I read the comic and loved it and for some reason, there was no scepticism on my part in regards to the movie version, once I found out it was to be R rated. And I have to say, fresh from watching it, this movie truly lives up to its name.
The story is pretty ingenious in its simplicity: what if people decided to really put on costumes and become "super-heroes?" What follows is a sometimes realistic, sometimes fantastic accounting of a teenager who dons a mask and dubs himself "Kick Ass." He runs into trouble and gets his own rear kicked more than he's able to dish out, but he doesn't quit, always pressing forward. On his journey, he meets Big Daddy and Hit Girl, a father/daughter team dedicated to bringing down the resident bad man/mafia chief. The kid also discovers some things about himself and his own heroism, despite the odds and his own doubts and fears. He falls in love and grows up and this is as much a coming of age story as anything else.
Yes, it is ultraviolent, and God Bless it for being so. And its brave, in its own way, for staying true to the ruder elements because it is there that we discover the raw reality of the basic premise, and how utterly insane or naive a person would have to be to put on a costume and fight crime. None display this psychotic tendency more than the characters of Big Daddy and his daughter, Hit Girl. This movie accurately portrays just how crazy you have to become if you want to pursue this kind of vengeance by putting on a costume and training your daughter to not only kill, but to excel at it. It is this very point that has caused some controversy (see below), and some have found the idea of a 12 year old girl murdering people with both guns and foul language offensive. Well, I say it's real. If you had a father that raised you to kill, who shot bullets at your Kevlar-vested torso to teach you how to withstand being shot, and who never used a curse word himself, but was the ultimate milk-and-cookies father (using "gosh" and "goodness" all while killing and surrounded by guns--a nice satire on middle America, perhaps?), you might turn out kind of foul-mouthed and violent, too. The film displays this reality through brilliant set-pieces of stunning violence--all real and painful and bloody--and in the smaller moments of humor and pathos between the characters. It meshes the whole shebang into a nice, tidy ball of great storytelling, from the acting to the special effects. This movie truly does Kick Ass.
Some, like Roger Ebert, have railed against the movie, pretty much calling it morally reprehensible. To these people, I have but one response: It is R Rated. What more do you want? The movie ratings system, no matter where you fall on the scale of the validity of it, was designed by "morally upright" persons to protect children from "morally reprehensible" films that depicted violence and sex and hard language. It was to separate the dirty from the clean, thus the R rating and all the others. The problem is, this is never enough for some; they feel it's their duty to protect the rest of us--you know, people referred to as "adults"--from movies that may corrupt us, too. You guys have your ratings, they are doing what they are intended to, so why don't you leave the rest of us alone and allow us to Make Decisions For Ourselves. I don't need to be coddled or preached to. If I want to watch a 12 year old girl slaughter bad-guy mobsters all while spitting out a vile stream of profanity, well, that's my damn right. So let's make a deal, okay? I leave you alone, you leave me alone, and we'll all get along just fine.
See the movie. You'll love it, as long as you're not squeamish.