Why, hello there! Yes, it’s me – Deadpool – writing a review, about a film, about myself, starring myself, but played by Ryan Reynolds. So was it good? Like I’d give that away.
Okay, I’ll admit, I fooled you. This review wasn’t actually written by Deadpool (as far as they know…), and for the purpose of not infringing upon copyrights, trademarks and all that other legal stuff (oh, lawyers, you delightful scamps!), I won’t continue to pretend otherwise. Besides, even if I did try to write a review from the point of view of a certain beloved comic book character, it would probably end up not looking, sounding or acting anything like Deadpool (think X-Men Origins: Wolverine… (I try not to)).
Now, where to start…
Deadpool is a film I didn’t expect to be watching (liar!). I’m not a fan of the comics (what?!), I’ve only ever read one issue (and I bet that was from Free Comic Book Day, wasn’t it?), which I got on Free Comic Book Day (psych!), and didn’t really see the character’s appeal. I like my humour to be high-brow (don’t you have Paul on DVD?), and my super heroes, well… heroic (and I guess you don’t have Watchmen or V for Vendetta either, right?).
But my girlfriend was able to do what she’s so very good at doing (I’m saying nothing) and managed to take me out of my comfort zone (ooh, bet that left bruises), and so see the film, I did (on behalf of short green frog-people everywhere, I’m offended).
Before I get into the film’s story, let me first explain a few things about Deadpool (oh, this is going to be gooood). Deadpool is a character used in Marvel comics as something of a spoof or parody of the genre and their other existing characters. He has the wise cracks of Spider-Man (please, I taught the kid everything he knows… retroactively… with time travel…), the healing factor of Wolverine (I could never pull off the mutton chops… I tried, but he must have adamantium follicles), and arsenal of weaponry that would make even the Punisher drool.
What makes him unique, beyond being an exaggeration, is that unlike other characters, he seems to be aware that he’s in a comic book (or a movie… or a review about a movie… Hi!), and frequently breaks the fourth wall. He’s also killed enemies with speech bubbles (that was like one time…).
One other thing is that Deadpool is not your typical hero. He’s much more of an antihero, quite happy to blur the lines (I call it being flexible) between good and bad. He has his own sense of morality however, but if you want someone whiter than white (sounds boring!)… he’s probably not your guy.
In the film, as in the comics, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a mercenary. He describes himself as being a bad guy who takes down worse guys. Early on, he meets and falls in love with a prostitute, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), to whom he later proposes. Shortly after, it is discovered that Wade’s body is riddled with cancer. A mysterious organisation approaches Wade, offering to cure him of his cancer and offer him superpowers. With no options left, he takes them up on their offer and quickly discovers that it doesn’t come without a considerable cost.
The organisation, headed by a mercenary scientist calling himself Ajax (Ed Skrein), seeks to unlock Wade’s latent mutant abilities and the only way they can achieve this is apparently through extreme torture. Wade is put through hell time and time again until his powers finally manifest, ravaging his body in the process and leaving him permanently disfigured. It’s only then that he discovers that the organisation plans to sell him and the other “patients” into lives of slavery.
Naturally, our hero (antihero, remember? It’s been like three paragraphs!) escapes, and fearing his fiancé would reject him for his appearance, decides to go on a one-man mission of vengeance against the organisation that wronged him.
The story alone isn’t anything too special, and to long time fans of the superhero genre will probably come across quite familiar. It’s an origin story, with an R-rated spin, throwing in much more swearing, violence and a whole lot more sex and nudity than you might expect from your typical movie in the X-Men franchise (think Game of Thrones, but with just me… Dead of Pools).
How Deadpool manages to make up for a lacklustre story is with the way in which the story is told, constantly making fun of itself, never taking anything too seriously – with a few exceptional moments that show a surprising amount of heart. There is a lot of low brow humour in the movie, but the writing is also incredibly witty, and Reynolds’s delivery never once misses a note.
The movie is also chock full of Easter Eggs and meta references. One of my favourites was a moment when Deadpool is “invited” (you’ll see) to the X Mansion to meet Professor Xavier and then asks if it’d be “Stewart or McAvoy” (I was hoping it’d be Cedric Smith).
Reynolds isn’t the only actor to give an impressive performance, however, as the rest of the cast are also very entertaining to watch, though Reynolds is clearly the star. Deadpool is the character to watch, and the others are essentially foils to his antics.
Notably, Skrein makes an imposing villain. His take on Ajax is at times genuinely creepy, though the character ultimately fails to come across as anything other than a generic supervillain whose wardrobe consists solely of one colour: black (actually black’s a shade, not a colour (what?!)). His powers are also, sadly quite boring, consisting of super strength and the inability to feel pain, one half of which he also has in common with his henchman named Angel Dust (Gina Carano), but lacking much in common with the original character.
It is unfortunate, as both Skrein and Carano are clearly suited to their respective roles and play them well, but they just aren’t given much of interest to do. The plain manner in which they dress also has the bizarre effect of making costumed characters such as Deadpool and Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) look a little out of place (how dare you?!).
All criticisms aside, Deadpool is an immensely enjoyable film. Ryan Reynolds succeeds gloriously in making the character someone you should care about, and the playful tone of the film keeps it a fun ride from start to finish.
As an aside, right now, there’s talk of the film acting as the start of an R-rated super hero revolution, with the next Wolverine film reported to be aiming for a similar rating, and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice announcing an R-rated Ultimate Edition cut. There’s clearly a hunger for this kind of movie. Additionally, a sequel to Deadpool was very quickly greenlit after its massive success, ensuring that we will see much more of “the merc with a mouth” in the years to come.
My personal hope is that, if this is what we can expect from the future, that studios will use this as a chance to be creative and take more risks – like with this movie – rather than simply taking elements from it and sticking them onto new movies in an attempt to cash in, a fear alluded to in a recent post by Guardians of the Galaxy director, James Gunn.
I’ll remain optimistic (no you won’t!).
Runtime: 108 minutes