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Laremy Legel

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Member of the BFCA and OFCS, writer of criticism, noted interviewer, box office oracle, walker of dog named Bugsy, Qui audet adipiscitur.

Review: Kick-Ass a Violent Delight

9

They say there’s a scientific reason you see a bright light as you’re passing on. They go on to say that this “bright light” phenomenon is merely the symptom of a faltering brain, and that it shouldn’t be used as proof of heaven or of some greater power.

What the hell?

This is what science has been working on? Taking away the last vestige of hope from potentially dying people? Yeeps. Science needs a new job. That’s atrocious work, science. Do better next time.

Into this sad little world steps the movie Kick-Ass. Kick-Ass doesn’t care what you think of it, doesn’t care what you make of the ultra-violence, doesn’t even want to hear about your social concerns with the overarching message. Kick-Ass simply wants to kick your ass. Then it will wait for you to get up and dust yourself off, where ideally it will commence kicking your ass a bit more. So yeah, it’s pretty big fun.

Let’s break it down!

What would happen if you raised a little girl to be a sociopathic lunatic? I’m talking about a full-on mayhemic level of parenting here, the sort where you taught her to use her smallish frame to inflict massive and mortal damage on unsuspecting goons. You then equipped her with knives, guns, and bazookas. It would be awesome, right? But also a bit worrisome, no? I mean, society can’t just have little preteen ninjas running around killing people, can it? That’s storyline one: Nicolas Cage and his baby girl, played by Chloe Moretz. They are, for lack of a better word, completely excellent. Her costumed name is “Hit Girl” while he goes by the moniker “Big Daddy.” Again, awesome.

The second storyline is of a high school student who decides to take matters into his own hands. He’s a comic book geek, but as the movie rightly points out, comic book geeks seem to be the least likely folk on the planet to transform themselves into superheroes to fight crime. When did laziness co-opt the comic book movement? But not this guy. The character is played by Aaron Johnson, and he intends to fight crime all by his lonesome. Because who wants to live in a world where people idly watch evil every day? Along the way he hopes to have a girlfriend. He calls himself “Kick-Ass” and he pokes at the edges of our communal apathy. He’s a one-man counterargument to the “we all watched, but no one helped” psychology of the moment. He is, without a doubt, hopelessly outgunned.

Enter Mark Strong, the baddie from Sherlock Holmes, as the baddie here. Both Kick-Ass and the father-daughter duo of Big Daddy and Hit Girl will have dealings with him. But that’s wandering too far down the plot highway, and not at all the point of this review. But know that this film is funnier than you’d think, more violent than you’d guess, and more effective than the trailers indicate.

That said, Kick-Ass is certainly offensive. And stepping back from the art itself, you could make a compelling argument that the mixed messages of condemning “bad guys” while espousing a radical and reactionary counter-offensive is both logically and morally bankrupt. As for me? I can’t find the distance to step back from the work, and as such I really enjoyed myself. There’s a scene in Kick-Ass, one I don’t dare ruin, filled with strobe lights and fire, punctuated by first-person shooter camera work, bodies dropping all over the place. Light and sound fused, mixed and brewed with a coiled action, a scene that can’t help but emotionally draw you in. It’s those scenes I keep going back to when I’m thinking about Kick-Ass, that moment of being up against the wall, but knowing you’re in the right.

Most of the lessons in Kick-Ass are juvenile, but Lordy are they stylishly told. Even more than that, you feel something while watching Kick-Ass, and that something is worth more than all the judgment and intellect in the world. Do you remember feeling something when you watched movies? It was just a moment ago, just out of reach, just the slow dying whisper of a tiny little girl.

Grade: A


Categories: Reviews

Tags: Kick-ass, Matthew vaughn, Movie reviews