What a quirky little film! From the previews I was expecting more of a comedy, but in fact, Kick-Ass is a teenage angst Tarantino action film gone awry. In it, three main stories converge. In one you have the nerdy comic book reading teenage boy, Dave (Aaron Johnson), who wants to be bigger than life and concocts a superhero persona for himself named Kick-Ass. In another thread a father (Nicolas Cage) trains his 11-year-old daughter (Chloe Moretz) to be his action heroine sidekick in order to exact revenge on the man who ruined their lives. The third storyline is about the big mob boss villain of the piece, Frank (Mark Strong) whose son, the same age as Dave, is desperate for his father’s approval and invents his own comic book identity as Red Mist to try and trap the other superheroes.

Dave as Kick-Ass is Peter Parker only he doesn’t get bitten by a spider and has no special powers whatsoever, just a mail order scuba outfit and a couple of weapons. In his first foray out to rid the world of evil, he is nearly killed. But in his second outing, he creates a scene that it makes it onto YouTube and his crime-fighting cred is cemented. This attention is not all good though, because someone in a superhero outfit recently ripped off Frank, the crime boss in town who decides to go after Kick-Ass. But unbeknownst to anyone, there are a couple of other people going around in clever superhero disguises, that father and daughter, aka Big Daddy and Hit Girl, only they’re a lot more prepared to be fighting, plus they have a huge score to settle with Frank. It seems that 11 years ago Frank framed Big Daddy, a former cop, and put him in jail, and while he was incarcerated, his wife killed herself. This is one of the problems with the film; you have this very serious, too real back-story to explain why this father is turning his little girl into a killing machine.

Kick-Ass is adapted from a comic book and the action scenes are just right in that respect, highly stylized, and very well done. Hit Girl really steals the show when it comes to the carnage. I’ve heard some people have had a problem with this part, a little girl killing machine, but I think the way it is done is pretty comic book. And in places she definitely reminded me of Natalie Portman in The Professional. Dave plays out his comic book role as well; he gets the girl of his dreams and he ultimately steps up to the plate as a real life action hero. And the evil nemesis is taken care of.

Stylistically, Kick-Ass is very uneven, rocking between realism and a comic book sensibility. I wish they’d come down more on the comic book side. I was, however, entertained most of the time. Only when thinking back does it not quite come together as a great movie. I’d recommend it if you want a diversion from the overly effects-driven epic movies out there. It is small, with a pretty decent script and the actors are all good.

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