The endearing and amusing Aaron Johnson stars as Dave Lizewski, a teenager who spends his days being bullied around by other kids at his high school, hanging out with his buddies at his neighbourhood comic book shop, jerking off to thoughts of his big-titted English teacher (Deborah Twiss) and secretly longing for pretty classmate Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca). He’s basically Peter Parker with a hard-on, an impression that’s reinforced by the way Vaughn is practically doing a pastiche of Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” during the first act of “Kick-Ass”, from the voice-over narration to the colorful cinematography and, for better or worse, the rather slow pacing and the abundant amounts of exposition.
The twist is that our protagonist doesn’t get bitten by a radioactive spider or anything; he just decides on a whim to make himself a costume out of a green and yellow wetsuit, grab a pair of nightsticks and go out into the streets, looking for bad guys to beat up… or get beaten up by. Because that’s another thing: not only does Kick-Ass (Dave’s alter ego) lack any superpowers, he’s also kind of a wimp and he spends most of the movie getting hurt every which way!
Now, the characters who truly kick ass -and totally steal the film- are Big Daddy and Hit Girl, a father and daughter duo of masked vigilantes with an endless supply of weapons who are waging an all-out war against the criminal empire of New York gangster Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong). Nicolas Cage outdoes himself in the bizarre and over the top acting choices department as Batman/Punisher hybrid Big Daddy, amongst other things doing what seems like an impression of Adam West! And then there’s Chloë Grace Moretz, who looks like your average bright and bubbly little girl, but whose Hit Girl happens to have been trained for years into becoming a pint-sized killing machine, who has one hell of a foul mouth to boot!
As I mentioned, it takes a while for “Kick-Ass” to introduce us to everyone and to set up everything, but once it really gets going, it’s all kinds of awesome. The action sequences are particularly exciting and inventive, not unlike those in Timur Bekmambetov’s “Wanted” (another Mark Millar adaptation). I also sensed a strong Takashi Miike vibe, what with all the sadism, black humor and fetishistic imagery! But most of all, what makes Vaughn’s film so fun and memorable is the cast (also featuring Christopher “McLovin” Mintz-Plasse as D’Amico’s son, aka Red Mist!) which, even down to the bit parts of the guys playing the villain’s henchmen, consistently delivers. Sequels, please?