A wildly-entertaining ultra-dark superhero action-comedy that definitely scores points for truth in advertising, this flick does exactly what it's title says in every single way. Imagine combining something like Superbad with Spiderman (that film's tag line is even referenced here in a rather off-hand manner) perhaps crossed with The Professional or Kill Bill and then handing it over to Tarantino or Scorsese to direct it; that description only offers a glimmer of what's on display here. To put it another way, this is as hard-edged of a satire as you're likely gonna find of superhero films, one that embraces as many of the tenets of the genre as it skewers. If hardcore action sequences are what you're after, this deliver in spades; best of all, it doesn't feel the need to tone things down in order to pander to a younger audience. For those willing to dig a little deeper, there's a wonderfully self-referential streak that permeates throughout the whole thing; one thing to appreciate about this film is that it's tongue is never far from its cheek, even during its most bloody and violent moments - and for good measure, there's even a sweet little love story that develops between the title character and the girl of his dreams (played here by a very cute Lyndsey Fonseca).
By now, I really don't need to tell anyone that this isn't one for viewers with weaker stomachs and it is definitely *not* for the kiddies, despite the presence of a preteen as one of the protagonists - in fact, many of the more sensitive viewers have been disturbed by the rather homicidal proclivities of said preteen, who's appropriately named Hit-Girl. I normally don't pay a great deal of attention to the MPAA and their ratings but I would definitely take heed of what they said about the content in this one, particularly their warnings of "strong brutal violence throughout" - they are not kidding around. There is plenty of viciousness throughout the film, much of which is perpetrated by - and, even on a couple of instances, against - young children as well as adults, to say nothing of the constant profanity.
But these things aren't besides the point; they *are* the point. Kick-Ass postulates what would happen if someone, or a group of someones tried to adopt a vigilante alter-ego in the real world and I think that it pretty much hits the nail on the head (if you siphon off some of the more patently ludicrous elements of the proceedings). Certainly, it's not gonna play out like someone's watered-down PG-13 fantasy. Some of these costumed crime fighters are more equipped to handle the rigors of such a daunting task than others (such as the titular character) who skate by purely on their tenacity and foolhardiness. In either case, when one chooses to play with fire in such an overt manner, they can expect to get burned (both literally and figuratively) and recovering from such assaults may not be as simple as just a few stitches. This movie isn't afraid to get that point across in a rather graphic, upfront manner. I for one appreciated the film's uncompromising approach to the material and it's unwillingness to water things down in order to court a more teen-friendly audience. But despite the harshness of the material, the tone is still largely comedic and it's definitely a testament to the skill of Matthew Vaughn that we laugh - and sometimes laugh hard - at much of what occurs here (although when one considers that Vaughn produced some of Guy Ritchie's early efforts and directed the 2004 crime-thriller - which was arguably the film that won its star, Daniel Craig, the role of James Bond - perhaps it's not too surprising that he could find the humor in such carnage).
A few words should be said about the casting, particularly that of young Chloe Moretz in the role of the aforementioned Hit Girl (nee Mindy Macready) since it arguably represents the most controversial aspect of the film. To say that casting such a young actress in this sort of role (Moretz just turned 13 a mere two months before Kick-Ass made its debut in theaters) is a ballsy move is to understate matters and one could go back and forth on how morally responsible such a decision was but this certainly isn't the first time in Hollywood that a young performer would be asked to handle such a potential risky part. I mentioned The Professional near the beginning of this review and there's a good reason for that because there are obvious similarities between Moretz's role here and the one that Natalie Portman essayed in the 1994 film. Both characters have a similar homicidal bent born of a need to exact revenge for the murder of a family member, not to mention a similar predilection for profanity (although to be fair, Hit Girl takes things much further here than did her counterpart, Mathilda, in the earlier film and conversely, the sexual overtones in that film are largely absent here, at least as far as Hit Girl is concerned). One could have all sorts of moral and ethical debates until they're blue in the face but, for me, all that matters is that Moretz dominates in this role, much like Portman did in The Professional (although Moretz's role here is more openly comedic). Even more so than the title character, Hit Girl is often the central attraction and a huge part of that has to do with how Moretz plays her part. This isn't intended as a knock on English actor Aaron Johnson, who does a solid job in the title role. He certainly sells on his character, an everyday high school geek who decides one day to become a superhero and manages to be successful despite some rather harsh resistance initially. It's a challenging role and one that Johnson proves capable of handling but when Hit-Girl is on screen, he and nearly every other cast member toil in her shadow. The exception is Nicolas Cage who plays her father, aptly named Big Daddy, another superhero who looks but acts nothing like Batman (certainly, the Dark Knight wouldn't approve of this caped crusader's penchant for guns). For Cage, this is arguably one of his best roles in years and it's pretty clear that the actor is having a field day here. As the villain, Mark Strong (who left a very strong - no pun intended here - impression in the 2008 thriller Body of Lies) tears into his rather stereotypical role with relish. As his son, the rather duplicitous but goofy Red Mist, Christopher "McLovin" Mintz-Plasse is cast according to type.
Before concluding this review, I'd like to make one final point. When my friend was trying to plug this movie for me (not that he really needed to since I was interested in seeing this ever since I'd heard of it) he described it as Spiderman movie for those of us who hated the Spiderman flicks. I can certainly agree with this sentiment. There are definite similarities in the plots of both stories but Kick-Ass has a much sharper edge and in my estimation, is infinitely more entertaining. In fact, this could easily be the best superhero film since Chris Nolan took the genre to new heights with The Dark Knight. This film truly deserves its name and I await the sequel with baited breath.