Into every life a little ass kicking must fall. There are those who kick the ass, and others who get theirs kicked. Based on the comic series by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. Marvel Comics’ latest adaptation takes us into the world of an unremarkable teen with a remarkable idea:
From one idle comment thrown out to his two friends (Clark Duke, Evan Peters) at the local comic shop begins a dream that will quickly turn into a nightmare.
Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) decides the world could use a super-hero, and why not him? Ordering a scuba suit and a pair of billy clubs online, our new hero (under the moniker “Kick-Ass”) quickly proceeds to get his ass handed to him in all manner of ways. His attempt to stop a pair of thugs from boosting a car doesn’t exactly go as planned. The outcome leaves our hero stabbed, beaten, hit by a moving car, and naked in the back of an ambulance. Ouch!
In the same vein as Millar’s original comic Kick-Ass shows that there’s good reason why no sane person has ever donned tights and fought crime in the real world. Although neither as brutal nor as gory as the original, the film is filled with its fair share of over-the-top violence. If you are looking for a kick-ass action flick you’ve come to the right place.
In most respects the story is very similar to the comic, but the film does deviate in how it presents and rectifies certain situations. In this version Kick-Ass completes a more typical hero’s journey than that of the original story. Does Kick-Ass become a hero in the comic? That’s arguable. Does Kick-Ass become a hero in the movie? Undoubtedly.
Screenwriters Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn do their best to include as many of the comic’s subplots as they can squeeze into it’s two-hour running time. Included are Dave’s awkward relationship with his father (Garrett M. Brown), and his even more awkward relationship with his school’s resident cute cool girl (Lyndsy Fonseca). As in the comic, our hero’s entire friendship with Katie rests on him pretending to be her non-threatening gay friend. However, the film does soften the rumors about why everyone believes Dave’s sexual orientation. Here everyone has comes to the conclusion that Dave is gay because was found nude one night (in the comic the constant beatings he takes spread rumors that he’s been pimping his ass in Greenwich Village).
For all his good intentions Dave is a poor super-hero. Just as in the comic, Kick-Ass isn’t even the coolest hero on screen. That goes to young Mindy Macready (Chloë Grace Moretz ), AKA Hit Girl. Though the film is a little less clear on her age (is she 12 or 16?) this little girl kicks almost as much ass as she did on the printed page (though she doesn’t spill as much blood – and sadly her big flamethrower scene is nowhere to be seen).
Along for the ride is Nicolas Cage as Mindy’s father and mentor Big Daddy, who almost steals the entire film. There are two scenes involving Big Daddy and Hit Girl that tell you everything you need to know about the level of dysfunction in this family. The first involves a Big Daddy shooting his little girl and the second is an online purchase that isn’t the type of thing you’re likely to find on Amazon.com. Some of the more gruesome moments might be missing, but “the item” bought online used in the final act is a nice, if somewhat bizarre, addition.
The film does make some important deviations in terms of story, especially in the second act. The Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) storyline is shown from his perspective (those of you who have read the comic will understand what this entails). The film also beefs up the character of crime boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) into a more fully-realized character.
There are also far less decapitations, no testicles hooked-up to car batteries, and no butcher knife through the skull. Sigh. The film also simplifies the backstory of Big Daddy and Hit Girl which may be easier to explain given the limitations of screentime, but this does leave out one of the comic’s big reveals.
I refuse to give everything away, but there is also one very large swerve the movie makes that comic smartly stays away from. The moral of the comic seems to be that being a super-hero is a really, really, really dumb idea which will lose you everything. The film starts with a similar premise but deviates it during its second half when it allows our hero to find much more success than the hero of the comic ever did. In the comic being Kick-Ass doesn’t change Dave’s life for the better. As for the movie…I’ll leave it to you to see for yourself.