A high school geek dons a cheap costume and tries to be a real life super hero, but quickly learns the reason why normal people without super powers don’t get involved in other people’s problems. But in doing so, he catches the attention of the public, including a NYC crime boss played by Mark Strong, and a couple of other much more capable do-gooders, played by Nicolas Cage and 12 year old Chloe Moretz.
This is one of my favorite films of the year, despite the fact that I didn’t initially want to see it. Based on the poster and the misleading trailer, I thought it was a kid’s movie. Take note, this is NOT a kid’s movie. It’s a hard R rated film, for ultra violence (albeit in a comic book-y way), filthy language, and some sexual situations. Unfortunately, this movie was not marketed to the right audience, and that’s a shame. But it is getting a cult following. It undoubtedly won’t get any Oscar love, but it’s definitely in my Top 10 of the year, and I noticed it also made Stephen King’s Top 10 as well. (As usual, Mr. King, you have good taste and I always look forward to your Top 10 lists of movies, TV shows, and books.)
Every scene and every character is totally unpredictable. Nicolas Cage’s performance is brilliant, including an improvised homage to Adam West, which apparently initially troubled the director and his costars but turned out to be the perfect choice. Chloe Moretz (‘Let Me In’) is absolutely amazing, and I am astounded at how great her acting is at just 12 years old (and also at some of the truly filthy words that come out of her mouth.) Mark Strong is becoming the new go-to villain, which he played perfectly in this film as well as in ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and ‘Robin Hood’.
The film was written, directed and produced by Matthew Vaughn, who began his career as a producer on two of Guy Ritchie’s films, ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ and ‘Snatch’. This is only the third movie he directed, with the other two being the superb ‘Layer Cake’ and the better than expected ‘Stardust’. The action sequences are among the best I’ve seen. And the music is absolutely tremendous, borrowing a few beautiful and quite powerful orchestral songs by John Murphy from two of Danny Boyle’s films, ‘Sunshine’ and ’28 Days Later’.
As I've written before, lately we’re getting lots of films about average people trying to be super heroes (e.g. the under-seen ‘Special’, and the as yet unreleased ‘Super’, scheduled to come out in April.) But I think they should probably slow down on this concept, because this one is about as close to perfection as I can imagine. There is a sequel slated for release in 2012, and I’m more than a little concerned it won’t even come close to as good as the first. But I’m also more than a little excited.