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.
A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego Deadpool.
After nearly 11 years of studio hesitation and apparently enough sexual favors for Wolverine, Deadpool finally has his own superhero movie (something that star Ryan Reynolds has fought long and hard (see, I can make sexual innuendos too and use parentheses inside of parentheses) for to see come to fruition), and with opening credits featuring billings such as “some really hot guy” and “an overpaid tool” the tone is set for an irreverent and refreshing outing from a genre slowly entering a phase of stagnation and repetitiveness.
Deadpool is a very juvenile and crass film, but that’s just the way it is and more importantly, the way it has to be. Characters aren’t always given the respect for their source material that they deserve, and in the case of Deadpool, well we already know what happens when you neuter his personality and turn him into something he’s not. Seriously, that depiction in X-Men Origins: Wolverine was embarrassing and deserves the cheap shots hurled at it in this picture.
The key takeaway from all of this however is that Deadpool’s very own feature film is a riotous success laced with the fourth wall breaking, dick-joke quips, bloody dismemberment, and the dementedly twisted snark people have come to love, to transcend the Merc with a Mouth from cult phenomenon to the pop culture symbolic icon status he now carries around today. The character is especially a huge hit with cosplayers at comic book conventions
Director Tim Miller hasn’t made a film before, and the writers on board haven’t necessarily perfected their craft yet, but like Ryan Reynolds, they shared a passion for bringing this unique superhero (a term I use loosely considering Deadpool straight up murders his enemies instead of opting for the moral high route) from comic strips to the silver screen with respect for the fans. Pretty much every other superhero film out there has one goal in mind, which is of course making money, and to be fair, obviously the studio executives at 20th Century Fox would like to make a profit off of Deadpool (and they assuredly will considering the brilliant marketing tactics and widespread positive review buzz), but Deadpool is different in the fact that it is a leap of faith and a high-risk business decision. The character isn’t as popular as someone like Batman, the movie carries a necessary hard-R rating to properly deliver justice to the whole experience, and it follows no traditional formula whatsoever of the genre.
At its core Deadpool is admittedly an origin story (and loosely ties into the current ongoing X-Men franchise), but it certainly doesn’t play out like your average getting-to-know-you superhero romp. From the very beginning, there is a kinetic energy and style established of both vulgarity and bloodshed, that is ultimately determined to never once stop you from being entertained. The filmmakers know the origin story sub-genre is as stale as a three-week open bag of cheddar-and-sour-cream Ruffles, so they use the fourth wall breaking nature of Deadpool to subvert expectations and tell the story out of order. And you know what, it is absolutely refreshing to watch a superhero movie that throws you right into some mayhem before even establishing any semblance of a plot.
It works too, because the wise cracking and profane anti-hero is played with absolute glee by Ryan Reynolds; he loves this character so much that he actually stole the suit for his own after wrapping the last day of shooting. Good for him too, because I will bet anything that his love for the character will also pave the way for him to cheer up sick children or citizens suffering from terminal illnesses in hospitals, and generally do a bunch of good deeds. Essentially, the fun Ryan Reynolds is having portraying Deadpool is infectious and could carry the movie for three hours let alone the actual swift 108 minute running time.
Most crucial to the success of Deadpool is the fact that it actually shows restraint. The promotional material loves to poke fun at the movie somewhat being a love story in addition to non-stop juvenile dialogue and severed heads, but it’s not necessarily a lie. The writers never once play off cancer as a joke, but also wisely never allow the script to dip too far into melodramatic territory, and that balance results in a romance audiences will invest in. Cancer is an awful thing (recently having taken legendary actors like Alan Rickman and iconic musicians such as David Bowie), so for those brief moments of emotional content where Deadpool accepts his fate, or decides to ditch the love of his life feeling that the top-secret experimental treatment that went wrong has left him far too horribly disfigured for anyone to properly love him, by extension we also grow to hate the villain Ajax increasingly more.
Speaking of Ajax, while he isn’t the most defined bad guy out there in the land of Hollywood blockbuster superhero films, he’s not really supposed to be, considering that this isn’t a movie about saving the world. Still, even though his motivations are very formulaic, the character is still memorable thanks to a wonderfully British and menacing turn by Ed Skrein. All of the supporting players perfectly compliment Deadpool though; Colossus is the perfect anti-thesis to the persona of Deadpool (the chemistry between the two make for some absolutely hilarious moments juxtaposing the right way to be a superhero), while Brianna Hildebrand plays Negasonic Teenage Warhead as a typical disinterested teenage girl that is essentially indifferent to her X-Men training. Gina Carano is also beastly as the muscle for Ajax.
Deadpool is also aware of the inherent silliness and ludicrous situations that come from the nature of superhero films. There are quite a few moments of the fourth wall breaking where the Merc with a Mouth tosses out comments that make us realize just how stupid some of these characters are, but most importantly it is done playfully and never with an elitist attitude.
It’s also worth mentioning that for a film not given a large budget in comparison to other similar movies, the special effects are fairly good in the places that count most. Colossus is most obviously CGI but it’s never really distracting, and the pitch perfect voice performance by Stefan Kapicic ensures the character is endearing in a goody two shoes lame way. The practical effects and makeup on the horribly disfigured body of Deadpool also look pleasantly ghastly, as if Freddy Krueger just face-fucked a topographical map of Utah. There are some environmental settings towards the end that look a little bit too fake for my taste, but cuts had to be made somewhere, and for the most part the movie looks fine and should surprise people that it was only made for around $60 million
There are sex montages, blind housemates, failed attempts at being a proper superhero, people getting killed by zambonis, amazing Hugh Jackman references, the best Stan Lee cameo ever, and so much more that I haven’t even touched on. The point is that while Deadpool might not be the most stimulating offer from the genre, it could very well wind up being the most fun superhero movie all year. It takes you for a ride and zips along, and by the end you’re left hoping that all studios learn a lesson regarding shaking up their yearly summer tentpole releases.
I also can’t believe I wrote over 1000 words without even mentioning T.J. Miller’s hysteric turn as Deadpool’s companion Weasel, who even with limited screen time somehow ends up having some of the absolute funniest lines of the entire movie. Just a few weeks ago I loathed him hosting the Critic’s Choice Awards with a terribly unfunny routine, but here he is given golden material and runs with it.
You will need to see Deadpool more than once, because laughter from the audience will actually drown out certain scenes leaving you missing stuff. I am wholeheartedly certain there are quite a few jokes I didn’t catch on to for this very reason, but I don’t have an axe to grind at all, because a movie this funny is simply precious. To say I’m dying to see Deadpool again would be an understatement. At the very least, I need to watch the zamboni scene on repeat about 400 times.
If you’re the type of person that complains all Hollywood blockbuster films are cut from the same cloth, then go support something refreshing like Deadpool; it may not be for everyone due to its profane nature, but if nothing else, even its most vocal detractors will have to applaud the feature for standing head and shoulders above most everything else within its genre.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★