Deadpool (2016) Film Review
The latest in a bloated list of superhero films can proudly stand as one of the best, though I'm not sure that the character of Wade Wilson would care in any way about the accolades. In fact, he'd probably despise (and then defile) the award. Deadpool is a hilarious examination of the superhero craze at a time when it's most needed, and brings the fun right back to the fight.
Has there been a more impressive marketing strategy in recent history? Deadpool certainly had word of mouth going for it, which was itself a minor cause for concern. Was this truly going to be the unique film it seemed destined to be? Or was its advertising legions ahead of its actual content? Thankfully, it's the former, though in saying that the film is far from revolutionary.
We've seen R-rated before, and we've seen superheroes before. We've even seen them together, to some extent, in the pages of the comic books. But here, Tim Miller has created a film that is so unabashedly comic book-born that it even bears a time caption early on scrawled into the familiar text box seen on the pages of a monthly issue. The character digs and nudges at superheroes, at the studios behind them, and even at himself (his former self; he's full of only love for his current existence, barring the whole facial scars thing).
From the go, Deadpool even outwardly proclaims that he's no hero. Despite the efforts of Colossus, who is one of just two occupants of Charles Xaviers home for Mutants (an opportunity for a hilarious slight at the franchise he owes his life to), Deadpool has no interest in joining the team of boy (and girl) scouts. The three characters, including the Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), share an immensely enjoyable chemistry as three remarkably unorthodox comrades, but their work together in the final act is an utter joy.
The enjoyment, outside of its surface level profanity and hilarity, that the film offers comes too from its lack of scope. It's not interested in saving the world, which we see done at least three times a year on the big screen. This lacking is no flaw, though the film's plot is notably weak. It's essentially two action set pieces, the first of which shares its screen time with the lengthy origin story of Wade Wilson, who finds love and is thrust into an unrealistic relationship with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), before being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Possibly the biggest thing holding this film back from certain audiences is its leading couple, whose relationship highlights both characters as essentially teenagers in grown-up bodies. Younger audiences, allowed or not allowed in the theatre, will lap it all up, while some audience members might just want to get on with the show.
And they'll be disappointed. The show is the dialogue, not the story. Though the film shares plenty with the X-Men franchise, and alludes to things that may well be picked up on in future films. The villain, Ajax (Ed Skrein) is so effortlessly infuriating, his torturing of Wade Wilson goes far enough to make it hard to watch. The plot is cut and dry superhero fare, and is capped off with a damsel in distress. The fourth wall breaking, too, is used sparingly, almost jarringly.
Coming to perhaps the most glaring (and still not very glaring) flaw of the film, which resides in its tonal awkwardness. It veers from outrageously comical to horrifically dark at such staggering speeds that it's indeed a whiplash, something you have to adjust and then readjust to and from as the film pleases. When the mask is off, the film is terrifyingly dire, and when the mask is on, it's a comedy through and through (complete with "superhero landings" and voodoo dolls of his former self). Every so often, the jokes fall flat, probably understandable in a script that's in such a hurry to get to the next line. One such is when the 'heroes' are in a taxi on their way to rescue Wilson's kidnapped girlfriend. When Deadpool suggests the driver kidnap his disinterested love interest, it feels utterly hollow given the circumstances, and it's hard to pinpoint whether it was intentional, but something tells me it's just a shortcoming.
For every positive and negative, the film always comes back around to Ryan Reynolds, who is an absolute positive. Deadpool is a pseudonym, and the movie belongs to Reynolds, who has famously fought for its existence. The blast he had making it is evident in every gratuitous fight scene, every raunchy line that comes from his mouth. The fact is that Deadpool will quickly become one of the most loved superheroes in the mainstream movie-going community, and he probably timed his arrival just right.
Deadpool is open for anyone to come and enjoy. It requires little to no outside knowledge of the X-Men franchise, though it may entice you to watch those if you haven't. The only misfortune that comes from seeing this film is knowing that you won't find any other superhero film like it to fill the void. You'll have to buy another ticket in order to feel that same, R-rated escapism. Deadpool is truly a gift to the superhero era we live in, a film that recognises its genre and blasts it, but also has a blast living in it too.