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'Kick-Ass' kicks ass

Article Published: Apr. 26, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
'Kick-Ass' kicks ass

Aaron Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz star in 'Kick-Ass.'

Kick-Ass is not your typical comic book movie.

In fact, it's not even your typical movie.

This brutally entertaining action comedy has all the trappings of a director's vision. It's as if director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake) told studio executives to take their PG-13 rating and shove it, resulting in an uninhibited, creative film that screams fun, along with some other choice profanity.

Ultra violent, gleefully profane and remarkably character-driven, Kick-Ass breaks the well-established comic book movie mould, while maintaining an ever-present awareness that it is, in fact, a comic book movie.

Based on Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s 2008-10 Marvel Comics series, Kick-Ass is the story of teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson, The Illusionist), an average high-schooler with not-so-average ambitions.

After being mugged in broad daylight, with not a single witness or passerby offering aid, he grows tired of this fear-based apathy and decides to make a stand.

Donning an Internet-ordered scuba suit, work boots and nightsticks, Dave - after a brief stint of self-training - hits the streets as crime-fighting crusader Kick-Ass, hoping to strike fear into the criminal element. Instead, the criminal element strikes into Kick-Ass, making short work of the overwhelmed hero and leaving him a bloody, swollen mess on the pavement.

But Dave finds that the ensuing stay at the hospital has yielded some fortunate surprises - his nerve endings have been desensitized, boosting his threshold for pain, and his broken bones have been mended with steel. As an ardent comic book fan, he immediately feels a kinship with Wolverine of -X-Men- fame, and a newfound confidence.

Building his strength and biding his time, Dave trains more extensively before his second outing, in which he manages to defeat a group of thugs and have a video of the incident posted on YouTube. Kick-Ass goes viral, and before Dave knows what's happening, his alter-ego is an Internet sensation with a cult following.

His newfound fame attracts the attention of Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage, The Bad Lieutenant) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz, Diary of a Wimpy Kid), a deadly father and daughter crime-fighting duo waging war - and revenge - on the same local crime syndicate that Kick-Ass has unknowingly provoked. The three form a loose alliance and continue to fight the good fight, albeit in their own unique ways, as the situation grows more dangerous with each passing minute.

From its get-go, the story wittingly follows the standard super-hero arc with Kick-Ass, offering beaucoups of knowing winks along the way. Though we've seen this tale before, the writing efforts of Vaughn and Jane Goldman (with whom he wrote Stardust) keep it surprisingly fresh and always engaging.

Kick-Ass takes a turn for the even-better with the introduction of Batman-esque Big Daddy and half-pint Hit Girl, two characters who all but steal the show. Cage brings his manic best to this intriguing - and hilarious - character, a doting father who home-schools his 11-year-old daughter in martial arts and advanced weaponry.

In turn, Moretz shocks and stuns with her filthy vernacular and ultra-violent attacks, cussing, slicing and dicing her way through scores of foes, like a miniature Uma Thurman in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.

A scene in which Big Daddy trains Hit Girl to take a bullet in the chest is one for the books (a special trailer devoted to this scene is available on YouTube), a shining example of Kick-Ass's offbeat and abundantly colorful humor.

And its supporting cast is hardly paint-by-numbers. Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes) is sufficiently menacing as the film's primary antagonist, both he and his pantheon of goons paying loving homage to their stereotypes, while Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin of Superbad), as wormy quasi-hero Red Mist, provides a fun foil for the altruistic Kick-Ass.

The same goes for Dave's wisecracking high school buddies (Clark Duke, Hot Tub Time Machine; and Evan Peters, Mama's Boy) and love interest (Lyndsy Fonseca, Hot Tub Time Machine) - fresh and funny takes on those normal cliches found in most mainstream superhero movies.

Kick-Ass realizes, though, that in this genre, "normal" is the last thing anyone should expect. And it delivers.

Kick-Ass, rated R for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use, some involving children, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone.

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