The Daily Mail hates Kick-Ass. This is partly because it sees a 12 year old girl relishing a taboo word before before slicing a room full of bad guys into sushi. And partly because the screenplay was adapted by Jane Goldman, who happens to be married to Jonathan Ross; so society-threatening evil is close at hand. It's not like Kick-Ass was targeted at their readers anyway. It’s a mad rush of comic-strip joy which hits the teen myspace crowd head on and gives older action movie fans a deliriously fresh entertainment.
Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is invisible to high school girls and sits on the dweeb table. One day after his lunch money is stolen - for the last time - he asks himself: 'Why can’t ordinary guys become superheroes.” So before you can say Batman Returns he’s ordered his green and gold bodysuit and is taking his first beating from street hoodlums. Soon this have-a-go-hero, self named 'Kick-Ass', is filmed in action on someone's mobile and rapidly he becomes a youtube sensation.
Despite his general ineptitude, he manages to upset New York crime boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong). He'd be mince meat up against Frank’s army of goons were it not for a better funded and hilariously dysfunctional duo. Damon and Mindy Macready are father and 12 year old daughter, played by with deadpan hilarity by Nicolas Cage and Chloe Moretz. Most of their scenes are destined for cult status, like one early moment when the proud and loving father celebrates a milestone Mindy's life: when he fires the first live ammunition; virtually point blank into her bullet-proof jacket covered chest.
Director Mathew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust) gets the most of out of his angel-faced assassin, Mindy makes Nathalie Portman's pubescent killer in Leon look like a girl-scout. The point all its detractors have missed is that Kick-Ass clearly lives within the comic-book world, its characters read comics, fantasize about them and some of them even try to live out the insanity. Tongue is firmly in cheek. Like Watchmen, this is a different kettle of fish from the usual Marvel/DC world on film or on the page. Witty, deftly directed, with bags of attitude and bombastic action scenes, it feels like a big hit in the making.
A word on Aaron Johnson who was rightly praised for his turn as John Lennon in Nowhere Boy. He could be massive, he has that vulnerable, yet dangerous edge, that already makes him more interesting than many cookie-cutter American stars of his age.