We thought it might never happen. But after years of speculation, endless interview quotes stating “maybe one day” and a Godawful attempt to bring him to the screen (see X-Men Origins: Wolverine) Deadpool proper is here.
Starring and producing, this has very much been a labour of love for Ryan Reynolds. You can see why too “the Merc with the mouth” seems like the perfect fit for Reynolds motormouthed skills which he has spent a career perfecting seemingly in waiting for this moment. He certainly doesn’t skimp on that mouth. You only need to look at the wide stretching marketing campaign to see that he’s having a ball playing the character and that fun definitely comes through in the film.
To those unfamiliar with the character; Deadpool is one of Marvel Comics more R-Rated characters. A killer for money he’s also blessed with an acidic wit and penchant for breaking the fourth wall. The story here, written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, shows his origins (of course it does). Wade Wilson is a mercenary who falls deeply in love with a prostitute called Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Bonding through gallows humour developed through a lifetime of misery they finally seem to have found ambrosia until Wade is struck with terminal cancer. Accepting a creepy offer to be cured whilst at the same time becoming a superhero (weirdly in the film this offer is dealt with quite seriously whereas typing it out sounds ludicrous, but I guess it is a storyworld where the X-Men exist). In comes Ajax, or as we find out later Francis (Ed Skrien) a British Baddie of a doctor who manages to cure Wade’s illness by unlocking his mutant potential, unfortunately through a horrendous regime of torment and physical torture which leaves Wade horrifically scarred. Oh and his mutant powers are the same as Wolverines, rejuvenation and all that. Now Wade’s better but figures his bride-to-be is a fickle cad and won’t want anything to do with his mush. His only recourse is clear; kill Francis and all that stand in his way.
So, yeah, Deadpool boils down to a revenge plot based around a man’s looks being ruined. But these are the looks of Ryan Reynolds, a man once voted “Sexiest Man Alive” a fact we’re reminded of in the opening credits as a copy of People magazine appears in slow-mo. Accompanying that image are some of the most truthful credits in living memory. Instead of the production teams names we’re told the film stars “A Gratuitous Cameo”, “Standard British Villain”. All part of the films meta humour and “meta” is very much the word of the day here.
Much like the comic itself Deadpool relishes in constantly addressing the audience. The Marvel universe comes under fire as well with quips about McAvoy/Stewart Professor’s X and exactly why Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead are the only two X-Men around. For the most part this asides are very funny and welcome change of pace to over earnest superhero movies. It must be said though that after an hour and half the joke does start to wear a little bit.
Some critics have taken exception to the films joyful tone when dealing with Saw-like levels of gore, casual views on sex and one joke that could be viewed as massively homophobic. It’s true that Deadpool is very much a movie of surface pleasures. The action scenes are choreographed stunningly, the jokes are fast and funny as is the editing. It is an entertainment in the truest sense of the word and one that clearly doesn’t want you to take it too seriously. Perhaps some writers who have delved into the chest-beating, ultra masculine approach to the film have taken umbrage with an issue they seem to have constructed. Deadpool is a mercenary after all and by default will be an unpleasant character. And yes there is gratuitous nudity but there’s no real swing in balance between either sex.
If the film has one major fault it would be Ed Skrien’s villainous Francis. He’s just a bit beige. Looking and sounding like a Gross brother, he feels more like a henchman whose recently been promoted. He doesn’t exactly strike fear into proceedings. Plus the fact that Deadpool is immortal slightly removes jeopardy.
A hugely enjoyable action film with some genuinely funny one-liners and sporting one of Ryan Reynolds very best performances, the news today that a sequel is in the works is very welcome news indeed.
4 / 5
Dir: Tim Miller
Scr: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Ed Skrien, Morena Baccarin, Brianna Hildebrand, Gina Carano
Prd: Simon Kinberg, Ryan Reynolds, Lauren Shuler Donner
DOP: Ken Seng
Music: Junkie XL
Run time: 108 mins
Deadpool is out in cinemas now.