It’s been a week since I saw Kick-Ass. I was trying to find a way, as I often do with much anticipated movies, to talk about it and say something that hasn’t already been repeated ad nauseum out in the blogosphere.
How many times does one need to read that "Kick-Ass kicks ass!"?? It does. In spades, it does.
It’s funny and violent and colorful and over-the-top. The kind of movie that makes you really glad you’re sitting in a crowded movie theater with 200 people all sharing the experience, rather than at home in your darkened living room.
Kick-Ass is not only a movie based on a comic book (sorry…graphic novel) but it is a comic book of a movie. If it is a "super hero movie" it’s one that doesn’t take itself seriously. Unlike Spiderman and the Dark Knight films, which seem to aspire to no more than using their source material as a jumping off point, Kick-Ass is a live action version of the source material, a comic book come to life. Its big, bold primary colors harken back to the ’60s tv version of Batman (which may have inspired Nicolas Cage’s spot on impression of Adam West. Ironically, most of those who will line up to buy a ticket to Kick-Ass will not get the reference, though as it’s almost a given they are fans of Family Guy, they will recognize the speech patterns.) One can almost see each scene as a panel in a comic strip, complete with thought/speech balloons and Pow! Bam! and Socko! every time someone gets hit.
The young cast was terrific. I’m not sure I’d call Dave Lizewski Aaron Johnson’s break-out role. He was good, but I fear he’ll become more famous for impregnating his 42 yr old Nowhere Boy director at 19, than any part he ever plays. (I really want to see Nowhere Boy at some point.) Christopher Mintz-Plasse was also good but the only time one will not be reminded of "McLovin’" is when he’s doing voice-work, as in How to Train Your Dragon when the appearance of the character he voiced is as far from Christopher Mintz-Plasse as one could get.
I’m sure Matthew Vaughn despaired of ever finding a young girl who could carry off a character like Hit Girl. Boy, did he get lucky with Chloe Moretz. This kid has drawn comparisons to a young Jodie Foster, and rightly so; comparisons that have also been made with Dakota Fanning and Abigail Breslin. Both of those actresses are extremely talented and will hopefully be around as long as Jodie has, but neither of them has on their already impressive resumes a character as dark as Hit Girl/Mindy McCready. If Scorcese were making Taxi Driver today, I think Mindy and Iris would have a lot to talk about. (Speaking of Scorcese, Moretz has the lead in his new film "The Invention of Hugo Cabret", currently in post and due out next year)
By now, everyone interested knows about the infamous use of the "c" word. I am personally not a fan of this word. While it may stem from middle English and its use goes back to at least Chaucer, its modern connotation is nothing but derogatory. If I had seen this movie before all of the hype surrounding the one fleeting utterance of this word, I may have been a little bit more outraged. As it was, I was waiting for it. And while it is a manifestation of the wacky mindset of this 11 yr old girl, it’s really not that big a deal, IMHO. This kid is a miniature adult, a violent and aggressive adult. Everything one sees her do or say is shocking.
As for the actual adults, Matthew Vaughn has filled in the edges of his movie with some really good character actors. Some he’s worked with in the past, like Dexter Fletcher and Jason Flemyng, others equally recognizable like Michael Rispoli, all playing variations on mob goons.
I haven’t liked Nicolas Cage in years and he’s terrific as Big Daddy, (see above) but for me, however, the highlight of the film was Mark Strong’s Frank D’Amico. I don’t know what I can say here that hasn’t already been said elsewhere. A lot of superlatives have been heaped on this performance and I would only be redundant if I repeated them all now. Oh wait… here’s one…SEXY AS ALL HELL! Long and lean, stalking cat like through the film in those perfectly draped suits and expertly tailored trousers (Hell, I should be writing for ClothesOnFilm) all tightly coiled menace… One of his best villains yet, and with a canon of villains like his, that’s saying something.
God bless and keep Sammy Sheldon, the BAFTA award winning costume designer who also did Stardust among others, who put this man in those fantastic colors. It should be written into every contract for every role he ever takes in the future that he must wear a red shirt at least once.
Matthew Vaughn has made three movies. Three. Each better than the last. Personally I can’t wait to see what he’s on to next.
(Oh and memo to self: Write Matthew Vaughn and ask him to talk his good friend Guy Ritchie out of casting Brad Pitt as Moriarty.)