Comic book buff Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) wants to save the country from pointless violence. So he takes to the streets with a mask, a green and yellow scuba suit and a distinct lack of superpowers.
Matthew Vaughn’s “Kick-Ass” is a visually striking and well-edited superhero satire weighed down by gratuitous violence.
The film follows Dave, a high school student, who spends his time wandering the streets as Kick-Ass, the powerless, masked superhero whose sole duty is to help people. Kick-Ass gets in way over his head when he meets masked vigilantes Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) — a vengeful father-and-daughter duo who are trying to take down the city’s corrupt drug lord.
The first half of the film stays true to Mark Millar’s original graphic novel, but “Kick-Ass” fans will be disappointed to see that the darkness and realism of the original comic book doesn’t carry over into the second half. The ending will seem fine to people unfamiliar with the novel, but fans of the story will find the second half “Hollywoodized,” with more action sequences, clichés and happy endings.
Though it didn’t stay true to the story, “Kick-Ass” proves its loyalty to Millar’s original work through the use of fresh, bright imagery. Tilted, camera angles make the moving images look like the pictures in a comic-book pane. There is even a sequence when the film literally descends into the pages of a comic book.
Bright colors also provide an ironic contrast to the dark narrative. Instead of using the cliché method of surrounding the villain in darkness, Vaughn puts the villain in an environment of orange and red tones. Carefully placed props — like the two paintings of guns pointed at each other in the drug lord’s office, hinting at a final duel — add hidden elements of irony and foreshadowing in each scene. These colorful scenes make the images in the film more engaging.
An expertly placed range of music also contributes to the film’s success. The dynamic soundtrack contains songs that appeal to any musical taste, ranging from traditional action film scores to popular hip-hop songs. Since every song is different, the soundtrack never becomes boring.
The action sequences make this film stand out. Unlike most superhero films, “Kick-Ass” uses a different strategy for every action sequence. One battle sequence switches from slow-motion to fast-motion, while another scene takes place to the beat of a strobe light. Though the film is incredibly violent, the violence is presented in new ways so that it remains interesting.
Halfway through the film, “Kick-Ass” loses its focus and becomes hypocritical. The first half appears to be a satire exploring good versus evil, but the second half descends into gratuitous violence, oddly placed comic relief and cliché endings. The whole reason the character Dave dressed himself up as Kick-Ass was to put an end to purposeless violence; yet the film thrives on pointless bloodshed.
This film’s soundtrack and cinematography make it stand out from other graphic novel adaptations. As the title suggests, “Kick-Ass” is a bold, violent and in-your-face film that might not be Oscar-worthy, but it won’t leave audiences feeling disappointed.
“Kick-Ass” was written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn and directed by Matthew Vaughn.