They Should Have Called Him ‘Ass-Kick’

3 May

Kick -Ass is one of those movies that’s inseparable from the controversy around it, so you can’t really talk about one without the other. The big problem people had was with the above-pictured Hit Girl, an 11-year old girl who kills dozens of people by the movies. Roger Ebert, most notably, really didn’t like it– and while I think I got more out of it than he did, I essentially agree with everything he says in that review. Kick-Ass had the potential to be a searing indictment of the superhero genre, and how their violence and sociopathy would be totally ridiculous in any other situation – in this case that nebulous idea of ‘the real world’. Ironically, the film suffers from the very thing it attempts to parody- everything gets turned up to 11, and what humanity the characters had left is lost.

Through most of the film the violence is depicted with some manner of realism, and in some places this really works, the early scenes of Kick Ass getting severely beaten for being insane enough to try and save other people are great. Had this continued right until the end, the last scenes would have been improved immeasurably had they kept that same level of honesty. Instead, the climatic battle is no less ridiculous than a dozen other superhero films, complete with a fly around the city to a rooftop at dawn straight out of Reeve’s Superman. While it looks very cinematic it practically ruins the plausibility of Hit Girl, the film’s most interesting character. Hit Girl is essentially a Robin-boy-wonder archetype, an innocent child who has their life ruined by insane adults fighting a pointless battle. It is believable that she could have had weapons training, it’s believable that she could be a good shot with a pistol, but it’s not believable that she could reload two pistols in mid-air while running- the exaggeration likely came from director Matthew Vaughn getting caught up in making things look cool onscreen.

One thing Kick-Ass does do well is generate real pathos, something almost no other superhero film has managed. The warehouse ‘unmasking’ is the films best scene, with a fight sequences that’s brutal, ugly, and at times genuinely difficult to watch.Aaron Johnson (who plays Kick Ass) does a lot with just his eyes as he’s  forced to watch Big Daddy (Nick Cage, doing a brilliant Adam West impression that %95 of the audience almost certainly won’t find funny) get mercilessly beaten then set on fire, and is powerless to help as Hit Girl kills a room full of goons to try and save him. There’s also a great moment between Hit Girl and mob boss D’Amico when she gets punched in the face and sees her own blood, the look on her face as she suddenly realises what’s been happening all this time is a powerful moment.

Kick-Ass never really felt like it was working for more than few minutes at a time- there was no chemistry between Kick-Ass’ non-hero friends, the sub-plot with his love interest is ridiculous (for readers of the comic the conclusion is radically different here) and the tone is all over the place. Amongst all that are a few truly compelling and unique moments, which in time will earn Kick-Ass a place as more than just an odd footnote in cinema, or at the very least a place on the dvd shelves of genre obsessives.

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One Response to “They Should Have Called Him ‘Ass-Kick’”

  1. Paul May 5, 2010 at 12:29 am #

    “Then the movie moved into dark, dark territory, and I grew sad. ” -Ebert. Great quote there from Roger.

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