High school nerd Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) draws on his love of comic books and decides to make a difference in the world and become a real superhero. He learns early on that it’s just not that easy. Sticking to his guns (and with a keen ability to take a beating), he perseveres – becoming an internet sensation and inspiring others to follow in his path…becoming a true hero.
When Dave decides to be a hero, things go badly. His first attempt at stopping crime nearly kills him, but leaves with the ability to take a beating and keep coming. And really, that’s what it’s all about: the ability to keep getting back up when you get knocked down. Largely by accident his path crosses that of the local drug kingpin and the two are thrust into mortal combat. Dave (aka Kick-Ass) also attracts the attention of two other erstwhile heroes, Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage), who have the polish and skill the Kick-Ass so badly lacks. Together, we see the three of them gear up for a final confrontation against the forces of evil.
I went into this movie expecting something close to “Mystery Men” and couldn’t have been further off the mark. This is an all-around great movie. Aaron Johnson is phenomenal, as is Moretz. Nicolas Cage is Nicolas Cage, but it works – he comes across as an Everyman who has been thrust into the role of the Dark Knight and isn’t sure if he’s a hero, a victim or a field general in the battle between good and evil. There are some shockingly touching and powerful moments, the occasional “jump” and a whole lot of introspection. Why do we need heroes? Would we ever really want to be one? What makes someone a hero anyway? Kick-Ass explores all of these as he tries to carve out a niche for himself in a world that he just wants to make better with no clear idea of if that’s even possible.
If there’s one knock on the film, it’s on the clumsy “teen” opening. In trying to paint Dave as the everyday high school geek, the film goes overboard in selling him as a flailing extra from films like “Super Bad”, but everything that works for the maladjusted teens in that movie flies in the face of a guy who wants to save the world. The film abandons that after about twenty minutes, so it feels even more out of place in retrospect, but you soon forget about it once things get moving.
Offering a new twist on the comic hero theme, this is a great movie. It, well, kicks ass.