The following review contains minor spoilers. Rest easy, Marvel fans, Deadpool is everything the marketing is promising and fan expectation is crying for. It is also the R-Rated comedy hit the superhero genre didn’t realize it needed.
Deadpool is a hilarious, raunchy, exhilarating, gory and – dare I say it – awesome superhero film. Cheers to Ryan Reynolds for believing in this character, continually fighting to bring it to cinematic life “the way it should be.” His approach to the character is spot on, perhaps even better than the comic book version itself. Is that 4-color sacrilege? Might be. He embodies the character with personality from the outrageous sense of humor to the highly expressive body language to the rapid-fire dialog and the simple-but-complex story itself. Director Tim Miller is also key in striking the perfect tone mixing in the heroics, the humor, the effects, the action and the horror. And, surprise, the romance as well. The relationship Reynolds and Miller establish between Wade Wilson and Vanessa is crucial in keeping the film from flailing around with no direction or purpose. The focused narrative of getting revenge on the person responsible for deceiving Wade Wilson into becoming Deadpool is all that is needed to drive the film, but the motivation of the relationship is what makes the drive a worthy investment for the audience which in turn accents and amplifies the joke-a-second approach of the film.
Most of the supporting cast are up to the task except for one crucial misstep. T.J. Miller is Wade’s close ally Weasel. Leslie Uggams is Deadpool’s blind old-lady roommate. They are both exceptional. A few X-Men are in on the fun, Stefan Kapicic voices Colossus and Brianna Hildbrand is Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Again, perfectly suited for the pairing alongside Reynolds’ Deadpool with Colossus becoming the Abbott to Deadpool’s Costello. Gina Carano is Angel Dust who is basically nothing more than muscle. Works for what it is. It is Ed Skrein as Ajax who has the most misfortune. Ajax is regrettably not that imposing or memorable a villain. And the one thing Deadpool could use, if it needed an improvement, is a stronger villain. Ajax, as he is, is more an illusive annoyance that a viable or established threat. He holds his own physically, fist-to-fist, but is no match in the personality department. But in the end, that matters little because Deadpool himself and the movie itself is just so damn funny – it is literally laugh-out-loud hilarious – and the geekier you are the more boisterous it will be.
The script for Deadpool is deceptively simple. It is basically a revenge story where its lead, Wade Wilson, is out to get the man who is responsible for both Wade’s found stunning good looks and the kidnapping of love of Wade’s live, the beautiful Vanessa. It is a love story. Yeah, it is actually. It is a story about heroism, but not a typical superhero film. It is most definitely a parody and a comedy with laugh out loud results. It is a bit of a horror movie too, with body horror and gore galore. It is positioned into the X-Men cinematic universe so it contains an oddball connection to the X-Men films and to Wolverine. After a whirlwind year-long romance, mercenary Wade Wilson is ready to settle down with main squeeze, Valerie. He has found true love. But karma is a bitch, he discovers he has terminal cancer. To spare Valerie the pain of watching him wither and die, Wade leaves only to be approached by the Weapon X program who promise to heal him, to make him stronger, to make him…a hero. Karma is still a bitch and things go a bit sideways giving birth to Deadpool. The cancer is gone, he can now regenerate from almost any wound, but he is horribly scarred. Only the villainous Ajax – the man responsible for his new found disposition – holds the key to his previously life, a cure.
While the humor and superhero action are the selling points for the marketing of Deadpool, it is the connection between Wade Wilson and Venessa that keep the film together. The chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin elevate the film beyond simple superhero parody. The successful, if not entirely quirky, romance between these two provides all the motivation needed to drive Wilson’s decision to become Deadpool and to later be singularly focused on locating and destroying Ajax. To be honest, it is not a necessary element of the film, it could possibly work without it at all. But, having the strong connection between them and the drive makes all the insane action and gutbusting comedy all the more earned. Their 50 Shades of Wade Wilson romance is lovingly presented in a hilarious montage of events spanning every holiday throughout the year. The two hardened criminals somehow find true love. This will likely make revisiting this film for the comedy and action all worth it, this is the film’s heart.
But it is Ryan Reynolds’ irreverent, subversive humor, smart-ass attitude and sharp tongue that keeps the entire audience laughing and smiling throughout Deadpool. He gives Deadpool a distinct, fluid, almost poetic, body language. With a little CGI help, Reynolds’ personality is forged into the emotive full-faced mask Deadpool wears. This is the four-color Deadpool stepping right out of Marvel comics fully and successfully realized. Nothing is safe from his wit. The R-Rating allows the humor to go deep into suggestive areas. It all results in crying-because-it-hurts-to-laugh-so-hard humor. But not all the humor relies solely upon jokes, sometimes it is just a wondrously realize sight gag. A favorite scene is when Deadpool realizes that Colossus’ intervention has allowed Ajax to escape providing a terrific “hands-to-the-face” gasp reaction and double take – no, triple take – that sets Deadpool aside from most every other hero on film. The humor, jokes and gags are rapid fire, Deadpool is the “Airplane!” of superhero films landing one “Don’t call me ‘Shirley'” joke away from being a distant cousin to that Abrahams and Zucker classic.
Directing his first full length feature, Tim Miller has crafted a brilliant film full of exhilarating action and penetrating humor. He drops the audience smack dab into the middle of the action wasting no time giving the audience what they are craving. The price of the ticket is rewarded within the first 10 minutes. Then, as Deadpool weaves in the back story, the origin story, Miller reveals there is so much more to the tale he has in store. He handles the action with confidence and ease giving the audience as much as its limited budget ($50 million compared to Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s $279 million) has to offer. He uses slow motion to not only provide visual eye-candy but to allow allow Deadpool an opportunity throw in one more wise-crack or a humorous visual gag whether it be “Did I leave the stove on?” or giving a motorcyclist the ultimate wedgie of all wedgies. Miller also handles the connection to the X-Men universe exceptionally well. Even though he is only afforded Colossus, Negasonic Teenage Warhead and the X-Men Mansion, he makes the most of them, even sliding in a joke or two about the budgetary limitations. In fact, he gives Colossus his best cinematic showing yet proving he is a great straight man. It also helps that he is also a solid contrast to Deadpool given Colossus’ strong morality, earnest approach to being a superhero and desperate attempts to keep Deadpool in check. Miller also handles the smaller scenes with a similar tone, the moments focusing on pre-Deadpool Wade Wilson are just as investing as the larger moments.
Deadpool is everything you hoped for and a few things you didn’t know you needed. It is one of the best superhero films of the past few years. It is one of the funniest comedies of the decade holding its own against The Hangover and Bridesmaids. It is also a successful romance film deserving a Valentine’s Day release. It is an X-Men film, of sorts. It is an origin story. It is Ryan Reynolds’ best film, it is made for his sense of humor and wit. The only thing the film lacks is a strong antagonist. Ajax fails to become a memorable super-villain. He’s no Loki. What Deadpool does right is deliver. It delivers the excitement, the fun and the humor needed to bring this unique character to life. It may be the best example of a passion project realized as Reynolds’ has been championing this film for years finally convincing FOX to give it a shot even after the previous failed attempt within X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Deadpool is a must-see film, not only once but a number of times because you will likely miss a number of great jokes and gags while laughing so damn hard.
Deadpool (5 / 5)