"A putz in pantyhose," is how Mark Strong's wise-guy crook, Frank D'Amico, describes Kick-Ass, a crime-buster in a green wetsuit (snapped up for $99 on the internet) and yellow rubber gloves.
And Aaron Johnson's weedy, badly dressed superhero is a bit of a "putz" until he encounters Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz), but more of these two later.
Dave Lizewski is a gawky teen whose "invisible to girls", and is grieving for his mother who died 18 months ago. Dave, who is in awe of comics strips, decides to become a have-a-go hero. His first attempt is a catastrophe – he's beaten up by a couple of car thieves and run over, but after surgery he looks like "frickin' Wolverine", with his nerves deadened and his limbs coated with metal plates. His next mission is more successful, fending off three thugs busy pummelling an unfortunate. His heroism is recorded and played on YouTube and, hey presto, Kick-Ass is all the rage – being lauded as the "wetsuit crusader" by news channels and Jay Leno. It maddens Frank and stirs interest in two rival superheroes, the father-and-daughter dynamic duo, Big Daddy and Hit-Girl. And, quite frankly, this is really their film. Cage, in his best role for yonks, is splendid as the vigilante seeking retribution for the death of his wife. His superhero voice is a droll impersonation of Michael Keaton's Batman. Moretz is even better as the ultra-violent, potty-mouthed Hit-Girl, stabbing and shooting legions of wise-guys in a purple wig and black leather gloves.
Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn's script is riddled with profanity, jet-black comedy – the death of a children's entertainer dressed as Kick-Ass is particularly dark – and plenty of kick-ass action. Their hugely enjoyable film is also blessed with a terrific turn from Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Frank's puny son. However, Moretz is indubitably the star.