Tired of being mugged by high-school thugs in a Manhattan that's notably scummier than the real thing, the teen hero of Kick-Ass wonders, in a hilariously put-on and intermittent Brit's New Yawk accent, "How come nobaddy's eva tried to become a suppahero?" Dave (Aaron Johnson) soon learns the hard way that trying to intimidate thieves while wearing a ridiculous green wetsuit/superhero getup elicits first laughter and then a beat-down. But as soon as he's back on his feet—this time with damaged nerve endings and steel bone reinforcements—he's back on the street. His bumbling attempt to battle a four-man crew attracts a cell-phone, cam-wielding crowd—which in turn scares off the bad guys. "Who are you?!?" asks an amateur videographer. Ready for his close-up, Dave sneers, "I'm Kick-Ass!" With that phrase and Dave's heroic antics catapulted into the memespace, Kick-Ass is real. In its first half, Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass offers a fairly astute, if light, assessment of how new media has provided fresh outlets for the age-old instincts of heroism and hero worship. Dave seems to be in the crime-fighting game less to save lives than for the MySpace glory. But no hero (and no would-be franchise kick-starter) gets off that easy, and thus Kick-Ass launches into its second hour, a mess of random source cues and progressively brutal action setpieces. Kick-Ass devolves into a show reel for its own ancillary characters; expect to see a lot of slutty Hit Girls toting mock bazookas this Halloween.
Johnson and Chloë Grace Moretz prepare to fight some crime.
Opens at Metro and other theaters, Fri., April 16. Rated R. 118 minutes.