First published in the May 2010 issue of the Hearing Times
I half liked Kick-Ass. I half hated it. That might sound confusing, so let me start by telling you what it’s all about and I’ll explain the 50/50 bit later.
Kick-Ass is a story about a teenage boy who becomes a superhero without, er, having a superpower. He simply orders a costume and goes out in it, and duly gets beaten up. But when a video of him in action is uploaded onto YouTube, he becomes an internet star, and after teaming up with ‘Hit Girl’, he takes on a criminal gang in New York City.
The film is based on a comic book, and benefits from a frenetic, colourful visual style. It has two engaging leads in Aaron Johnson (last seen in ‘Nowhere Boy’) and Chloe Moretz that help it add up to the kind of rip-roaring, if slightly predictable adventure I would have enjoyed as a teenager. It also happens to be extremely violent.
This is where the 50% comes in. Half of me, the bit that remembers being a teenage boy, guiltily enjoyed the ingenious ways the film found of killing off characters. Bazooka rocket through a window? Check. Exploded to death in an industrial microwave? Check. A couple of kitchen knives flipped into a face? Check.
But it disturbed me that some of the most bloodthirsty moments of knife-slashing action (not least an entire lower limb being sliced off) are dished out by ‘Hit Girl’, who happens to be an 11 year old girl, played by an 11 year old girl. So here’s the rub. The other half of me, the person who’s now an adult – and father – feels disturbed by the idea of children acting out extremely violent scenes that seek to entertain through shock value.
So I half liked Kick-Ass. I think a lot of people will like it 50% more than I did. I left the cinema wondering whether the kids who see it will question whether the existence of a film featuring a scene where an 11 year old gets beaten up by a grown man could ever really be thought of as a ‘cool’ thing.