The best part about this film is Dave, aka Kick-Ass. A geeky kid who decides he’s had enough of dirtbags hurting people and no one doing anything about it. Aaron Johnson is spectacular in the lead role. In fact, I can’t imagine a better casting choice that could have been made. I immediately liked and felt empathy for his character – maybe because I’m a big geek too :) Johnson plays the role to near-perfection: a kid who wants to make a difference and get the girl of his dreams.
The budding relationship between him and Katie (played by the charming Lyndsy Fonseca) is very enjoyable to watch and the two actors have really cool chemistry. In fact, anytime Dave or Dave and Katie were on the screen, I was having a rockin’ time with this flick. But not quite as much when they were not.
Because given nearly as much screen time are Hit-Girl and Big Daddy (Chloe Moretz and Nicolas Cage). And it’s not that I didn’t enjoy those characters or their scenes. But they didn’t impact me the way the main story with Dave did. I couldn’t tell you what the character arcs for Hit-Girl or Big Daddy are. I’m not even sure how essential they are to the story except for adding a bunch of high-octane blood-splattering action scenes. And, yes, all the Hit-Girl scenes are indeed violent. But I’m an action film junkie. So, the violence didn’t turn me off. But I will say I also didn’t think it added anything. Up until the first Hit-Girl killing spree scene, the film was playing as kind of a goofy action-comedy with heart. And I liked that a lot. I would have been perfectly content to have Hit-Girl kick-ass like she did without limbs going flying. I get the juxtaposition: an 11-year-old girl disemboweling people is unique. But does that make it great?
Cause here’s the deal. This is a great concept. A regular kid with no powers and no real training putting on a costume and trying to be a superhero. That idea rocks! Huge props to Millar and Romita, Jr. for coming up with it. And to Vaughan for realizing it would make a great transition to the screen. But I would have loved to have seen even more of the Dave story. That’s the fun part of the film. More importantly, it’s the core of it. Will Dave be able to become a real hero? Will he have what it takes when he realizes how way over his head he is? Will he show people that a completely ordinary guy can have the guts to put his life on the line and help his fellow man? Those are the things that make this film awesome.
In fact, I would have loved it if Vaughan chose to kick-ass with his theme even more. It’s clear from this film that one of the lessons to take away is that sitting around and doing nothing while scumbags fuck people up isn’t cool. Or as one of my favorite proverbs go: “All that’s necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” That’s the perfect theme for this movie. And there was a perfect place to display that. But it wasn’t taken.
When Kick-Ass and Big Daddy are captured by the evil bad guy (his name’s Frank D’Amico but I’m going to call him evil bad guy), they broadcast it on the internet to show the world what happens when people think they can be superheroes and mess with the mob. Everyone’s watching. All Dave’s friends and kids from school. Pretty much everyone in the city. Watches them get tortured by evil bad guy’s good squad. And what I was hoping would happen is that those normal people, his friends, regular citizens, decide they’re not going to let these scumbags kill Kick-Ass – the one guy who had the guts to make a stand. And they somehow rescue him and Big Daddy. That would have been truly kick-ass. And in total support of the theme. And yes, I realize they had no idea where they were being held, but Vaughan and Goldman are awesome writers and could have easily made it work. But instead of that happening, the very predictable scene of Hit-Girl arriving to save the day and unleash mayhem unfolds. Again, enjoyable for what it was. But great movies do things that are unpredictable. They go beyond just being cool.
END SPOILER WARNING
And that’s the thing. “Kick-Ass” is a good, very fun movie with plenty of comedic moments. But it’s not great. And I’m not saying it has to be. I had a really good time watching it. In fact, I just picked up the graphic novel today and will totally be buying the DVD when it comes out. But IMDb users currently have given the film an 8.5 out of 10, putting it as the 145th best film out of all films ranked on the site. And IMDb users are notorious for not ranking films highly. To give you an idea, “Star Wars” is given an 8.8 and is ranked as the 12th best film. Sorry but “Kick-Ass” is no “Star Wars.” Nor is it anywhere near the top films of all time. What it will give you is an enjoyable, fun ride at the movies. And that’s absolutely enough. But I know how good Vaughan and Goldman are. And I can see how this movie could have been truly great. And completely kicked ass