Violence wins

Comic-book flick turns a child star into a full-on action diva

Chloe Moretz … well, she kicks ass as the crime-fightin’ Hit Girl.

Chloe Moretz … well, she kicks ass as the crime-fightin’ Hit Girl.

Kick-Ass Starring Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Nicolas Cage and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Feather River Cinemas, Paradise Cinema 7 and Tinseltown. Rated R.
Rated 4.0

Kick-Ass is a difficult film to pin down. On the one hand, it’s a nerdy teen flick, where the protagonist takes on an alter ego to get the girl. On the other, it’s a merciless revenge movie with a 12-year-old girl caught in the middle of the action. Oh, and we can’t forget the comic-book theme.

Somehow, despite the different genres interplaying here, director Matthew Vaughn (Stardust) pulls it together, making a thought-provoking and graphically beautiful film.

Kick-Ass starts off innocently enough. Goofy teenager Dave (Aaron Johnson), an avid comic-book reader, decides it’s time for a regular guy like him to become a superhero and make the streets safer. This is no fantasy flick, though, and perhaps the fact that it’s fairly rooted in reality makes it all the more memorable. Dave’s first day on the job as Kick-Ass leaves him lying on the road, his silly-looking scuba costume covered in blood, a knife wound in his gut. He doesn’t give up, though, and his second public appearance spirals him to the pinnacle of fame via viral videos taken of him beating the crap out of four thugs outside a diner.

Turns out his meager night-stick skills are nothing compared with those of Hit Girl and Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage), who arrive on the scene of another Kick-Ass beat down. Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz), just 11, appears to be proficient in the art of knife-throwing and sword-slashing. Blood and limbs fly everywhere.

The sudden onslaught of superheroes are causing a problem for drug kingpin Frank (Mark Strong), so he wages his own personal war against them, creating his own superhero-esque Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).

For a film that starts off with that time-tested geek-love premise, Kick-Ass sure goes to some dark places. For Dave/Kick-Ass, he must weigh his newfound responsibility of fighting crime against getting the girl, putting himself in the shoes of many a superhero before him. For the hardcore team of Hit Girl and Big Daddy, however, their disguises are meant less for saving the innocent and more for revenge against evil. Their whole dynamic, when brought to light (with the young Hit Girl dropping F-Bombs and even the C-bomb), is creepy yet somehow endearing. Not your typical action flick.

If you had to categorize Kick-Ass—which is based on a comic book written by Mike Millar, who also penned Wanted—it would probably fall somewhere between Warner Bros. and Quentin Tarantino.

But Tarantino this is not. Though I bet he wishes he’d come up with it.

Cage has lately been a movie killer, but here he is calm and collected, charming even, despite his habit of shooting at Hit Girl’s bullet-proof-vest-covered chest and teaching her knife tricks. It’s Moretz, though, who is the real charmer. It’s simultaneously disturbing and awesome to watch her transform from a cute, pig-tail-wearing tween into a full-on action diva.

Some people may not appreciate this graphic transformation, or won’t be able to look past it. The ones who can will be blown away.