Kick-Ass is the latest in a long line of comic book adaptations to hit the theaters as of late, but it is certainly not your standard fare of people with unusual powers slapping on some fetish-inspired outfits and fighting crime. Kick-Ass is definitely more from the school of works like Watchmen which instead poses the question of what happens when an average person decides to become a superhero? What could possibly make someone risk their lives in such a way to save other people who will look at them as if they are nuts.
Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is your average high school student that goes through life unnoticed by his classmates save for a pair of friends he goes everywhere with. One day while sitting in the comic book store, Dave begins to ponder why no one has ever tried becoming a hero before. Why hasn't anyone put on a costume and given it a go, helping those in the need that you see in your everyday life?
After seeing someone turn their back on him when he gets mugged, Dave orders a wet suit and decides to go out on the streets to fight crime. One small problem, when you lack in training, you tend to get your ass kicked.
The story then follows as Dave constantly gets embroiled in situations not entirely of his own making as he is unaware of Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and his daughter, Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) waging a two person war on the mob boss of New York City.
What most people will see in this movie is just the extreme violence that has been hinted at in the trailers and film clips, which is definitely extreme to say the least, but the film really does have a message underneath it of how an individual can make a difference. This is summed up in a shot at the end of the film that if you blink, you can miss it. Through out the movie, metal detectors are referred to being at Dave's high school, and you also see that the marquee out front has been vandalized. At the end of the movie, we see the school again, and you can see in the background that the metal detectors are being wheeled away, and as the camera pans past the marquee, all of the graffiti is gone. Apparently, Dave had really made a difference.
Through all the comic book violence, the completely improbable big fight at the end with a completely disconnected-from-reality saving plot device at the most crucial moment, this is actually a movie with heart. You can make a difference, and you are what you choose. Is it the costume that makes the hero? The circumstances? Your upbringing? In the end, it's what's in your soul.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't some preachy message movie, the amount of violence is something to behold, and expect to see a legion of Hit Girl clad women out on Halloween this year. The movie may be named for Kick-Ass, but she is definitely the stand out of the film.
As for the comic book adaptation aspect of this, the question that will come up immediately: Did they stay faithful to the source material? Well … yes and no. Think of the comic more as a framework for the film: Big Daddy's back story is changed, Red Mist has a ton more scenes, the whole storyline with Katie gets a major change and Hit Girl gets a lot more screen time. The most jarring change happens at the very end with Kick-Ass himself, but sadly I can't even hint at it without a major spoiler, but you kind of go, "Really? Would he make that choice?"
All told, I loved it: changes, lumps and all. It was a fun two hours, and I can't wait to see it again on DVD. And make no mistake, this movie is going to have a long, long life on DVD as it has "cult film" written all over it.