Hollywood pitches are (I hear) accomplished with the tried-and-true formula of ___________(insert name of flick) is ________ (insert name of one hit movie) meets _____________ (insert name of second, unrelated hit movie). The prospect of doubling your profits, doubling your fun to financiers means there won’t be a dry seat in the house. This formula has given us iconic flicks like Desperado (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly meets Anything directed by Sam Peckinpah), modern classics like Titanic (Poseidon Adventure meets Romeo + Juliet) and crapalicious, pretentious pieces of crap like Brokeback Mountain (any classic Western meets gay porn). So it was with a modicum of surprise, when I found that Kick-Ass fit the formula of Superhero Movie meets Reservoir Dogs. And it works.
Here’s a heads-up. DO NOT TAKE YOUR KIDS TO SEE THIS MOVIE. It features on-screen, graphic violence in a flick that makes Saving Private Ryan look like F-Troop, The Movie. I mean, this flick is violent. REALLY violent. And not “cartoon” violent. I mean bullets through eyeballs, dismemberment with bloody parts flying, may Tarantino look like a bush-league amateur on the blood-O-meter violent. And it works. Mostly.
Kick-Ass is the story (teken from the pages of Mark Millar’s violent comic tale of wannabe superheroes) of a High School nebbish/comic book fanboy, who asks the soon-to-be less than rhetorical question, “Why aren’t their any real superheroes?” He quickly decides to remedy this deficit, donning a home-made wetsuit costume, and going out to fight for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.
As it happens, his first time out of the gate, he gets his ass kicked (in a bit of intentional irony) and ends up in the hospital where he ends up with enough pins and shanks in him to give Wolverine a run for his money, and nerve damage so he becomes more-or-less impervious to pain.
You’d think that abject failure as a costumed crimefighter would cause him to give it up. But noooo…he heads back once more, dear friends, into the breach. At that point, things get, shall we say, interesting. His exploits are uploaded to YouTube, and he becomes an overnight sensation and media darling, attracting the attention of both a crime syndicate and a couple of other costumed vigilantes.
I won’t tell you a lot more about the plot (you’ve got to see it, to really appreciate it) but let’s just say that seeing Nicholas Cage do his Adam West doing Batman impression is alone worth the price of admission. Chloë Grace Moretz steals the movie as Mindy Mcready/Hit Girl. There’s something about seeing a pre-pubescent, sweet-faced kid as a pint-sized Uma Thurman in Kill Bill that is simultaneously shocking, riveting, and hilarious. With the appearance of Cage and Moretz, the story picks up momentum and morphs into a twisted tale of righteous revenge. (How’s THAT for alliteration?)
But this is TTAG, and you wanna know about the guns, don’t you? Well, bunkie, lemme tell ya, when it comes to firepower, this flick’s got the goods.
From virtually any handgun you can name, to AKs, ARs, a bazooka (!) and the secret weapon (SPOILER ALLERT:) a cross between a Bell Rocket Belt and a double-gatling gun, they’ve got you covered. Literally. If you thought that scene in Wanted rocked when Angelina Jolie put the sports car into a skid to scoop up James McAvoy as he stands in the middle of the road, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.
Wait until you see Hit Girl flip down a hallway-cum-abattoir, simultaneously eject two magazines from a semi-auto in each hand, then toss up two fresh magazines in the air, and bring down the empty guns to catch them, loading them into the grips at the same time. Took my breath away, it did. I’m gonna have to go back and see the thing again, just to watch that scene to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Great googly moogly!
The climactic scene involves some massive willing suspension of disbelief (as if the rest of the flick was believable). The physics of a rocket jet pack are, at least for now, more or less impractical for anything short of a brief hover. That part I was willing to give the filmmakers. But when you fire a gun from a position where you’re hovering in the air, there’s this nasty little “every action has an equal and opposite REaction” thing that would make it damn near impossible to hover with a jet pack and simultaneously fire dual gatling guns and hold your position. I mean, really.
Then there’s the issue of positioning the gatling barrels over the shoulders, which puts them right at ear-level. There ain’t a pair of cans on the market today that would keep you from going deaf with that kind of firepower blasting away in stereo, upside yo’ head. Trust me on this one. But if you’re willing to pretend this all makes sense, it makes for one Hell of a climax.
So if you have a high tolerance for blood ‘n guts, like your action movies with a high body count, enjoy Nick Cage chewing scenery, and don’t mind seeing a small girl child swearing like a Portugese sailor, I highly recommend Kick-Ass as high-quality, escapist fare. If you were expecting a comedy, kids movie, or your stereotypical, costumed superhero movie, keep looking elsewhere.
In general release now
Rated R for strong, graphic violence throughout, pervasive foul language including foul language from children, sexual content, brief, partial nudity and some drug use.
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Studio: Lions Gate Films