Synopsis – A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego Deadpool.
My Take – As an avid comic book reader I have known Deadpool for a while now, but it wasn’t until his outrageous character arc in X-Men Origins: Wolverine I gained interest in him. Since then I have followed his solo comic book runs including the currently successful writer Gerry Dugan‘s take on the merc with a mouth. As a fan, I am glad the success the film has received from comic book reading & non readers alike. It has been a surprisingly agonizing ride for director Tim Miller & actor Ryan Reynolds to get the reigning king of contemporary nerd humor, who plays everyone’s favorite chimichanga-chomping Merc with the Mouth to the big screen. So, fans: think long and hard (snicker) about the uncompromising, mostly amoral, full-on bonkers movie you’d lacerate any limb for. Your wishes have finally been granted. Thank you Fox! Debut director Tim Miller manages the impossible: a film that is a raunchy, and excessively violent, superhero comedy flick; based on the Marvel Comics character (of the same name) quintessentially built on fan-service that doesn’t suck. Coming from the second tier of players, instead of its popular A-Team of Avengers, this brand of superhero has some interesting traits unlike his predecessors. Besides loving to kick ass and destroy his foes, this character lobs double meaning traits and curses to anyone in his vicinity, beats everyone to the bloodiest of pulp (hence, the film’s adult rating), and breaks down any walls in his way, especially the fourth one with his pithy and snide asides to our movie-going audience. The overall plot is a little bit derivative but in this day and age with eons of creative history behind movie making, what else isn’t? It is the execution, the energy instilled by director Tim Miller, and the well timed, well written, clever humor soaked into the script by Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick of Zombieland fame. We aren’t talking the cartoony quips or snide banter of Disney‘s Marvel movies. This is smart, actually humorous, befitting of the film and filled to popping point with pop culture references if all sorts.
Yet this is not some laugh-a-minute comedy. Ryan Reynolds completely sells even the more somber scenes with such earnestly. For the first time I actually feel bad for poor ol’ Wade and all the crap he had to go through before he became our titular anti hero. The story follows Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a former Special Forces operative, turned mercenary for hire, who falls in love with a beautiful escort, named Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin); after meeting her at a local New York City bar for mercenaries. Few years down the line, Wade is tragically diagnosed with terminal cancer. A mysterious recruiter (Jed Rees), for a special program, approaches Wade (at the bar he frequents); and offers him a cure for cancer (in exchange for his involvement in the program). Wilson reluctantly accepts his proposal; but the program not only cures him of his deadly disease, but it mutates his skin while giving him healing powers. Due to the torment, Wade becomes borderline psychotic decides to take on the mantle of Deadpool in order to take revenge on his maker, Francis Freeman a.k.a. Ajax (a menacing Ed Skrein), a sadistic scientist and his lovely Igor named Angel Dust (Gina Carano) & get them to fix his disfigured face; so he can go home to Vanessa, again. And of course, Deadpool has help from a supporting group of friends that include his loyal sidekick, Weasel (T.J. Miller), and some other X-Men crusaders, Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand). The first thing I noticed in this film was how inventive the storytelling is. The film throws you into the action from the first moment (literally: the very first moment) and then it goes back and forth in brilliant and unexpected ways to slowly unspool the story of this insane – but oddly charming – antihero. Flashbacks and fast-forwards can be annoying as hell, but when done right, they can help render even a somewhat simple story fresh and exciting. And that’s exactly how this film felt to me right from the start: like a fresh (if somewhat dirty) jolt of energy. Direction is strong from first time director Tim Miller, he keeps the film moving along in a decent pace that’s not rushed and the production value set for the film is quality assured as costume design, visual effects and make up are all worthwhile and it’s script is pretty polished throughout with humor, exciting action set-pieces and the best 4th wall breaks/ meta humor I’ve seen in years (the knocks at both Wolverine, Green Lantern and even the trouble to get this movie made are hilarious in particular). The action is non-stop and so are the jokes, which land most of the time. Deadpool’s foul mouth works overtime to entertain his adult followers between the blood spatter and it all surprisingly works, excluding the over indulgence of too much slow-mo and CGI effects, frenetic editing, and shaky hand-held camera-work. But the filmmakers never take the character or his plight so seriously as in other films of this ilk and are more obsessed with the dark humor aspects in their story. Credit goes to the screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick with their zingy one-liners and director Tim Miller, who gives the film the needed jolt of energy which allows this hero some distinctive qualities that other superheroes in the Marvel universe lack, primarily a underlying sadness that define the human character inside the superhuman.
Despite all my praise, it’s not a perfect film. The villain in this revenge tale could have been more memorable (same old Marvel issue) and the story itself is a bit too derivative to really do its highly unconventional protagonist (he insists he’s not a hero) justice: but it’s a damn good first entry in a franchise that will hopefully explore the character and his world to a much larger extent in the sequel(s). And it’s actually a very important film for another reason. Looking at the size of the film’s success (grossing $150 million in just 4 days in the US), this could play a vital role in how studios henceforth view the financial prospects of R-rated superhero films, and we’ll hopefully see more of them in the future. There’s no secret that this film is Ryan Reynold‘s show all the way! His burning passion for the character fuels a now career-defining performance. Imbued with the divine gift to make even the crudest riffing gleam with cheery, sparky charisma, Reynolds nails each beat of wacky humor, springy physicality and seething, volcanic rage and hurt so effortlessly there’s the uncanny feeling of him dripping ink from being lifted off the pages of a comic. Reynolds seems to have found his Iron Man, a character so indelibly linked to the actor that plays him that you cannot imagine anyone else playing him. Despite having to combat a disappointingly under-written part, Morena Baccarin matches Reynolds in adorable damaged snappiness, steering just shy of sultry, manic-pixie-dream-girl stereotype by keeping the right amount of crazy in her eyes. T.J. Miller is consistently hilarious and uncompromisingly unsentimental as Wilson’s buddy Weasel, while Ed Skrein as “that British villain” brings enough pompous, brawny sadism to make his Francis-ahem- Ajax only feel slightly generic. Karan Soni, Brianna Hildebrand & Stefan Kapicic are amazing in supporting roles. Gina Carano is reduced to a non talking Hench women. On the whole, ‘Deadpool’ is a blast of a movie that packs action, comedy and superhero cliche’s into one and even pokes fun of not only itself but breaks the 4th wall in wonderful ways. A revolution in super hero films has begun!
Director – Tim Miller
Rated – R
Run Time – 108 minutes