Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein.
Director: Tim Miller
After months of brilliant marketing and high expectations, Deadpool has landed. The promotional material, ranging from trailers to fan-made posters to cancer awareness campaigns informed us that Deadpool was set to be an entertaining, fourth-wall breaking, action-orientated fun film with a load of comedy and a splash of romance. What does the movie deliver? An entertaining, fourth-wall breaking action-orientated fun film with a load of comedy and a splash of romance.
Ryan Reynolds stars as Wade Wilson, a mercenary with a sense of humour and a skewed moral compass who meets an escort (Morena Baccarin) and falls in love. Tragedy strikes when he is diagnosed with end stage cancer and has no option but to undergo experimental treatment that mutates him on a genetic level, leaving him with super healing powers but a horribly disfigured body. After taking the name Deadpool, Wade begins a bloody and violent search for the man responsible, the villain Ajax (Ed Skrein), in the hope of finding a cure and reuniting with his true love.
The simple synopsis does not do the movie justice in any way. Nothing is simple here including the narrative which uses multiple flashbacks and an audience-acknowledging voice-over to bring the relatively basic story to life, turning a standard origin movie into an engrossing, fast-paced thrill-ride. The action is clear and fairly inventive, while the comedic moments (often puerile) generally hit home and the unusual love story is endearing in it’s own unique way.
The supporting cast are fantastic in their respective roles with the main criticism being the lack of time spent with them as the narrative continues to drive the plot forward however the talent on display leaves an impression. Love interest Vanessa, a character whose perverse sense of humour matches Wade’s, is wonderfully played by Baccarin as she matches wits with Reynolds and is able to create a likeable character you want to see succeed. T.J. MIller stars as bartender Weasel and Leslie Uggams portrays Blind Al, both characters adapted from the comics who entertain as they insult and criticise their mutual friend. Ed Skrein and Gina Carano play Ajax and Angel, the villains of the movie who, as is generally the rule with comic book adaptations, are rather thinly written but provide two solid antagonists. Meanwhile a new version of the X-Man Colossus is introduced (with a Russian accent no less) and a little know Marvel mutant called Negasonic Teenage Warhead debuts. The interactions between the heroic, poetic Colossus, the sarcastic, flippant Negasonic and Deadpool himself are reminiscent of buddy-cop movie relationships, complete with disagreements, bickering and a hint of a mutual understanding of each other (but not quite).
These supporting players each play their part yet this is a movie about Deadpool and fortunately Ryan Reynolds is perfect for the role. His quick delivery of every witty comment, his likeability despite playing a vulgar, inappropriate character and his commitment to the project all add up to what can only be described as one of the most true-to-source adaptations of a comic book character captured on film (or t.v.). Having worked with screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and director Tim Miller for several years to get the project created, Reynolds must obviously have a love for the project and character and his fun-filled approach catapult the movie into must-see territory.
The sharp script, clever direction and snappy editing are blended with an unusually varied soundtrack to create a cohesive, entertaining motion picture that, if the offensive dialogue was reduced and the violence and sex scenes reduced, could easily fit the standard PG-13 model of most superhero films. Deadpool’s unique selling point which really sets it apart from other adaptations (bearing in mind the violence, blood and language are unusual to the superhero genre but not to action cinema in general) is the constant, creative and surprisingly fluid way in which the fourth wall is broken.
For those not familiar with the term, the fourth wall refers to the imaginary barrier between the audience and the movie which separates our world from theirs and helps to establish the reality of what we see on the screen. Deadpool, a character known in the comic books for being aware of his own fictional nature, is perfectly translated to the screen as a character aware that he is in a film. This allows for Reynolds to address the audience directly by speaking to the camera, to make inside jokes on his previous superhero roles and to comment on the nature of films and movie tropes themselves. Jokes involve referencing the actors that have played X-Men founder Charles Xavier (‘McAvoy or Stewart?’), Wade playing with a Wolverine Origins Deadpool figure, nods to Samuel L Jackson and Ferris Bueller and many more. Breaking the fourth wall not only adds to the comedic elements already in effect but presents a unique, refreshing take on what is threatening to become a crowded market. Steven Spielberg himself has actually stated that he expects the superhero genre to lose popularity just as the Western genre experienced some fifty years ago. However if studios are willing to take more chances, such as foregoing the apparent need for a PG-13 rating and trying out different characters (or different takes on the characters), then audiences will not tire so quickly of what should be an inventive, diverse genre of film.
Overall Deadpool succeeds in giving us a purely fun and different comic book movie, which is what the creative team set out to do. If you see this film, simply sit back and enjoy from the opening credits to the post-credit scenes and let the movie entertain you.
And yes, Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance.