Movie News & Reviews

'Kick-Ass' proves to be ultrabadass

Every single day, movies inspire Earth's impressionable youth to fightback against German terrorists, stand toe-to-toe with slavering alienqueens and march into Mordor with nothing more than a couple knivesand a bag of salt.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

Yes, in the meat grinder of life imitating ridiculous action movies,it's a constant frenzy to repopulate as our unintentionally suicidaloffspring, who aren't even old enough to drive yet, build and operatetime machines only to be eaten by dinosaurs. I don't know why we keeptrying when our kids are so dumb they'll end up getting blown up in adogfight with Darth Vader anyway, but I guess nonstop screwing is justour cross to bear.

Or none of that stuff happens ever. You be the judge. If yourjudgment condemns all movies kids would get hurt imitating, however,you'll probably want to nuke Kick-Ass from orbit. It's the onlyway to be sure.

Tired of everyone just standing around watching while bad people dobad things, high school nobody Aaron Johnson decides to become asuperhero. As Kick-Ass, he ends up stabbed and beaten, but video ofhis efforts sparks an Internet sensation.

When a confrontation with drug dealers goes sour, Johnson's saved byNicolas Cage and daughter Chloe Moretz, masked vigilantes inspired byhis heroics. But they're the real deal — well-trained and heavilyarmed, they're ready to wage war on Mark Strong, the drug kingpingunning for Johnson's hide.

None of which would suggest Kick-Ass is totally damn crazy.

Its trailers were small masterpieces of misdirection. "Oh, yeah, it'sjust this funny movie about kid superheroes," they said. "Did weforget to mention Moretz, who's like 11 years old, kills more goonsthan Italian sausage and spills more blood than a nurse withParkinson's?"

On top of that, it's way epic. Its arc is just a little more complexthan Johnson donning colors so bright he'd shame a wildflower, gettinghis ass kicked, then training really, really hard until hisdream of altruistic face-smashing comes true. He's more of an ensembleplayer in an ambitious story of vengeance, betrayal, high schoolromance and family tragedy.

In most cases, this would be a long-winded way of saying "Set sail forsuck." Director/cowriter Matthew Vaughn doesn't always keep a firmhand on the multitude of people, side plots and interwoven backstory.Even at two hours, Kick-Ass can feel rushed, spending toolittle time developing its characters and fleshing out the details ofJohnson's transformation into a second-rate superhero.

But you know the other reason Kick-Ass feels rushed? Becauseit's a freight train with its brakes cut, which doesn't even matterbecause that train is strapped to the back of a rocket ship headed forInsanitytown, USA.

Vaughn directs the hell out of his action scenes. I haven't hadmy guts stirred so hard by movie violence since InglouriousBasterds. It's not just the high style or the novelty of a littlegirl slaughtering legions of grown men. It's the conflict betweenMoretz's sound reasons for doing so and the realization she and DaddyCage are utterly psychotic.

Grounded by this psychology and a darkly funny script, the movieplants one (admittedly shaky) foot in our world and the other in thebright gore of comic books. It's a smart but visceral experience,ultrabadass but just a little too big for Vaughn to control.

Often, Kick-Ass feels like a great movie trying to break free from amerely fun one — but there's no denying it's a thrilling and throttlingride.

Grade: B+