This Ryan Reynolds passion project brings to life the Marvel comic book character Deadpool, the merc with the mouth, a hideously scarred joke-machine anti-hero. The character Deadpool is half the premise in and of himself. He is a fourth-wall breaking comedian with swords and guns. The movie exists not to serve up a novel story or grand idea, but so that Deadpool may exist.
That being said, there is a story here. Wade Wilson is a wise-cracking mercenary with a heart who falls in love with a prostitute named Vanessa. Just when it looks like they will live a happy life together he gets the bad news that he has rampant cancer throughout his body and little time left. When all seems lost, a mysterious organization arrives promising to not only cure his cancer, but give him miraculous powers.
Wade takes the chance and goes with them only to find that, while they do plan on curing him and giving him powers, they have a nefarious purpose to sell him as a super powered slave to the highest bidder. Wade gains his powers but at the cost of his appearance. Before he can be collared and sold, however, he makes an escape attempt, destroying the facility in the process. What follows is Wade’s revenge crusade as the masked “Deadpool” against the people who made him.
The Short of It:
This film is not for families with children. “Deadpool” is crazy violent, vulgar, sexual and revels in it. Do. Not. Take. Children. To. This. Movie. If you do, you are a bad parent, fullstop.
That being said, Deadpool is a hilariously fun action flick for adults. The plot and villain may be standard, but they all serve to highlight Ryan Reynolds’ infectious titular character, Deadpool, and act as suitable targets for his wacky humor. The action is fast paced but easy to follow, the humor is relentless and almost always earns a laugh, and through it all the movie manages to have more heart and passion than many other superhero movies. If you crave quality R-rated humor and action, I highly recommend that you go see Deadpool.
The Long of It:
“Deadpool” is exactly what a Deadpool movie needed to be. “Deadpool” needed to be funny, action-packed, raunchy, and fourth-wall breaking. This movie is all of those things, while also managing to portray one of the most believable superhero romances to date, and exuding the kind of heart that can only come from projects made by people who love the material.
The action sequences in Deadpool are terrific. Not only are they well set up and choreographed, but they avoid a lot of the too-quick-cuts and shaky cam that became the norm for so long. There’s also a lot of creativity with each fight scene, and the characters manage to do a lot with very little, or use their powers and skills in unique ways. Between the beheadings and the bloody gun and sword fights, Deadpool earns the hard “R” rating it wanted.
The film also does a smart move by telling the origin story through flashbacks. We’ve seen so many origin stories that they can often feel tedious. By giving us flashbacks framed with the present day Deadpool action and character, the audience isn’t left waiting and wading through the plot until they finally see the character they came to see in the first place. Despite this smart move, there is no question that the plot is incredibly standard. Some of the flashbacks are slow and drawn out, and they just can’t match the interest generated by the portion of the movie where Reynolds is behind the mask.
While I won’t spoil the ending, the movie is refreshing in that it has an actual ending. It’s not some open-ended cliffhanger. It’s satisfying.
However, the most important thing this movie had to do was nail Deadpool’s character, and they do that perfectly. They have all of the fourth-wall breaking and irreverence a fan would expect. He addresses the audience multiple times, shows a self-awareness of the actors, studio workings and other real-world elements that went into the making of the film (the opening credits are perfect). He even reaches out and moves the camera at one point.
Ryan Reynolds, as has been said so many times before by other critics, was born to play this role. He has a quirky humor that works well for the character. Beyond that, he is a terrific Deadpool fan, and the film wouldn’t have happened without him. He completely makes up for the atrocious portrayal of the character in Wolverine: Origins. Reynolds second try at the role is spot on.
Wade Wilson is an interesting character, to be sure, but he needs motivation and an emotional attachment to ground this film for the general audience and give it that heart. Morena Baccarin’s Vanessa Carlysle is a great supporting character that provides those emotional resonances and connections. I mentioned above that this film has an excellent superhero romance, and it’s no accident that “Deadpool” was released on Valentine’s day. For all that the movie is one third comedy and one third revenge action, that last third is solidly a love story.
Vanessa and Wade are clearly meant for each other. They both have dark and sarcastic senses of humor that compliment each other without being identical. While we don’t get a lot of time with her to find out who she is, but what we do get is her fierce independence and determination. The second she finds out Wade has cancer she is putting her mind to the task of overcoming the challenge. She feels like a real character, and a worthy love interest, and it is understandable why Wade loves her.
The other characters around Deadpool are similarly shallow due to time constraints, but make the most of their time on screen. Colossus is a giant metal boyscout, which makes him a wonderful foil for Deadpool, and their interactions provide some of the biggest laughs of the film.
Negasonic Teenage Warhead similarly provides another foil to Deadpool, in this case as an angsty teenager who finds him unimpressive. The three of them together are fun to watch.
The villain, Ajax (Francis!), is basic, but the actor portraying him, Ed Skrein, is clearly having a fun time and he does a great job of providing a worthy target for Deadpool’s hatred and cutting humor. Angeldust, his right hand powerhouse, provides the physical threat to Colossus and serves well as a mostly mute thug and physical presence.
There are several smaller parts that don’t belong to heroes or love interests that play out very well too. T.J. Miller’s Weasel is a good friend and another voice of humor. Deadpool’s roommate, Blind Al, is similarly hilarious with the little screen time she has. There is even a cab driver who serves as the subject of two hilarious sequences. None of the side characters are wasted. If anything, each of them does a great job of arguing for why they should have been on screen longer, though if they were given that time there’s a good chance the film would have bogged down. It’s at its best when it’s rocketing along at the same speed as Deadpool’s jokes.
Conclusion and Star Rating:
Deadpool is not only an excellent and faithfully adapted comic book film, it is a great action film, comedy, and romance. The film has a few flaws, but they are incredibly nitpicky. It never takes itself too seriously, nor does it ever treat the source material without respect. Because of Ryan Reynold’s determined support and passion for this project, and his love for the character, they’ve created one of the best superhero movies of the year and maybe one of the best superhero films made to date.
It may not have any grand ideas, and it may not revolutionize filmmaking, but for being a Deadpool movie it is just about as perfect a film as I could ask for. I give this film a four and a half out of five stars, or “Great.”