Four-Eyes Suits Up

    Based on the comic-book series by Mark Millar, “Kick-Ass” is the perfect blend of art and trash. Carefully choreographed action sequences explode on screen, right before an 11-year-old drops the C-bomb and cuts off a drug dealer’s leg. It’s the type of film that feeds off of the worst in human nature — a soggy gas-station burrito for the brain. It’s brazen, wild and politically incorrect, and one of the most awesome/hysterical films of 2010.

    The story revolves around a dissatisfied high-school nerd (Aaron Johnson) who sets off to become a masked vigilante despite a total lack of superpowers, training or social skills. He buys a painfully unflattering green-and-yellow costume, then prowls the streets of New York City under quaint moniker Kick-Ass.

    The boy’s delusions render him fearless as he walks into an apartment full of hustlers with nothing but a taser — and fully expects to come out of the situation alive. It is here that he encounters his saviors and true superheroes, Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) and her adoring father Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) — a Batman ripoff seeking justice in a corrupt world.

    The film’s appeal hits home in the brief moment when we finally begin to believe that our anti-hero’s fame might be possible. Capitalizing on an age when a shtick and a nice video camera can make anyone a celebrity overnight, Kick-Ass is catapulted to fame courtesy of YouTube. However, his fellow Internet vigilante Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) has a shadier vision for his fame.

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    Newcomer Johnson is convincing as a pathetic nerd just likable enough to root for. But the film’s true star is Moretz, whose character is trained by her father to be a shockingly vulgar and violent killer. She’s a tiny but deadly weapon, and — although she leads the most intense and climactic fight sequence of the film — she never wavers. Cage is surprisingly tolerable as well, but only because his cowlicks are tamed and he shares every scene with the talented Moretz.

    Mintz-Plasse, of McLovin fame, is typecast as the socially awkward nerd with a prepubescent squeak and doughy jowls; the result is as funny as always, but he never leaves the shadow of his mile-a-minute castmates.

    On a whole, the film does end up suffering from lack of focus. The trailers advertise “Kick-Ass” as an epic about an average guy trying to save the world, but vicious, drawn-out action sequences descend the film into madness. Luckily, it’s damn entertaining. Director Matthew Vaughn saves his baby from becoming a total farce by aligning hilarity with startlingly serious combat and a relatively heartfelt premise. He may have sucked the life out of Neil Gaiman’s “Stardust,” but he manages to breathe a tangible energy into “Kick-As” — and turns out some dark comedy for the ages.

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