Review: Deadpool

Having been a fan of Blade, Blade II, Watchmen and Kick-Ass, I was wondering when the current comic-book movie craze would flip back towards adult-oriented films. Marvel’s TV series on Netflix have shown what can be achieved, and can be quite mature and thoughtful. Deadpool however is the complete opposite, laughing in the face of serious and sensible superhero films and hilariously so. While the comedy doesn’t work immediately, it’s refreshing if immature, and justification for Ryan Reynolds’ efforts to get it made.

Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is a hilarious gobsh*te mercenary who finally gets a happy life with girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), but then finds out he has terminal cancer. Wilson fortunately resides in the X-Men movie universe, and so is offered the chance to gain mutant powers as a last-gasp cure. However, his mistreatment at the hands of Ajax (Ed Skrein), an unscrupulous mutant in charge, mutates him into Deadpool, an immortal, hideously deformed Wilson who decides to use his mercenary skills and deranged sense of humour to get his revenge.

I mentioned this was in the X-Men movie universe – Deadpool is a mutant, and what sets the character completely apart from any expectations is that he’s a filthy-minded, gun-happy murderer who speaks directly to the audience (breaking the “fourth wall” between the film and viewers). This isn’t a gloomy X-Men movie, even if it’s supposed to be in the same continuity, and Reynolds and director Tim Miller, as well as writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, relish the ability to tear apart all other superhero movies in some very pointed and hilarious jokes. This alone makes the film a welcome watch, but a lot of the adult humour (other than a slightly disappointing opening) gives it that little bit extra.

Can you ever remember watching a superhero film and laughing all the way through? That nearly happens here, and the film has some great action as well, better as for once you actually see henchmen shot, bleed and smashed to a pulp rather than just forgetting that happens when they’re beaten up by Batman or the Hulk. The film does feel a bit cheap (the effects particularly), but that adds to the “charm”, and otherwise stereotypical scenes are subversive, crude and wryly funny. Musically, Tom Holkenborg uses Beat It-style synths for the main theme, which lines up perfectly with Deadpool’s pop-culture references, and I loved that crazy extra addition to the mayhem.images

I get the sense Ryan Reynolds is a Marmite kind of actor, but I always find him hilarious – he’s genuinely funny, and lucky enough to have the looks and ability. It took him years (and a terrible portrayal of the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine) to finally get here, and his smarmy, quick-fire quips are perfectly matched to the character, while you can see how much he’s enjoying himself. The rest of the cast is a real mixture: I liked Baccarin’s Vanessa because she isn’t the stereotype of the damsel in distress, and offers a witty counterpoint to Wilson, while T.J. Miller’s Weasel – Wade’s best friend – has some of the best lines and a drawly, mocking, cynical view that fits the film’s attitude perfectly. To a degree, Skrein’s British villain is subversive, but there’s not enough there to really make him an interesting character, and the less said about the plank of wood that is Gina Carano the better – filmmakers, stop casting real-life fighters in films if they can’t act!

Only two X-Men make an appearance: the awfully CGI Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) and the ridiculously-named Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand ). You can very much tell that Miller and Reynolds battled to get any X-Men in the film, and Colossus not only has a ridiculous accent (comic book fans will say it’s authentic, but it’s terrible), but the effects, and the character’s role as a square, moral compass, make him nearly pointless. I liked Negasonic though – finally we have an X-Man (or X-Woman) who is droll, funny and not angsty about her powers. Further comic effect comes from the bizarre Al (Leslie Uggams), Deadpool’s blind African-American flatmate and party to some ridiculous riffing with Reynolds, and taxi driver Dopinder (Karan Soni), whose little appearances add more humour.

One problem I had was that you can see how bad some of the effects are, especially with Colossus, and after getting used to such good CGI in other movies, you’re assaulted with Transformers levels of crap onscreen at times. Also, the first 20 minutes or so fall flat in terms of humour – you can see where it’s trying to make you laugh, but it doesn’t constantly do so until a certain point, from which the rest of the film doesn’t stop. Some of the humour is so hilariously crude that it’ll surely offend someone, though equally other bits are very teenage-boy, so it depends where you sit in the balance between meta-humour, shocking jokes and crude, black comedy.

All told, I enjoyed Deadpool, as did a LOT of other people (it cost $80 million, and made over $500 million), and it’s already having an impact on superhero films (the next Wolverine, for example, will receive the same rating). If they can tighten up the humour, get some better effects and actors, and find interesting new paths for this depraved idiot to take, I’m in.

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