Grab yourself some Chimichangas, load up on ammo and dick-jokes, its time to break the fourth wall with my review of Deadpool.
For a while now people have been saying to me that superhero movies are getting tired and that the massive influx of costumed do-gooder tales that are currently heading our way is going to cause the ever inflating bubble to burst. Luckily this is not something that either Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool director Tim Miller, or Deadpool writers Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza have bothered to listen to. The result is the Deadpool movie and it’s a breath of fresh, if slightly purile, air in an increasingly crowded super(hero)market.
First things first, if you’ve seen any of the marketing for this film you’ll know that this isn’t your average superhero movie and Deadpool isn’t your average superhero. It’s not that he’s more heroic than his onscreen counterparts, it’s that he’s decidedly less so in most cases. Wade Wilson, Ryan Reynolds, is a ex-special forces mercenary (because who would want a mercenary who wasn’t ex-special forces?!) and general bad person trying to be good. What unfolds here is his journey from above average bad-ass to superhuman bad-ass as a diagnosis of late-stage cancer leads him to accept help from some nefarious types, lead by the overly cockney and totally evil Ajax, Ed Skrein. Unsurprisingly the bad guys then reveal their bad side and proceed to steal Wade’s girlfriend Vanessa, Morena Baccarin, forcing him to use all his new-found powers to get her back.
There are three things that make this stand out from your average super-fare. The first is that, for once, the world is not in danger! This is just a film about a guy trying to get his girlfriend back from a bad guy who has kidnapped her. That may not seem like much, but it lends the film a much more personal feeling and lets it breathe a little more in the slower scenes because the fate of humanity is not resting on the protagonist’s shoulders. It is so nice to have a super-film finish with a climax that isn’t something huge falling out of the sky! The second is that this movie more than earns it’s Fifteen (R, for you Americans) rating. This is not the sort of movie that you should be sneaking your little brother into! There were several moments during the movie that I found my eyebrows jumping into my hairline with surprise that this wasn’t an eighteen (NC-17 to the Yanks). The amount of hardcore, bloody violence and brief, but impressively complete nudity would be enough in my mind to warrant a higher rating alone. The thing that really pushes the boundaries is the amount of joyously puerile humour that is on display here. There are very few scenes that pass without at least one joke about something extremely filthy, and the cast are clearly enjoying every minute of it. I suspect that when the Blu-Ray comes out there will be a lot of cut scenes where they pushed the envelope too far, and I’m looking forward to seeing exactly how far they pushed it before it got cut. Luckily, this is exactly what anyone who knows anything about Deadpool would expect and it is glorious. I laughed more throughout this film than I have for a long time in a cinema. This is partly because of the timing and delivery from the cast, but it also has a lot more to do with the fact that this really isn’t the stoic, po-faced hero movie we have come to expect. The third and final thing is that unlike all his counterparts in this movie; Deadpool knows that he is in a film and regularly breaks the fourth wall to address the audience directly. This is never explained, but it is a centrepiece of Deadpool lore in the comics and makes his transfer to the screen even more joyfully anarchic than I had expected. No one escapes from the self-referential nature of this film’s sense of humour. If you’ve never seen another superhero movie then some of these jokes may pass you by, but don’t worry, there is more than enough here to entertain anyone with a functioning sense of humour.
