Deadpool Review

7.5 out of 10

Cast:

Ryan Reynolds as Wade / Deadpool

Morena Baccarin as Vanessa

Karan Soni as Dopinder

Ed Skrein as Ajax

Michael Benyaer as Warlord

Stefan Kapicic as Colossus (voice)

Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead

Kyle Cassie as Gavin Merchant

Taylor Hickson as Meghan Orlovsky

Randal Reeder as Buck

T.J. Miller as Weasel

Isaac C. Singleton Jr. as Boothe

Gina Carano as Angel Dust

Leslie Uggams as Blind Al

Directed by Tim Miller

Deadpool Review:

A comedic tone, insane action, and a strong performance by Ryan Reynolds make Deadpool a fun side-trip in the superhero genre, but only for adults.  Leave the kiddies at home, unless you’re an unfit parent.

Story:

Deadpool is based on the Marvel comic and is set in the world of the X-Men… sort of.

Wade Wilson is a former Special Forces operative who now acts as a mercenary. Despite his acts of extreme violence and crude sense of humor, he does have a heart of gold. This is what draws Vanessa to him. Equally profane and immature, the two quickly fall in love and are engaged. All seems perfect in their world… until Wade is diagnosed with aggressive cancer.

Desperate to be cured and live his life with Vanessa, Wade accepts an unusual offer. A man named Ajax (or Francis) offers him a super-serum that will draw out any latent mutant genes in his DNA and turn him into a superhero. The serum will also cure his cancer. Wade agrees to the proposal but quickly realizes he probably should have read the terms and conditions first. In order to activate his mutant genes, he must undergo extreme torture.

The serum works, but not the way Wade expected.  He gets incredible healing powers, strength, and agility. However, he is hideously transformed in the process. On top of that, his already juvenile sense of humor and immature personality is fractured and taken to the extreme. Wade adopts the moniker of Deadpool and begins his insane superhero crusade to be cured and return to his fiancée Vanessa.

Deadpool is rated R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity.

What Worked:

If you’re a fan of the “Deadpool” comics, I think you’ll be pleased with this long-awaited film. It is the Marvel comic faithfully adapted to the big screen, just with a lot more profanity and nudity. Few superhero movies are as faithful to the original source material as Deadpool is. From the chats with the audience through the fourth wall to the cartoon character hijinks, director Tim Miller really nails it. And even if you’re not a fan of the comic, this is an entertaining addition to the superhero film genre. If you combined The Mask with Watchmen, you start to get a sense of what to expect. It’s a raunchy comedy mixed with a superhero movie, yet somehow the two work well together and are unlike anything we’ve seen on the screen before.

With the R rating, Miller and Ryan Reynolds have free reign to do anything… and that’s exactly what they do. We see Deadpool decapitate villains while wisecracking. We see Deadpool break limbs and comically wave the broken appendage around. We see bad guys killed in ways that would make Wyle E. Coyote proud. Deadpool even kills a man with a Zamboni at one point and even he laughs at the absurdity of it in the process. This comic violence generates a lot of laughs and is a real crowd pleaser, and it’s something you don’t see done in other superhero films.

Every once in a while an actor comes along and owns a role. You have Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor. You can now add Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool to that list. Few people could have pulled off this role as a wisecracking mercenary, yet he does. He throws out one-liners non-stop. Some work, some don’t. But he throws out so many, he eventually gets a few to stick. And he handles the action as adeptly as he does the humor. Reynolds is also not above taking shots at himself. There are references to his role in Green Lantern, his unfortunate turn in the Wolverine movie, and more. This willingness to poke fun at himself endears him to the audience and makes his few missteps in the film forgivable.

While Deadpool comes across largely as a solo act, he interacts well with the supporting characters. Most notable are Stefan Kapicic as Colossus and Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead. X-Men fans will be pleased with Colossus. While he looks very CGI in this movie, he still works because he’s the closest we’ve ever seen the character on screen to match the comic character. He’s a gentle giant and a perfect straight man to Deadpool. We also meet Negasonic Teenage Warhead, a new X-Man… or X-Woman. She has cool powers and her surly teenage attitude is perfectly played against Reynolds as Deadpool. Seeing the two provide a connection to the X-Men universe will really make you want to see how this cartoon Deadpool would fit in with the more serious ensemble cast of the other mutant movies.

