Friday, April 16, 2010

Kick Ass kicks ass!

Saw Kick Ass at a screening at work last night. It was pretty awesome. Matthew Vaughn, with only three directing credits to his name, is quickly turning into one of my favourite filmmakers, and he's already proven he has more range than his mate Guy Ritchie. The film manages to mix the best of comic books, Tarantino, the Wachowski Brothers and teen comedies to produce something that feels both familiar and fresh. The script, by Vaughn and Jane Goodman (Jonathan Woss' wife) walks the fine line between parody and straight-faced action while pleasing fans of both.
I haven't read the graphic novel so I went in cold, which I think is the best way to see the movie. There are some genuine surprises throughout, from the brutal treatment Kick Ass (alter ego Dave Lizewski) receives when he first tries to act the hero to the character of Red Mist, who has much more shades of gray than the trailers reveal. I don't want to spoil it, but the ending shows the horror of real life violence while still reveling in cartoonish crowd-pleasing excess.
None of this would work without a talented cast and everyone involved has brought their A game. Aaron Johnson manages to out-Peter Parker Tobey Maguire, particularly impressive considering he's English. Nicolas Cage is fun as Big Daddy, who talks like Adam West whenever he's in costume. Mark Strong (rapidly stealing every villain role in Hollywood) is solid as gangster D'Amico and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as his son keeps you guessing about his true intentions right until the end. But the real star is Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl - adorable, scary, funny and heartbreaking. It's one of the best child performances in recent years.
The film has a visual kick, great soundtrack choices and never stops moving. The only thing I was really disappointed out was the lack of the dialogue between Kick Ass and Red Mist in the final confrontation. It's like they forgot they were friends before the betrayal. Hopefully deleted scenes will expand on that. Morally reprehensible and OTT the film may be, but it's hard to imagine a more fun time at the movies. And any film that ends with a quote from Batman (1989) has a soft spot in my heart.