So we come to the hero of the piece, Mr Ryan Reynolds himself. Reynolds has made no secret of his interest in playing this character for at least the last ten years. He got one shot at it before in the god-awful X-Men: Wolverine, Origins, and was one of the only good things about the film. Since then he’s had another go at the superhero franchise with the sub-standard Green Lantern, where once again, his Hal Jordan was about the only good thing in the film. Luckily Fox have finally heard the cries of the fans and realised that in the combination of star, director and writers for this film they have a set of people who are passionate about this property and willing to pull out all the stops to bring it to the screen. So now, finally, Ryan Reynolds IS Deadpool. I can’t really say it better than that. If there was ever a character/actor combination that was more tailor-made for someone I can’t think of it. Reynolds inhabits the character with charm, wit and timing that makes him utterly magnetic when he’s on screen. He even manages to project that charm through the mask that he wears (contrary again to most superhero movies that insist on unmasking their star at the earliest possible opportunity) throughout most of the run time of the film. Deadpool is known as “The Merc with the Mouth” for a reason and Reynolds rarely shuts up when he’s on screen. Happily his comic timing is perfect and he is completely believable as someone would could happily kill this many people and still remain completely irreverent. His co-star, Morena Baccarin also shines as the damaged prostitute with a heart of gold, Vanessa. Their relationship is the centre of this film and luckily these two immensely pretty people have a chemistry that positively blisters the screen. Happily though Vanessa isn’t just a damsel in distress as she has comedy chops to match her beau and guts to go with them. Baccarin shines whenever she is onscreen and her quiet moments with Wade are filled with a deep level of feeling that grounds proceedings nicely and lets you really buy into the lengths he’s willing to go to in order to get her back. Unfortunately one of the places that the film falls down a little is with its bad guys. Once again, the simple fact of needing to focus in on the hero leaves them little time to build anything into the characters of Ajax and his right hand woman Angel Dust, former MMA fighter Gina Carano. Ajax is left as a bad guy who just enjoys being bad. Again luck is with us because Ed Skrein hams it up wonderfully and is obviously enjoying being a complete bastard whenever he is on screen. Angel Dust on the other hand is just stoic muscle, which is a pity because anyone who has seen Carano in Haywire knows that she can act as well as fight. The rest of the cast are little more than bit parts, but again they are all pitch perfect in their roles. I particularly enjoyed T.J. Miller as Weasel, Wade’s foul-mouthed friend and bar-tender as well as the interplay between the two X-Men that also make it into the film to try and tame Deadpool’s rampage. Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and his attempts to convince Deadpool to be a hero and the hilariously named Negasonic Teenage Warhead who couldn’t really care less about proceedings, played to icy, teenage perfection by Brianna Hildebrand, provide a nice counterpoint to Deadpool’s humour-laden violence and make you remember that what he is up to shouldn’t really be something that you should enjoy.
The movie pushes along at a fair pace and there are only rare moments of down time throughout, but they are placed nicely to stop the whole film from turning into nothing by one long-winded action sequence. I found myself getting just enough time away from the violence and quipping to start wanting more. Whenever that happened you can be sure that Deadpool returned to fulfil my every want! The action in this film is frenetic and imaginative in a way that we rarely see in superhero movies. It gets close in and it both looks and feels painful and lethal in a way that I think that the audience is likely to be quite shocked by to begin with. I firmly believe that if Thor hit someone with his hammer they would basically explode, not just disappear quickly stage-right. The fact that we have seen a lot of that sort of neutered violence in these sorts of films for the last eight or nine years makes what is on show here all the more shocking. Limbs, heads and pretty much everything else go flying on a regular basis, but it is all done with tongue firmly jammed in cheek and comic timing a-go-go. There are a few moments where the cracks show a little as some of the CGI on display is quite noticeable, which I found a little jarring at times, but I suspect that this is less the skill of the artists on show and more the limitations of the movie’s small (for a superhero movie) budget being pushed to breaking point. I get the feeling though that these limitations forced them to look for innovative solutions to make the film. Happily they have clearly done something right whilst milking this film’s budget to the max as Fox have already announced that a sequel is in the works! I’m looking forward to more of Deadpool’s brand of action-driven, filth-comedy, super-heroics just as soon as they can crank the next one out!
I highly recommend this movie to anyone who has a yearning to see a superhero movie that isn’t really a superhero movie. If you enjoy mega-violence, filthy comedy, excellent action and maximum effort from all involved then I suggest this is the film for you! If you are offended by violence, jokes regarding any form of bodily orifice or even the slightest hint of nudity then I really would steer clear of this one…
Four Moons out of Five. Ridiculously entertaining (and make sure you stay for the post-credits sting)!