While Reynolds definitely steals the spotlight as Deadpool, I also have to give recognition to Morena Baccarin as Vanessa. She holds her own with Reynolds and more than matches wits with him. It’s quite a feat. Gina Carano also finally gets to play a superhero as Angel Dust. She has a show-stopping battle with Colossus that is both funny and epic. You wouldn’t expect her to put up much of a fight against Colossus, but it’s a brawl that would make Hulk and Thing proud. Also noteworthy is Karan Soni as Dopinder, the hapless taxi driver that keeps driving Deadpool to his fights (and usually ends up getting stiffed for fare in the process). While the mutant action and special effects battles are noteworthy, the scenes where Deadpool tries to help Dopinder with his girl problems are some of the best scenes in the whole movie. It’s a testament to writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick as they end up making a simple taxi ride a highlight of a superhero film.

Music is a big part of Deadpool and it perfectly sets the lighthearted tone of the film. From hits by Juice Newton to Salt N’ Pepa, you’ll find a number of toe tappers in this. The original music is also written by Junkie XL, fresh off of his amazing score for Mad Max:  Fury Road. This may be a movie soundtrack you’ll want to pick up and listen to more. 

I also have to mention the spectacular opening credits. They’re funny, irreverent, and an amazing technical accomplishment. They immediately put the audience in a good mood before Deadpool even hits the screen and they immediately set the tone for what’s to come. They were really well done.

One last note – stick through the credits for scenes at the very end. I won’t spoil it here, but you’ll want to see them. While we only saw one scene, co-writer Rhett Reese says there will be a second one when the film is released in theaters.

What Didn’t Work:

I’m a bit torn on the R-rated thing. On the one hand, the R rating allows the creators to do the aforementioned comedic violence and extreme humor.  On the other hand, the sight of Deadpool and Colossus is definitely going to lure in children and this is absolutely not appropriate for anyone under 13.  At the screening we were at, parents had brought in 6-year olds. I think if you bring in a kid to this movie, you should probably be investigated by Child Protective Services. And from a business perspective, you’re definitely losing money by going with the R rating. I’ve got two comic fan kids who wanted to see Deadpool but won’t be seeing it for several years. That’s two less movie tickets that it could have sold. I also have to admit that seeing my childhood hero, Stan Lee, as a DJ at a strip club felt… wrong. In a world where comics are being more and more hijacked by adults, I can’t say any of the R-rated sex, language, and violence made this movie any better than it would have been with a PG-13 rating. Should Deadpool have been toned down to a PG-13? It’s an interesting debate. 

As I previously mentioned, Ryan Reynolds takes the shotgun approach to his jokes. If he throws out a lot of them, he improves his odds of some of them hitting. But that means he also has a lot of jokes fall flat. And that’s definitely the case. Reynolds constantly crosses the line from funny to annoying and back again. He’s going to turn off a lot of people with his humor, but fortunately for me he had enough hits to make him ultimately entertaining.

There was one scene in particular that felt particularly forced. Vanessa and Wade make an Empire Strikes Back joke that feels so forced that it could have been from “The Big Bang Theory.” That desperation for pop culture relevance doesn’t always feel natural. 

Deadpool suffers from one other unusual issue. On the internet a couple of years ago, the pre-visualization of a fight scene leaked online and ultimately ended up helping the movie get made thanks to the positive reception. But it also ended up being one of the main fight scenes of the film and the centerpiece of the story. Between that scene being leaked and the trailers and commercials, a significant portion of this movie has been spoiled. I think the less of this movie you’ve seen going in, the better off you’ll be. 

Finally, the ending was a bit weak. It didn’t really match the cynical, snarky, unexpected nature of the rest of the story. I’m not sure what else I would suggest, but it didn’t feel consistent in tone with what came before.

The Bottom Line:

Deadpool fans and comic fans should love this movie. And if you like R-rated comedies or action movies and are tired of the superhero genre, you may enjoy this as well. But definitely leave the kiddies at home.