Bad Vibrations


16 April 2010| No Comments on Kick-Ass     by Sean Chavel


Repulsive, and yet some audiences have been captivated by its bloodletting “realism.” To me, the superhero movie Kick-Ass is charmless, dehumanized and too vicious. It gave me a case of bad vibrations. Nicolas Cage (not the superhero, but the sidekick), in his first scene, is setting up to shoot his pre-teen daughter in the chest with a caliber pistol. This is, of course, not a lethal exercise, he’s merely trying to test the body armor. Chloe Grace Moretz, takes the bullet with pride. But I can’t help but wonder about her pigtails. Did dad, or the director, not consider he might shoot off her locks of hair?

The entire scene is emboldened in such loudness that you’re supposed to hear, and feel, the ripples of that discharged bullet. The movie gets more gratuitously brutal. I especially felt rotten after a turncoat mobster gets “microwaved” to death. And Moretz, as Mindy Macready a.k.a. Hit Girl gets battered viciously in the last act of the film, like she was just one of the guys. Her age is 11.

At this point in my review, I’ve made it sound like this father-daughter duo is the core of the movie but I have misled you. Aaron Johnson is the 17-year old high school outcast who narrates the movie, who just wants to make a difference. Whether it’s a difference to the world or a difference to himself, does it really matter? He wonders why no ordinary people have ever tried to become a superhero. He wants to try, but with zero imagination, no helpful gadgets, it is no surprise he gets pummeled on the streets.

Charisma is everything to the movies, or at least used to be everything. It doesn’t help that Johnson has about one-tenth of the charisma of Jay Barouchel (“She’s Out of My League”), and being compared to Barouchel is not flattering in the first place. He’s just an unhappy young man whom I guess is pounding out his frustrations by being a superhero named Kick-Ass. He’s no nice, charismatic kid like Peter Parker. Somehow, even with his superhero ineptness and ambiguous intentions, he gets a girlfriend in this movie. Until then, the movie shows realistic portrayals of teenage isolation and masturbation.

The genre requires an evil genius, but you will have to settle for a stock character villain. The kingpin of the movie is Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) and he tries to keep his business from his son Chris, who will become Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, the McLovin’ kid). Red Mist has the moxie to join Kick-Ass and Hit Girl, but with fidelity to his father’s business, only joins them to lure them to their capture. Let the slashing and gashing begin.

Cage, who becomes the alias Big Daddy (great arsenal collection, by the way), gets brutalized in quite an awful way – you would think this was a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie from the early 90’s. His daughter Hit Girl is bummed, I guess, but somehow we think she will survive this ordeal with a next day brush-off.

This isn’t courage being mounted as a justifiable theme since the movie is all displays of dehumanized behavior. This movie is for undiscerning viewers who enjoy overstylized ultraviolence for the sake that it is supposed to be, uh, gnarly and way cool. It made me appreciate the optimistic fantasies of early Tim Burton and Roland Emmerich.

Most moviegoers don’t know the names of the director responsible, but I take pride in my duty to know so. Watching “Kick-Ass,” I thought I was watching “Natural Born Killers” as directed by the Wachowski Brothers, repackaged with a smiley face for general young audiences. The name of the director is actually Matthew Vaughn. He is now on my hate list.

117 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “Natural Born Killers” (1994); “Layer Cake” (2004); “Speed Racer” (2008); “Watchmen” (2009).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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