Monday, April 19, 2010

This film kicks some ass

Three stars

By Gary Buiso

“Kick-Ass” is the “Sixteen Candles” for a generation weened on ultra-violence: equal parts coming of age comedy and John Woo action flick — a canny amalgam of sweetness and brutality.

The film, based on Mark Millar’s comic book series, begins predictably enough but quickly veers off to irreverence, driven by idiosyncratic performances and confident direction that never forgets that at its core, “Kick-Ass” is a comic book of a movie — it should be over the top.

Teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is living an otherwise normal, if unremarkable high school life: “Like most people my age, I just existed,” he says. Teen angst/earnestness prompt him to become a superhero — while admitting his only power at the moment is “being invisible to girls.”

Internet stardom ensues, and organized crime takes notice — after all, superheroes dressed as lucha libre wrestlers are bad for business. And it turns out there’s more than one superhero in town. Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chole Moretz) have been putting the hurt on the mob in bloody fashion. Big Daddy’s an ex-cop with an ax to grind, and his 11-year-old daughter is his disciple, trained to be a cold-blooded — but very cute — killer. Think “The Manchurian Candidate” meets “Hannah Montana.”

Even the mob boss’s nerdy son, played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin from “Superbad”), gets in on the act, donning a cape and becoming Red Mist, in an effort to help the family business.

Hit Girl is the star of the caped crusaders, but most of the cast shines, including Cage, who even through his Adam West impersonation manages a bit of weird gravitas.

Director Matthew Vaughn (“Star Dust”) relishes the action sequences, ritualizing the bloodbath with rock and roll, but keeping his characters’ grounded enough to be entirely endearing.

Who needs Iron Man? Kick-Ass has a heart of gold.

“Kick-Ass.” Rated R for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, and sexual content. 117 minutes. With Aaron Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong and Lyndsy Fonseca.


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