“Deadpool” Review: Ryan Reynolds, Vulgarity, and an Origin Story
It was a feat in of itself that this film was even made. Though the concept for a solo Deadpool film originated as early as 2000, the film languished in the so-called “development hell” for years before being shuffled into the arms of Fox. Deadpool (in)famously appeared in the 2009 offering, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, with his mouth sewn shut; vastly contrasting from the comic book nickname for the character “Merc with a Mouth”. Comic-book Deadpool is not a superhero, but a morally ambiguous mercenary who will do what’s needed for money. His trademark feature is his knowledge of being a comic-book character and the many jokes that break the 4th wall. Needless to say, the version of Deadpool in this film is not at all like the 2009 version. Gloriously unrestrained, Deadpool is a hard R-rated superhero action extravaganza that should entertain all even if it’s simply make-up on the far too conventional origin story film.
This is a great directorial debut for Tim Miller, who had previously been a visual effects artist in the industry. His skill for visuals is clear from the opening title sequence, which hilariously introduces the audience to the tone and humor of the film. Instead of listing typical acting credits, we get humorous 4th wall breaking titles for everyone (Ryan Reynolds is “God’s Perfect Idiot”) that are interspersed throughout a slow motion sequence of Deadpool attacking mercenaries.
The plot is very simple, which is one of the film’s largest flaws actually. Deadpool is mercenary Wade Wilson, a former Special ops soldier who goes throughout life taking odd jobs from a bar serving as a merc hotspot run by his friend Weasel (T.J. Miller). This all changes when he meets and falls in love with dancer Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). All is cheery until Wade discovers he has advanced and terminal cancer. He desperately turns to a chance to be cured of cancer and turned into a superhero by a mysterious man in a black suit (yes, this is played up for humor). Of course, Wade is tricked and viciously experimented upon resulting in his highly scarred face. He develops powers, escapes, and then tries to track the man down responsible for the experiments Ajax (Ed Skrein) in the hopes of getting cured and getting back with his girl.
Yes, that is literally all there is to it. Large portions of his origin are all occurring via flashbacks making the “present” action of the story very limited. This origin story has been told many times and is far below par at this point for the superhero genre. It also suffers from some really bad pacing issues during these flashbacks slowing down to the point of almost boredom. The film could have used the Monty Python “GET ON WITH IT” 4th wall break at several points.
If this all sounds like a negative review, make no mistake. This is far from it. Even if a simple origin story, it has the funniest, craziest, and shiniest coat of paint on it that one could imagine. Every second of the film is packed with humor that would make even Melissa McCarthy or Rebel Wilson blush. Deadpool is vulgar, highly sexual, and yet still manages to be smart and gut-bustlingly hilarious in the utilization of its humor.
This a role that Ryan Reynolds was born to play. Reynolds pulls off the crude humor, the many knowing fourth-wall-breaking jokes, and even several more emotional moments all with a natural charisma that sells the character of Deadpool. This is a character unlike any other comic book character that we’ve seen on screen thus far. The specifics of the jokes will remain unrevealed but this is not remotely a movie for anyone younger than 16 or so.
The rest of the cast is variable. T.J. Miller is dead-on as Weasel, delivering the next best comedic timing after Reynolds. His role is small overall, but he stands as a welcome complement to the Deadpool show. Ed Skrein is less impressive as Ajax, a scenery-chewing British villain. The film knowingly makes a joke at the trope, but it still doesn’t make Ajax anymore interesting or captivating.
The film makes a larger connection to Fox’s X-Men film franchise with several scenes featuring X-Men Colossus and trainee Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Colossus is no longer portrayed by Daniel Cudmore who had played the character in previous adaptions, but by Andre Tricoteux via motion capture and voice work provided by Stefan Kapicic. His idealism as a hero is played up for laughs and he is finally granted a Russian accent making the character closer to his comic-book version. Warhead is given a simple if effective performance by Brianna Hildebrand as your typical teenage girl.
The action is wonderfully unrestrained and everything fans of the character have been waiting for. Decapitations, dismemberment, splatter, bullets in certain private areas, and more are all featured. Again, director Miller displays an eye for the visual elements of his film in the entertaining slow motion scenes, if not being entirely innovative. Deadpool’s casual disregard for others serves to help make the action always entertaining, despite how brutal it can get.
Deadpool is everything fans of the character have been waiting for. He casually murders people in a brutal over-the-top manner. He displays language that puts a sailor to shame. The 4th wall is casually pushed aside for many knowing jokes about Ryan Reynolds past career of mediocrity in the superhero genre among a host of other pop-culture references. The story is, unfortunately, limited and remains squarely an origin tale. But aside from a few dragging moments, the film is off the wall and constantly entertaining due to the zany script.
Ryan Reynolds makes the film forever watchable and his portrayal makes Deadpool the most faithful adaption of a comic book character’s personality yet. Even non comic-book fans will find themselves with a hilarious and fun action film. Besides, any film that utilizes “Careless Whisper” is worth watching. Deadpool opens in theaters nationwide today.