Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Different Kind of Hero

I’m quite fond of director Matthew Vaughn – it is because of him that I am aware of Daniel Craig, whom I first saw in Vaughn’s Layer Cake a few years ago. I also rather enjoyed his Stardust, and love that he produced Guy Ritchie’s early work. Although I feel like his latest,
Kick-Ass, sneaked up on me and it took me a bit to go see it, I was looking forward to it…to enjoying it.

For the most part, though, Kick-Ass was a bit of a letdown.

The movie’s based on a popular comic and follows a regular-guy high schooler (British newcomer Aaron Johnson, doing a terrific American accent). His name is Dave Lizewski; he’s a glasses-wearing, mop-haired comic-book fanboy who decides to take his obsession as inspiration to become a real-life superhero.

Dave’s tired of standing on the sidelines, of being an observer – he doesn’t get why or how people can just look on when bad things happen to good people. So he purchases a funny-looking green wetsuit online, and, natch, re-invents himself as Kick-Ass.

Mind you, though, the kid has no skills….but vigilantism beckons. And so we see him get his handed to him the first time he confronts a couple of crooks. It’s a brutal scene, like many in the oh-so-subversive movie.

Eventually, the hero wannabe bounces back, and – whaddya know – his injuries have left him better equipped to fight crime: Dave’s been put back together with lots of metal plates, and something about his nerve endings being messed up means he can feel no pain. Hooray, huh.

His Kick-Ass alter ego has changed Dave’s life, and created a Web sensation after a second go at it is caught on video by one of those passive passersby the kid was complainin’ about when we first met him.

Kick-Ass becomes a sensation and inspires a subculture of copycats, but, at the same time, is hunted by assorted violent and unpleasant characters led by a mobster played by Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes), and meets up with a pair of crazed vigilantes, including an 11-year-old foul-mouthed dynamo named Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her father, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage).

Kick-Ass, though, isn’t nearly as rousing.

Yeah, I enjoyed how counter it was, and got a kick out of seeing Moretz play such a badass. That young lady, who also stole scenes in last year’s (500) Days of Summer, is going places, and had, say, Joss Whedon directed this, she would’ve been the star.

But, the movie moves at too slow a pace to be truly enjoyable...and it only comes alive when Moretz is on screen. Yeah, her character is more than controversial (she uses the C word! she handles guns and knives with gusto! she dispatches goons without flinching!), but unlike Johnson’s Dave/Kick-Ass, she’s got all the right moves. And that is fun to watch.

My Rating **1/2

Photo: Lionsgate Films.

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