Re-Watch: Kick-Ass (2010)

Kick-Ass
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Based on: the comic book by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Nicolas Cage, Lyndsy Fonseca
[Here is my first review.]

Plot:
Dave (Aaron Johnson) is a normal teenager who likes to read comic books and gets beat up a lot. But then one day he decides that, actually, nothing is keeping him from donning a superhero suit and changing the world for the better. This seems to work fine for about 30 seconds and then Dave is in over his head.

Damn, I had forgotten just how fricking awesome this film is. I still have a couple of issues but I left the film absolutely hyped. It’s fantastic.

kick-ass

[SPOILERS]

Before I gush about almost everything, let me point out the things that didn’t work for me. A) the ending still sucks. I mean it hurts the story that Kick-Ass uses a fucking bazooka to kill Frank D’Amico (and why is his name D’Amico and not Genovese?). I thought that it took the story in a wrong direction. And that Kick-Ass saves Hit-Girl was just wrong. Hit-Girl don’t need no saving and being carried off into the sunset. And I missed Mindy’s mom.

Generally most of the storyline changes from the comic – like Big Daddy’s backstory, and the fucking Katie storyline that is still so dumb – are for the worse in the film. (Red Mist’s story is debatable. Personally I don’t have a preference for either way that it’s played out. Both work for me.) But the movie does a better job of telling the stories than the comic, so I didn’t mind that much. Also, it felt like the film made more of Kick-Ass as a character, they got deeper into Dave’s head, than the comic.

kick-ass2

And we’re already smack-dab in the gushing part of this review. Matthew Vaughn is a fucking genius. The story-telling is pitch-perfect: the pacing is spot-on, the editing is awesome and best of all, holy soundtrack, Batman! It again hit me how great the soundtrack is. Not only are the songs themselves wonderful, they’re all used at exactly the right moment in exactly the right way. When Kick-Ass takes on the guys in front of the store, I had trouble staying in my seat – the tension was just so palpable.

And the cast is brilliant, too. Starting with Aaron Taylor-Johnson (who is still the sexiest teenager ever [well he’s not a teen anymore – which is good for my conscience – but he was back then and you kow]), who manages to keep Dave naive, despite all the violence and awful things, but also Mark Strong and Nicolas Cage who play their respective characters with so much relish, it’s a joy to watch. And Chloe Moretz is a scene-stealer par excellence.

I could re-watch it again straight away.

kick-ass1

Summarizing: funfunfun.

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8 thoughts on “Re-Watch: Kick-Ass (2010)

  1. To be honest, I think that changing Big Daddys backstory (which also means that you HAVE to lose Mindy’s mum) was one of the most clever things they did with this movie. It’s really what gives “Kick-Ass” its heart – and of course I love that in the beginning, they make fun of revenge stories, only to then feature a revenge story ;-). Also, I didn’t mind Hit-Girl having to be saved by Kick-Ass. Hell, she was still a f*cking GIRL. That Frank D’Amico beat the crap out of her was a little hint of realism in an otherwise gloriously over the top ending.

    And if you show a bazooka on the wall in act 1, you HAVE to fire it in act 3. It’s Chekhovs law! ;-)

    • I can’t agree about Big Daddy’s storyline: the original one from the comic was one of the best things about it. A genuine take-down of the usually ridiculous origin stories; a clever comment on how all these people construct their own stories and lives and if you just pretend convincingly enough, it’ll work; and a pretty good dark and macabre joke.
      What gives Kick-Ass its heart, to me, is Kick-Ass’ idealism, his general joy at being able to do something and the enthusiasm with which he goes about it. And of course Hit-Girl’s badassery.
      That Hit-Girl is just a little girl doesn’t matter much the rest of the film, does it? She kills and beats the crap out of many people (even at the same time), all of them multiple times her size. And I didn’t mind so much that she needed help or that she got beaten, but the fact that the film spends its entirety setting her up as the more competent of the two and then he doesn’t only save her, but he carries her off in the usual damsel-in-distress imagery and that blows.

