Thursday, 15 April 2010

Kick Ass

I wasn't sure what to expect when I went to see this yesterday. My son raved about it and so did some colleagues who had seen it. So I guess I went with high expectations. I must say that I feel disappointed at the outcome.


The story is set in an anonymous suburb of New York where Dave Lizewski attends High School and hangs out with his two friends, Marty and Todd - all three of them unremarkable in every way. The interest they have in common - apart from girls - is Super Hero comics. They are portrayed as three teenagers coming to terms with hormone soup coursing through their veins. Dave has the hots for Katie who appears to have the hots for Erika and so appears to be off-limits to boys. She develops a friendship with Dave because she believes the rumour that he is gay and so it is safe to hang out with him - especially in her bedroom where he gets to rub on an all-over body tan! The way in which the film deals with teenage sexual angst is really very good. This was for me the highlight of the film!

The main thrust of the story concerns Dave's wish to be a somebody, and in his case to be a somebody driven by a morality that challenges wrongs and promotes well-being through tackling crime - typical Super Hero stuff. So Dave decides to become a Super Hero - Kick Ass. His first foray into crime fighting sees him seriously done over by a couple of local thugs who stab him. He is then run over. His hospital x-rays show virtually all his bones to be held together with pins and plates and that together with most of his nerve endings having been trashed by injury/surgery means he has hardly any feeling. He has been rebuilt and has an extremely high pain threshold. Good qualities for a Super Hero to possess. His early exploits get captured on CCTV and mobile phone cameras and he becomes an overnight sensation spawning a merchandising boom. Marty and Todd, not to mention Katie, are in awe of this Super Hero and this fills Dave with much pride.

The plot is quite involved. A former police officer was framed as a drug dealer and did time. He didn't see the birth of his daughter or the death of his wife and blames drug baron Frank D'Amico for this. Kick Ass, who has no fighting skills or special powers meets Big Daddy, the former cop who, in his quest to bring down an evil drug baron D'Amico, has trained his 11 year-old daughter to be the ruthless vigilante Hit Girl. They team up together and the noose tightens on D'Amico.

D'Amico's 17 year-old son Chris is frustrated at not being permitted to join his father's 'business' and so hatches a plan to entrap Kick Ass and Big Daddy by posing as the Super Hero Red Mist, thereby proving to his father he is ready to step up to the plate. The trap is sprung and eventually Hit Girl is shot and Big Daddy and Kick Ass captured. Their captors plan a live unmasking over the internet which all the TV channels stream live. It turns nasty and it become clear that this going to be an assassination attempt. Hit Girl was saved by her bullet-proof vest and comes to the rescue, but sadly not in time to save her father. She them teams up with Kick Ass to find and kill Frank D'Amico and avenge the death of her parents at his hands.

The violence - and there is a lot of it - is of a choreographed nature similar to The Matrix and Kill Bill. It also draws heavily on the film's comic book roots, but it is made to look real enough rather than virtual or disguised as art. But more than the amount and nature of the killings that happen, it is that by far the Lion's share are down to Hit Girl who is only 11 years old and additionally uses some pretty ripe language which pulled me up short. This is disturbing.  It is plainly wrong to portray an 11 year-old as a trained assassin whose motivation is revenge and retribution. For me this comprehensively soured the whole experience. Hence my disappointment.

Don't go and see it - save your money and see something more worthwhile. I'm not even going to give a rating to this film.

And please don't call me hypocritical for justifying the violence in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo whilst vilifying it here. Context is everything. Violence is indiscriminate but when story-writers choose to put automatic weapons in the hands of children and turn them into assassins, they have lost touch with the things that really matter.

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