UK Release Date: 10th February 2016
Runtime: 108 minutes
Director: Tim Miller
Writer: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Ed Skrein, Morena Baccarin, TJ Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Gina Carano, Stefan Kapičić
Synopsis: Marvel’s most foul-mouthed, violent superhero goes on a ruthless vengeance mission to take down the man who disfigured him and win back the love of his life.
Deadpool has had a long, winding and uncertain path to the big screen. Marvel’s ‘Merc with a Mouth’ appeared fleetingly and without the second half of his nickname in the widely derided X-Men Origins: Wolverine. In that film, he was played by Ryan Reynolds, who subsequently made it his mission to give the character the solo outing he deserved. The result is a rare superhero movie that embraces adult content and takes a machine gun of comedy to point squarely at the audience, whilst telling them it is going to do it.
Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is a foul-mouthed mercenary who pauses only to regroup with his barman friend Weasel (TJ Miller). He embarks on a relationship with prostitute Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), but finds out that he has terminal cancer. Wilson is visited by a representative for a sinister program, in which Ajax (Ed Skrein) attempts to turn him into a disfigured super-slave. Free of his shackles, Wilson goes after Ajax on the hunt for revenge, with X-Men Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) reluctantly in tow.
Much of the publicity around Deadpool, before and after release, has focused on the movie’s hard-R rating. The movie is a symphony of violence, sexuality and the kind of creative cussing that might make even Malcolm Tucker blush. Deadpool is a smartly written movie that is never shy to go for bizarre riffs, but also knows when to go for the lowest common denominator and the easy punchline. The machine-gun gag rate doesn’t always pay off, but enough sticks to make this the funniest superhero movie since Guardians of the Galaxy.
I had another Liam Neeson nightmare. I kidnapped his daughter and he just wasn’t having it.
Ryan Reynolds, at the centre of it all, gives a performance that is nothing short of incredible. He is perfect for the title role and showcases the same comedic chops that made The Voices an unexpectedly offbeat treat last year. His improvisational ability gives the film a real sense of unpredictable creativity, which feels incredibly refreshing in the tightly choreographed world of the superhero movie universe. It’s also refreshing to see his willingness to lampoon his own work, including the catastrophic Green Lantern movie.
Unfortunately, there isn’t half as much for the rest of the cast to work with. This is a Deadpool movie that is entirely about Deadpool himself, leaving very little room for other ostensibly important roles. Ed Skrein just growls his way through a role almost as paper-thin as in The Transporter Refuelled and MMA star Gina Carano only gets a couple of big moments. Morena Baccarin is awfully underwritten in a part that initially promises to be a strong female, but soon devolves into a damsel in distress, not withstanding the fact that the “true love” plotline is never skewered or inverted in the way that it should be.
It’s also striking that Deadpool isn’t even half as unique as it thinks it is. Matthew Vaughn genuinely reinvented the superhero genre more than five years ago with Kick-Ass. Vaughn’s film did a far more interesting job than Deadpool, which too often feels like it’s essentially a standard Marvel movie shaken up with a couple of F-bombs and jokes about the dual casting of Professor X.
I’m gonna do to your face what Limp Bizkit did to music in the late 90s.
For all of its elegant writing and pleasingly zany storytelling, Deadpool struggles to justify its own existence. Its box office success – already more than $600m worldwide – is interesting for the proliferation of more mature superhero movies, but there’s a constant sense that Deadpool isn’t really all that different from the films it is trying to critique. It’s an endangered species that is utterly convinced it’s a unicorn.
Pop or Poop?
The infectious energy and tremendous charisma of Ryan Reynolds helps Deadpool to become a film fitting of the character’s rabid fanbase and the love of its audience. Reynolds carries the fun, if scattershot, script to great heights, even as the rather generic trappings of the story threaten to bring it down.
Deadpool could pave the way for a new superhero movie trend, but it might be better for it to be treated as something of a special case. There isn’t a character like Deadpool in the Marvel Comics world and this does a great job of channeling his bizarre appeal into a broad, crowd-pleasing blockbuster.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.