“Why hasn’t anyone ever tried to be a superhero, like in real life?” Unremarkable high-schooler Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) sees a real dearth of caped crusaders in contemporary New York, and as such takes it upon himself to fill the gap. So he dons a cheap green wetsuit and takes to the streets to fight crime; but this is the real world, and people can get really hurt.
Kick-Ass makes great use of juxtaposing its contradictory elements. There’s the cute, cartoonish characters that regularly unleash brutal violence – and have it returned upon them. There’s the very grounded reality of the world, our world, splashed with liberal dashes of comic-book hyper-fantasy. And there’s the strong vein of moral fortitude, interspersed with very ethically questionable character choices. This makes for a great action film that’s fun, with just the right amount of brain fodder. The ultra-violent combat scenes that result from this mixed philosophy have a stylised class about them that is a pleasure to watch. And the inventiveness is supremely exciting and entertaining.
It’s undeniable that the structure is a little stilted – perhaps due to a wish to stay true to the original graphic novel material. And we end up with a slightly overlong running time because of it. But overall Kick-Ass is superbly slick. Everything kicks into a particularly high gear whenever the young, and mega-violent Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) arrives on screen. Her character and presence give us many of the film’s best moments.
As a genre piece, this is one of the better graphic novel adaptations out there. It’s funny, cool, exciting, and even occasionally poignant; exactly the kind of hero the modern action genre needed.