Directed by Tim Miller.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Ed Skrein, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Stefan Kapicic, Brianna Hildebrand, Gina Carano, Leslie Uggams and Karan Soni.
Ex-mercenary Wade Wilson subjects himself to secret experimentation, hoping it will cure his cancer. Instead, it turns him into a wise-cracking, fourth-wall-breaking anti-superhero.
Apart from the odd foray into dramatic territory (Smokin’ Aces, The Nines and 2010’s excellent Buried) for most of his career, Ryan Reynolds has had to settle for being the best thing in otherwise mediocre comedies – well, now he can add a bona fide classic to his CV. It’s always a joy to watch an actor in the role they were born to play (whether it’s Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, or Bill Murray as Peter Venkman) and Reynolds is a perfect fit for Wade Wilson/Deadpool. You can tell he relishes playing someone he feels such a strong connection to – after all, he guided this film through a decade of development hell after being disappointed with how the character was handled in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (like we all were), and when filming was completed he famously took the suit home.
A rule that the film-makers said they were very strict about when writing the script is that Wade Wilson could never break the fourth wall – only Deadpool. It’s a wise decision, as it (a) gives the film and the character a small but nevertheless essential grounding in some kind of reality, and (b) gives Deadpool licence to be as winking and meta as he is in the comics. Another clever move was the back-and-forth structure – this not only differentiates it from the standard A to B plotting of most comic book movies (the only other recent example I can think of is Batman Begins, and even that film abandoned the device halfway through), it allows the film to start on a thrilling note with a killer car chase (not to mention the funniest opening credits ever).
From there we flash-back to the time before he donned the red and black suit, when he met and fell in love with a hooker called Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin. Cue a graphic and hilarious montage of the two of them having sex over several major holidays (except on Lent – aww, bless!) Their relationship is very believable, aided by the actors’ undeniable chemistry, and the fact that their flirting (if you can call trading childhood abuse stories ‘flirting’) is genuinely funny and sexy – how many comedies can say that? Somewhat surprisingly, for a movie that takes pride in its crudeness, Wade’s cancer diagnosis is handled in a pretty tasteful way, and it gives the film its most mature and emotional line – “the worst thing about cancer isn’t what it does to you, it’s what it does to the people you love”. After that, by Deadpool’s own admission, the film goes from being a love story to a horror story.
It is with very good reason that this film is rated R in the US, and ’15’ over here (those who were hoping for an ’18’, fear not – it’s a very hard ’15’). Aside from the aforementioned sex, there is more swearing and (arguably) more violence/gore in this film than in any previous comic book movie, and although Ajax (the film’s ‘British Villain’) may not be as memorable as Marvel favourites such as Loki or Kilgrave, he’s just as sadistic. His actions create Wade’s alter-ego and set in motion his roaring rampage of revenge, aided by his best friend Weasel, played by T.J. Miller, who is a great double act with Reynolds. Most comedies have two or three one-liners that you remember after you leave the cinema – this film crams in two or three great ones per minute! The only downside to the rapid-fire nature of the jokes is you may miss a few because you’re laughing too much, or it may be all too much to take in in one viewing. I’m not going to ruin any for you here, so I’ll just say my favourites involved the casting of an X-Men character, and Deadpool’s idea of what to do with a tiny arm…
When a movie gives you so much of what you wanted from it, it’s often easy to ignore its faults, and in the case of Deadpool it’s mostly the short-changed female roles. After appearing in Haywire and Fast & Furious 6, the casting of MMA fighter Gina Carano has lost its novelty – she brings nothing to the role of Angel Dust, Ajax’s hench(wo)man, not helped by the fact that she isn’t really given any proper dialogue to say. And Vanessa, after her great introduction in the first half of the film, is pretty much reduced to a damsel-in-distress by the third act – hopefully she’ll have a more satisfying arc in the already green-lighted sequel. (I also personally hope they bring back Leslie Uggams as Deadpool’s furniture-assembling room-mate Al – I’m dying to find out if she discovers the cure for blindness!)
Still, despite its minor flaws, Deadpool is everything we hoped for from the pre-release hype and the utterly superb marketing campaign – I can’t wait for all the extra violence, swearing and nudity on the Unrated DVD version! (And since this is a Marvel movie, be sure to stick around for the end-credits scene – it pays tribute to, in my opinion, one of the finest fourth-wall-breaking films ever made).
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★