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Friday, 3 September 2010

What else is there to say about the already exhaustively commented-on Kick-Ass (dir Matthew Vaughn, 2010)?

OK, so you're a hormonally over-compensated teenager who gets the brush-off from the pretty girls at school and hate it so much you want to eat handfuls of stones dipped in lizard vomit. Your name's Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson). Welcome to your adventure, chum.

You're not cool, not athletic, and not even exceptionally well-endowed in the cranial sector. You're a serial masturbator living in a single-parent household on an entirely ordinary street in a fiendishly-boring suburban backlot without trees or enough money either for decorative driveway coatings or ornamental water features. You're fed up being held up and having your mobile phone taken by the intellectually-handicapped street punks who infest your quarter of the city like bipedal cockroaches and you think it's time to make a difference. It's time to stand up and be counted. Time to affirm without hesitation that there is a thing called 'good' in the world and, because you know what it is, you send away a mail order for a kick-ass full-body suit you discover in a discount catalogue.

Your first foray ends badly: a knife embedded in the stomach followed by a hit-and-run encounter with a late-model sedan driven by a Captain Kirk look-alike. "Rats," you say, but you're not daunted. You get out of hospital filled with enough metal rods and pins to set off the detector stationed at the school entrance and sufficient pluck to don the green uniform once more.

Your second foray gets videoed on the iPhone of a rubber-necking neighbourhood drop-out and posted to YouTube, where you discover instant celebrity. Your hit count skyrockets faster than the blood pressure of a fifty-five-year-old bottle-a-day man forced to run a half-marathon and you set up a MySpace page where you can chat with the legions of adoring fans who fawn on you after seeing you single-handedly confront four well-muscled boofheads and protect the target of their ill-concieved but all-too-common rage.

Oddly, the good-looking girl thinks you're gay - because you asked the ambulance staff to tell the police you were found naked (you are keen to protect your true identity) and the police report gets into the media and onto TV - but you play along because you think it might allow you to touch her lithe, young body. (You're absolutely right, dude. Congratulations.)

Then something happens that you could never have imagined in the remotest corner of your fevered imagination. Intent on saving Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca) from any more anxious encounters with a pesky drug addict, whom she routinely meets at the needle-exchange office where she volunteers nights, you encounter Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage). In addition to saving your sorry green ass by neutralising a roomful of angry black men armed to the teeth with various bladed weapons, you find a soul mate. Your life will never again be the same.

The back-story on Macready father and fille involves beyond-the-law's-reach drug lord and downtown-penthouse resident Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong) whose son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) goes to your school every day in the back of a hienously-expensive black luxury car driven by a massive black boombah whose facial expression drifts between subtle extremes of fierce and nasty. Damon Macready did time in the slammer after a set-up engineered by cops working under D'Amico's instructions. His wife was killed. Now he's interested in only two things: training his 11-year-old daughter Mindy to maim humans and getting back at one of the most evil men in the one of America's biggest, ugliest cities.

D'Amico thinks Kick-Ass is a pest. Young Chris is keen to curry favour with his distant but powerful father and offers to lure the masked avenger into a trap. To do this he becomes the fourth ersatz superhero in this highly-educational tale: Red Mist.

But the trap is short-circuited by Big Daddy, who thus becomes the object of D'Amico's most intensely-felt loathing. His ultimate wish is to see the costumed vigilantes burn, and he gets it. Using YouTube, D'Amico's goons transmit footage of his revenge to the watching world but the plan only half succeeds. Big Daddy fails to make it out of the warehouse but Hit Girl saves Kick-Ass's ass and they escape into the dusty night and the lamplight.

Back at the Macready's studio, an austere space decorated entirely with handguns, rifles, automatic weapons and the occasional bazooka, Hit Girl shows Kick-Ass the family's most recent, and most coveted, online acquisition: $300,000-worth of rocket-propelled vertical-levitation equipment that comes handily armed with twin, shoulder-mounted Gatling guns. They lay out their plan for final retribution. An eye for an eye. A daddy for a daddy.

It's time to kick ass. But elaborately-orchestrated violence is not the only feature this interesting little film offers viewers. There's also the love story and Katie, who Dave yearns for with the sort of intensity that adolescence alone bestows on the conscience and on mortality. The quest for companionship is a severe test but Dave pulls it off with a little help from his mail-order green jumpsuit and at-times blood-spattered face mask. It's all based on dreams: authentic, self-driven personal achievement. Simply, she falls for him and they get it on with a seriousness that cannot be argued with. Dave's buddies watch, open-mouthed. The fat one gets to go out with Katie's best friend. Go Dumbo!

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