Deadpool (2016) R for strong violence, language, sexual content, graphic nudity. Dir: Tim Miller
Directed by Tim Miller and starring Ryan Reynolds, “Deadpool” is about Wade Wilson who is a sword-wielding, gun-toting mercenary who discovers he has cancer and goes through a mysterious treatment via villain Ajax/Francis (Ed Skrein) and becomes Deadpool, a super mutant, invulnerable to pain and any lasting damage. During the transformation he has become so severely disfigured he cannot get himself to face his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Deadpool decides to take his revenge on Ajax and his army of mutant slaves/soldiers, while Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) tries to convince him to take a more heroic/moral route and join the X-Men.
It seems they really wanted to make a fairly hard R-rated Marvel film, and they have succeeded. There is plenty of everything. It’s also a very jokey film, bordering on comic book parody, which isn’t too different from its source. It is kind of like a mixture of “Kick-Ass”, “Ferris Bueller”, and “Blade”, with a huge helping of referential 80’s related humor via first-person narration told by Deadpool. One can’t help but think most of the humor may have originated from Reynolds himself because we’ve seen him do this stuff before.
Much like his previous somewhat forgettable comic book movie efforts, “Green Lantern” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, Ryan Reynolds’ smarmy humor is in full-mode here. Luckily his quips are more appropriate to the extreme situations around him, making him a pretty amusing, or at least a useful, narrator of the story and his backstory. The film moves back and forth quite frequently. His backstory is surprisingly grim and tragic, and Reynolds surprises us in how he handles drama and emotion, which he rarely got to do in the other films. If you are not really into Ryan Reynolds in the first place–he probably may come off as an immature frat boy– you might find some of his more dramatic turns in this film more to your liking. There’s a strong romantic element at the core of this film, which brings the emotions that is quite welcome in so-called “mindless” action movies like these.
There is a ton of referential, nudge-nudge wink-wink comic-related humor, often breaking the fourth wall, with jokes referencing the 80’s, such as Deadpool’s love of Wham! and Voltron. Thankfully, the writing still keeps this film character-driven. Yes, there is a lot of throwaway humor, but when the film moves to a somewhat more dramatic territory, Wade/Deadpool and Vanessa are likable enough that you want them to succeed in the end.
The characters are likable here. While Ryan Reynolds has most of the funny lines, he is given enough dramatic material to make him sympathetic. Morena Baccarin as a very attractive love interest Vanessa, brings a lot of heart. They are a cute couple, and their moments together feel the most earnest. The metallic strongman Colossus is impressively all CG, but voice-man Stefan Kapicic brings a lot of life to the character, making him the good, moral hero to offset Deadpool’s amoral anti-hero persona. Brianna Hildebrand is fun as Colossus’ protegee Negasonic Teenage Warhead, although her role isn’t particularly a very deep one. While Ed Skrein is mean as the English-accented villain Ajax, much of the villains here are somewhat on the generic side. The film even brings attention to this, which I suppose makes it okay because it was used in one joke. Maybe if the villains had a better range of powers?
The action here is loud, bloody, and ridiculously physical, with cars and metal parts flying everywhere. Much of Deadpool action scenes involve shooting and slicing in slow-mo. Given that many of the characters have relatively generic powers, I suppose one cannot expect high creativity in the fighting-using-mutant-powers department, like let’s say how they were used in X-men: Days of Future Past. The actions scenes here are fairly bloody and well done, yet mostly watchable due to Reynolds’ funny quips during the ensuing melee. One may be reminded of Transformers in that there is a lot of punching going on, particularly many of the scenes involving Colossus, which resorts to punching, and more punching. Many of the villains are just fodder for the heroes to throw around, slice, and so forth. Negasonic Teenage Warhead does some cool special effects that makes her burn up in fire while causing a lot of destruction around her.
Overall, this is a fun “Deadpool” film. It is a humorous Ryan Reynolds film. It breaks some rules within the the comic book movie genre in that it is a departure from the more cleaner “X-men” style of comic films. The film doesn’t take itself seriously for the most part and some may find it ridiculously excessive. It was probably inevitable that a “Deadpool” film would be made, and it would be just like this. It only works because Deadpool is a little different from all the other characters–it has a novel quality. If all the other comic characters started acting like him, well, that would definitely be excessive.