deadpool_3Year: 2016
Director(s): Tim Miller
Writer(s): Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Region of Origin: US
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Rating: R
Digital, Color, 108 mins

Synopsis: A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment, leaving him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego Deadpool. (Source)

Deadpool is everything you want it to be and nothing more, which means its really fun and exciting, but also not the game changer it could’ve been. Opening mid freeze-frame battle, the camera zooms around bullets, broken glass and blood to reveal a set of cleverly placed faux credits, relegating the cast to God’s perfect idiot, a hot chick, a British villain, a CGI character, and so on. It doesn’t get any more self-effacing than that, foreshadowing the film’s contentment to rest on time tested tropes rather than transcend them. Though it sometimes falls prey to the very ideas it loves to lambast, the film’s commitment to being the rudest, crudest superhero blockbuster is admirable, offering more profane laughs than you can remember and a torrent of giddy ultraviolence. At the center of it all is star Ryan Reynolds operating at his irreverent best – this is role he was born to play, and if the film is worth seeing it all, it’s because of him.

The story is smartly tailored for the uninitiated, operating first and foremost as an origin story. Taking a non-linear approach, the film’s titular hero narrates his own past in-between dodging bullets and decapitating foes. As he breaks the fourth wall to narrate, we learn of an ex-Special Forces solider turned mercenary named Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a nobody doing dirty work for the highest bidder until he falls in love with a street-smart hooker named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Together, the pair escape into their own world until Wade learns that he has cancer. Wanting to be remembered in a good light, he leaves Vanessa and joins a shady secret program. There, he’s given superhuman healing abilities but is left scared and inches from death after their brutal methods cause Wade to try and escape. Thirsting for vengeance and hoping to one day reconnect with the love of his life, the newly masked Deadpool hunts for the men who made him for a monster, never forgetting to crack a perfectly-timed joke along the way.

deadpool_1The film’s saving grace of course, is its inability to take itself seriously, and in turn never keep a straight face. No matter how dark things get, the foul-mouthed merc never fails to poke fun of the situation or find a way to lighten the mood. This is a superhero movie that doesn’t have anything deep to say, and that’s totally fine, because all it wants to do is provide a good time, and it does that with ease. And yet, the film manages to tread the line between R-Rated Looney Tunes episode and a sweet love story, taking its disparate tones and mashing them up in a way that oddly works. As such, its a broad film that carries a lot of hats – you can come for the superhero satire, the flying limbs or the endless jokes about self-pleasure, but at the end of the day, there’s a heart to it all that contrasts nicely.

Visually, Tim Miller’s animation backdrop pays off in spades. The first action scene (which also happens to be the viral clip that got the film green-lit), is the best, but the film is littered with fun spectacle that isn’t afraid of its comic book roots. From the Deadpool’s white eyes, to the red spandex, the film proves that you don’t have to dress everything in grit to make it appealing. In turn, the violence has a physicality that feels like its leapt right off the page – Deadpool somersaults and has no regard for realistic physics, and the powers of his cohorts, Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, are equally as outrageous (he’s always metallic and in his comic-accurate red outfit, while she turns into a flaming human ball of fire). It’s cool to get another comic book movie that embraces how absurd it really is.

deadpool_2It’s no surprise that the cast shines, with the real bright spot being Ryan Reynolds. Amidst the messy plotting and one-dimensional narrative is a performance that’s just plain electric. He lights up every moment that he’s on screen (like he should), and it’s his confidence and aplomb for the character that keeps us invested throughout. He also shows way more range than you expect him to, allowing for an amount of plausible earnestness amidst all of the gleefully crass posturing. It’s a well rounded turn from an actor mostly maligned for poor film choices. He owns this character now, and I can’t wait to see how he grows with it. Bouncing off of Reynolds is a colorful cast who holds their own. Morena Baccarin’s Vanessa is the film’s other standout, a nice contrast to Reynolds who carries a strength not usually allowed for a love interest. She does a great job of turning her thankless character into someone with depth, going toe to toe with Reynolds’ charm and wit. T.J. Miller as Weasel is perfect, and everything that comes out of his mouth is gold. Miller’s role has the danger of being taken for granted, but he takes his ridiculous character and only adds more authenticity to the film. The rest of the characters are well cast, but don’t get as much to chew on. I really liked Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, but with barely any lines, she’s a blank slate who brings the part to life without having much to do – that’s not her fault, and I hope we get to see more of her.

To quote the hero himself, Deadpool isn’t exactly “maximum effort”, but director Tim Miller’s first live-action attempt still feels like a successful one. He’s proven that comic book films can be fun, and has delivered a reverent take on one of the medium’s most irreverently outrageous characters. Solid but not great, the film is a dense one that’s bound to be a hit with each viewing, and with plenty of room to grow, I’m totally ready for more.