room of kidnappers, and saved both Kick-Ass and her dad.
Final crowning act of heroism: She goes after D'Amico to finish what her dad started.

Chris D'Amico / 
Red Mist
(Christopher Mintz-Plasse from Superbad and Role Models)
Chris's story is of the darker nature. It's the story of how a villain is born. Every villain has an innocent beginning. Perhaps there are delusions of grandeur and potentially nefarious ambitions that echo the ones of a young Lex Luthor, but there's a trigger that derails the runaway train that is their twisted psyche. Chris, like Lex, is driven by a desire to please his father. He's almost 18 and he wants to be groomed to take over the family business. Of course, he still behaves like he's 12, playing mob boss at his daddy's desk, waving around a loaded gun, and practicing scathing lines. When we meet him, he's on the cusp, teetering between good and evil. He knows that hurting Kick-Ass to impress his dad is wrong, and even clears Kick-Ass's name so his dad won't kill him, but he also understands that sometimes people have to be sacrificed in order to gain respect. Mindy may have been brainwashed into being a killing machine, but she has a firm grasp of what's right and wrong. Chris, on the other hand, only understands what will get him power and what won't—all other distinctions fall to the wayside.

Beginner's testing phase: He manages to get Kick-Ass to meet him, by creating a superhero persona, Red Mist, that he can trust. 
Official initiation into the criminal underworld: He succeeds in infiltrating one of Big Daddy and Hit Girl's safe houses, resulting in the kidnapping of both Big Daddy and Kick-Ass
Final crowning act of villainy: He pretty much declared war on Kick-Ass and Hit Girl, donning a new mask while sitting in his father's chair and saying, "Wait till they get a load of me."

Illustrating these evolutions, of the heroes and the villain, truly emphasized how corruption could happen to anyone, given the right or wrong motivation. I hope, if there's a sequel, that they continue to show the conflicting mindsets of the hero and the villain as they go head-to-head once again. I also hope director Matthew Vaughn keeps the same comic book visual aesthetic: rich colors and chapter titles. My favorite scene for the cinematography and perspective was the night-vision gun fight, because of the video-gamer angle and the burning man special effect.

Here are a few more of my favorites:

Nice Touches
• I liked all of the comic references, from Wolverine to Scott Pilgrim.
• It was good that even though Mindy had homicidal tendencies and interests, she still behaved like an 11-year-old during sincerely scary situations.
• I appreciated the cursing, because it's completely unrealistic when teenagers don't curse in movies, not even saying "shit" or "bitch" at least. High School Musical must take place inside of Walt Disney's mind.
• When a goon said that he's always wanted to shout "Say hello to my little friend!" while holding a bazooka, Kick-Ass is actually the one who recreates the Scarface scene by shooting up the place. Thus, echoing the similarity that The Godfather character arc has to the villain archetype.

The Best Badass Moments
• After rescuing her dad, Hit Girl turns to the live feed, points a gun at the video camera and says, "Show's over motherfuckers!"
• Like a psychotic chimp, Hit Girl jumps on and off bookcases down a narrow corridor, and takes out like ten goons.
• During one of the fight scenes, Hit Girl uses a chord to force a goon to shoot himself in the head.
• Hit Girl throws gun clips up and reloads in mid-air while running.

Funniest Moments
• The girl of Kick-Ass's dreams, Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca from "Desperate Housewives"), grasps his hands and starts telling him that she's always wanted a friend like him. His eavesdropping friends know exactly what's coming next, and Dave braces himself for the G-bomb. Apparently, Katie, and most of the school, thinks he's gay.
(Side note: Katie should stop acting like a "gay friend" is a collector's item. What is she going to get next? A "black one"?)
• When the entire comic book store is watching Kick-Ass on the news, Katie says that he's not her type and she prefers Red Mist. Seizing a prime opportunity, Dave's friend Marty (Clark Duke from "Greek") asks him what his type is, while holding back laughter?
• After watching Hit Girl take out a room full of bad guys on a live hostage feed, Dave's friend Todd (Evan Peters from "One Tree Hill" and Sleepover) says that although he realizes Hit Girl must be like 11 years old, he plans to save himself for her.
• After Kick-Ass formally meets the daddy-and-daughter duo, he asks them how he can contact them. Hit Girl's smart-ass response: "You just contact the mayor's office. He has a special signal he shines in the sky; it's in the shape of a giant cock!"
• During a near death experience, Dave starts going over all of the things he wishes he would've done before he died and one of them is to watch the "Lost" finale. lol
1) I'm right there with you dude.
2) Thank you for acknowledging television. I hate it when teenagers in movies act as though they never watch TV.
• When Kick-Ass and Red Mist were cruising in his Mistmobile, they started dancing kind of like Chris Tucker in Rush Hour...except badly.

So in case you didn't get it yet, this is a must-see. Hell, it's a must-buy. Hit Girl is the official new badass of the decade. The first actually.


  1. Kick Ass, though made to mimic B-Movie genre, in the end, surprises with a fight or flee finale that invokes the best heroic moments in cinematic history in films such as High Noon & True Grit. KA is a movie searching for much more than the obvious cheap laugh it seems to settle for early on. Indeed, KA is about defining those rare moments where courage and heroism meet and heroes are born. This film is a must see for all action-junkies & a delightful detour from typical Hollywood thoughtless writing.

    Mag -

  2. I just had the pleasure of viewing KA for the first time last week. I have seen it probably 12 times already and the use of Adagio in G minor for the Strobe sequence was phenomenal. There are so many great small ,and big parts of this movie, I can barely contain myself.