Kick-Ass: With No Power Comes No Responsibility?
“Kick-Ass,” directed by Matthew Vaughn, is an action flick full of almost cartoonish violence and plenty of explosions. But I still liked it. No, I loved it, and I’ve hated almost every action-packed-stuff-goes-boom movie I’ve ever seen. What’s different here is that the story is much more grounded. People get hurt, and it hurts them. Bullets fly, and find their targets. Getting involved in a knife fight could get you killed.
Dave Lizewski (played by Aaron Johnson, who shines in this role) is a regular kid who, like many other guys his age, hangs around with his few friends, searches internet for porn, reads comics, and dreams of being something more. Finally, dream becomes reality and he takes that step that no one ever does. As a result, you are terrified and mortified every time Kick-Ass, aka Dave, sets his foot outside in his ridiculous costume.
The movie is more than just fun. Without beating anyone over the head with morals, it touches on real issues. The voyeuristic aspect of our culture is directly addressed in several scenes in this movie. Kick-Ass becomes famous because someone videotapes him in action on their cell-phone, instead of helping, or even calling the police. As the movie unfolds and we watch Dave deal with school, crush on a girl, and glory silently in his new-found fame and hobby, we also watch him quickly sink in way over his head. As he starts to understand that what he’s doing is more real than he’s ready for, he is also realizing that he can’t let things be as they are. Being a victim has become part of his daily life, and he has watched other people victimized, feeling he should do something but feeling out of place, foolish, and scared. We can relate to this. In his costume he starts anew, but the rubber scuba suit isn’t quite the same as a set of muscles and a serious selection of weapons.
Enter honest to god bad-asses, Big Daddy and Hit Girl, disillusioned ex-cop and his 11-year old daughter. They are perfectly unreal, but they are also what was needed to take this story from a tragedy of misguided youth to a story of vengeance, death, and triumph. Mindy, aka Hit-Girl (played by Chloë Moretz, also starring in “The Diary of a Whimpy Kid”), is a little disturbing as a murderous foul mouth. Big Daddy (played by Nicolas Cage) is a single-minded sociopath who is training his kid to become a weapon.
The bad guy in this story is Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), who rules the criminal underworld. His son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is willing to do anything to gain acceptance and prove himself worthy of taking on “the business.” The story isn’t new, but over and over, we glimpse a simple truth: parents tell their children what “normal” means. It’s chilling.
The movie is somehow still pretty lighthearted and funny. There is plenty of fast banter overrun with dick jokes that we’ve become familiar with ever since “Superbad,” “Year One” and recently “Hot Tub Time Machine.” Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Clark Duke (playing Marty, Dave’s friend) did a great job taking care of that. Evan Peters (Dave’s other friend Todd) brought up the rear. Also, probably unintentional, but I thought it was funny that Dave’s school, trying to exude a sense of danger and having to grow up hard with its ever present graffiti and metal detectors was filled with white middle class kids who had everything they needed, including plenty of cash.
Obviously, I recommend you go see this flick. It’s got great action sequences, which are also smart and fun. The cast is excellent, the plot is better than could have been expected for a movie based on a comic book (which I haven’t read yet, so this might be an unfair statement). And, to get back to the title question… if “with power comes responsibility” is true, is the inverse true as well? To answer this little logic problem you just have to watch the movie, or you know, think about it a little.