“With no power comes no responsibility”, a soundbite from a movie haphazardly constructed out of the same and encapsulates its nihilistic fetishism of violence to a tee. But perhaps I get ahead of myself.
The movie supposedly centres around Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), a teenager whose very existence in high school seems to go unnoticed by everyone including his crush Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca). Deciding one day after being mugged that the world needs a real superhero and in spite of his friends telling him he’ll get his ass kicked or even killed, he assumes the identity of Kick-Ass. Becoming an internet sensation, he soon encounters Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Mortez), a homicidal 11 year old and her father Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) who are out to get revenge on Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong).
Having never read the comic book source material, it’s potentially bright, incisive and cleverly written but what I was forced to watch was a film so poorly constructed that it was held together by sticky tape and vignettes of abject violence predominantly carried out by a child with serial killer tendencies. The fact that Kick-Ass himself is incapable of fully committing himself to such wanton acts of destruction invariably leads to him becoming a secondary character in his own movie, with Hit Girl and Big Daddy filling the void.
Characters are as paper thin as the pages they were given life on, never showing any development beyond a gradual (and I only say gradual because of the rather hefty 2 hour running time) descent into a cynical moral vacuum full of gay jokes and obsessions with sex. After Dave has slipped on his costume there is no consideration for what is right or wrong anymore, the very thing he stands for abandoned until superheroes become no more than vigilantes with no concern for human life or anything other than personal justice.
Subverting a genre is a great idea, but with such a derivative nature and overlong script chockablock with nothing it’s hard to see where director Matthew Vaughn is trying to take this. Lines from famous movies are thrown about so often that it starts to feel like the movie round of a pub quiz with Bríd the Benson smoker calling out the questions beforehand. A structural balance between comedy and apparent seriousness is never realized either, with the acting and writing so poorly constructed in the latter that it emulates a ham radio production with added masturbation. Even with the former, the puerile sense of humour which is the piece’s saving grace is damaged by Cage’s attempt at an Adam West accent amongst other poorly executed moments; he can now safely strike comedy off his list of roles to accept (along with his previous attempts at romantic films). Even Vaughn’s direction flitters from mimicking one well known style to another adding to the surreal and ultimately derivative feel.
It just isn’t fully realized one way or another. In trying to do so much and remain nonchalant about it, it achieves very little when all it needed was a clearer vision and an improved flow to avoid exhausting itself. I can happily sit through and enjoy something over the top and violent, but it shouldn’t schizophrenically take itself too seriously one moment and dismiss itself the next in doing so. A 90 minute run-time and focus on violence and comedy would perhaps have suited it better.