Mosaic / Reviews / May 20, 2010

Kick-ass superheroes defy cliche

There is only one way to describe the new movie Kick-Ass — it’s pretty kick ass. From the main character Dave Lizewski aka the superhero without superpowers Kick-Ass (but only between the hours of 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.) to the mysterious 11-year old menace Hit Girl, capable of destroying a whole room full of mooks with bloody mayhem, the characters in the movie are memorable and gripping.

Based only on the previews of the movie, it seems like it would be a bland and banal summer Hollywood offering, pandering only to that golden box office demographic of 18-to-25 year old males. However, it winds up being so much more than stupid jokes and gallons of blood spewed across the screen.

To be sure, Kick-Ass has plenty of both. The violence is worthy of Quentin Tarantino and the jokes are, though perhaps milder, in the same vein as Superbad. That said, the movie carries itself, with a surprising amount of grace, on the strength of the characters and story.

Without giving too much away, the story follows a traditional superhero arch, examining the origins of several superheroes (though in this world no one has super-powers). The real conceit of the movie, though there are super-heroes in this city, they are super not because of any special powers, but because they act like superheroes. But underneath the bubblegum coating of ordinary people doing the right thing, there is a sinister story of crime and revenge.

Hit Girl, the movie’s most intriguing and disturbing character is an 11-year-old girl killer bent on avenging her dead mother. She has been turned into a flawless and perfect killing machine in pigtails and a skirt by her revenge-obsessed father, Big Daddy. The father and daughter team traipse around the city in superhero garb, fighting crime and slowly tightening a noose around their enemies.

As Hit Girl and Big Daddy get close to their target, mild-mannered goody-two-shoes Kick-Ass gets caught up in their war and is forced to deal with real violence, betrayal and danger, forcing him to question the beliefs he has decided to profess. As Kick-Ass matures from searching for lost cats to actually kicking some major ass, we are forced to ask ourselves how Hit Girl will fare in the world.

In Kick-Ass a simple, cut and dried superhero story takes on new depth and greater importance as the viewer is forced to examine their own beliefs of what it means to be a hero and what right action is.

Ben Reeves

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