Review: ‘Kick Ass’

Orgazmo (minus the Mormons and pornography) meets Shoot ‘Em Up. Fun, not as plausible as you might like, and very, very dark.

The closest thing that Dave Lizewsk (Aaron Johnson) has to an actual superpower is being invisible to girls. Still, after being bullied and mugged by toughs and thugs, he begins to wonder why no one has actually put on a mask and stood up for a victim rather than stand around not getting involved. Taking the name “Kick Ass,” Dave’s first rescue ends in disaster, but his perseverance pays off when he becomes an online viral sensation. As imitators start to appear and move up from stopping muggings to killing drug dealers, real-life bad guy Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) needs to put out a message: being a super hero can be hazardous to your health.

The idea sounds plausible: put on a mask, find a crime, and get involved (it worked for Batman, right, that and a b’jillion dollars?) Before the movie gets too far along, the introduction of Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nic Cage) reveal that things aren’t just going to escalate, they’re going to explode. It’s actually amazing how restrained the final cut is considering all the special effects opportunities that were passed up, but in the end it’s really a geek empowerment film with a lot of gun play and some very dark humor.

It ‘s beginning to feel as though Ryan Reynolds and Nic Cage are in some kind of competition to see who can play the most super heroes. At least to Cage’s credit, he’s willing to play some new ones and not just the ones people are standing in line for. Also adding to the pedigree of the production is “McLovin” Christopher Mintz-Plasse, but his decidedly darker turn may be an indication he’s ready for more adult fare rather than another coming-of-age piece. Also on board was Yancy Butler in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her appearance as a mob mom; did she have a larger part that was lost on the cutting room floor, or maybe prepping for the eventual sequel?

The R-rating for this film might as well have stood for “reload,” because the only film with more gun play in recent memory was the intentionally over-the-top Shoot ‘Em Up. The dark turn that the film takes past most of the recognizable trailer bits is pretty grim considering the one dolling out the most death is supposed to be thirteen years old. If you were hoping to see a perfectly normal group of people taking masked vigilantism a little too far with a little humor thrown in, ask yourself how amusing it would be to watch a man pop like a hot dog in an industrial-sized microwave. That said, if movies like Smokin’ Aces and Shoot ‘Em Up are your cup of tea with a little super hero dress up thrown in for color, there’s more than enough vengeful justice here to keep you entertained.

(a three skull recommendation out of four)

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