Just as Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) cannot understand why no-one has tried to become a superhero in Matthew Vaughn’s first American film (after Layer Cake and Stardust in the UK, before X-Men First Class), so too it is difficult to understand why no-one has made a film about someone trying to become a superhero. It’s such a forehead-slappingly simple premise that you assume someone else must have already done it. Of course, since then the likes of Defendor (starring Woody Harrelson) and Super (with Rainn Wilson) have put their spin on the idea, and received less critical acclaim and box office revenue in return, as they have failed to match the level of absurdity, shock or brilliance of Kick-Ass, based on Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s excellent graphic novel. And, they don’t have a 10-year old girl calling a room full of drug dealers cunts and being shot in the chest by her doting father.
Using a scuba suit, rubber gloves, self-taught nunchuck skills and the inability to pain and a partially metal skeleton gained from wildly overestimating his ability to take down some thugs, Dave transforms into Kick-Ass, soon becoming an Internet sensation after being caught on a cameraphone helping a victim of a gang crime.
Meanwhile, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage, channelling original Batman Adam West with a kiddy-fiddler moustache) and daughter Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) already exist as superheroes, albeit far more covertly than Kick-Ass, and are trying to take down crime kingpin Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), whose nerdy son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) goes to school with Dave, and thinks he can help his Dad by becoming Kick-Ass’ sidekick, Red Mist.
Whilst very much an origin story, this neatly sidesteps being bogged down in exposition and training montages with the already established Big Daddy, whose backstory is succinctly covered in a well-played comic book style. The standout though is Moretz, clearly having clocked some serious training in both combat and knife skills, despatching the aforementioned gang of hoodlums with all manner of weaponry; stabbing, shooting and dismembering as though an everyday occurrence, although there’s a fair chance that for her it actually is. There is some truly amazing music to kill people to as well, with Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation being a particular favourite.
Choose film 7/10