      • One more thing concernig Hit-Girl: During the entire movie, she has some weapons at her disposal. Handguns, knifes, swords… But when she faces Frank D’Amico, she has only got her fists. A girl may be able to shoot you or stab you, but even with a movie like “Kick-Ass” having her dispose of D’Amico in hand to hand combat would stretch credibility way too far.

        • That’s an interesting point to the draw the line between credibility and not. I don’t think that it would have stretched my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point.

          But even if it was going too far, there was no actual reason for Frank to be a martial artist (in the comic he isn’t and it’s not really a classical mobster thing).
          But even if Frank had to be a martial artist, there was no actual reason that Hit-Girl had to have run out of weapons at that point.
          But even if she did have to have no weapons anymore, there was no actual reason for the traditional and very irksome “boy saves girl and carries her like a baby” way Kick-Ass saves her. He could have helped, for example, by making Frank stumble or distracting him that she got the upper hand just long enough.

          These were all choices the writers made and they were pretty sexist choices designed to give Kick-Ass the advantage in a situation where the entire film had established Hit-Girl was more competent in. And I do criticize them for that.

          • Hit-Girl was out, it was a situation of life and death. Frank had a gun in his hand. What would you have had Kick-Ass do that would have been quick enough to disarm him, and then have him wait out long enough for Hit-Girl to have recovered so that she can start and fight again? IMHO, he had to hit him quickly. I’m also not sure what’s so damning about him carrying her out of the office and flying off into the sunrise with her. Even after all that it still was clear to me that Hit-Girl is the more competent one. Hell, she’s the one that got rid of most of Franks henchman within 20 seconds. But she’s not invulnerable. Sometimes even the most competent and independent girls can need a little help ;-). (as do boys/men, by the way). I do not see why that is immediately a bad thing that somehow diminishes them.

          • And isn’t it convenient that we end up time and time again in situations where women/girls are out of it and where there’s no other option than the men have to save them?

            Look, I’m not questioning the internal integrity of the scene. I agree that the way it was set up, neither Hit-Girl nor Kick-Ass had many options to do things differently.
            But that’s the thing with fiction: the writers choose the set-up. They choose how the scenes look like, what options the characters have and how they react to it. Yes, they are limited, at least if they take their own writing seriously, by what they set-up before. But it was far from inevitable that the show-down had to have Hit-Girl beaten unconscious, to be saved by Kick-Ass. (And if they would have taken their own rules seriously, Kick-Ass would never have been able to save Hit-Girl.)

            Again, as I said, I don’t mind so much that Hit-Girl was beaten or that Kick-Ass had to help her. I’m quite aware that people need help every once in a while. Nobody has to be perfect or invincible.
            But I did mind that the ending undermines the entire competency that it gave Hit-Girl earlier. I mind that Kick-Ass’s saving her was less helping and more doing everything for her. To use an analogy: they’re both guitar players, right? Only that Hit-Girl plays on a professional level and Kick-Ass just started out teaching himself to strum some camping songs. But at the big concert, Hit-Girl happens to be incapacitated, so he takes her guitar and plays the concert for her, with the same level of professionalism. That’s not helping. Helping would be if he held the music sheets for her or something. That’s taking away from her and diminishing her training and her abilities because even he can do it.

            And the thing about carrying her off: This image, of the dude carrying the woman in his arms, has been often used and it’s quite iconic. And what it stands for is that you have the hero who just successfully completed his mission and saved the world and the love of his life/lay of this hour and now he gets to take his price aka the woman and leave. It’s an image that is all about the man, that makes the woman an object to be won and that takes all agency from her – so much so that she isn’t even allowed to walk on her own (be it because she’s hurt too much, like in this case – again, the writers’ choice). And that’s why I hate it. That’s why I think it diminishes Hit-Girl’s character. She becomes an object in Kick-Ass’s ending instead of the teacher and partner she was before.

  2. Pingback: Kick-Ass 2 (2013) | Stuff

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