Review: DEADPOOL (2016)

Everyone’s favorite character from X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE finally gets his own stand-alone film. They did retcon a lot of stuff though; except for a few cute references they ignore pretty much everything that happened in the first film. Must be a blow for all the ORIGINS fans out there…

By now it’s clear that DEADPOOL, the superhero movie Ryan Reynolds has been dying to make for 11 years and which has now finally been released to the public, is a resounding success. While the marketing campaign was a joy and the online buzz seemed to be mostly positive, I don’t think anyone was expecting it to make this much money. After all, this is not the type of big, safe blockbuster that today’s audiences expect their superheroes to appear in. Instead, DEADPOOL is a weird little film, made on a fraction of the budget and proudly wearing its R rating on its sleeve. We get blood, naughty words, men getting ass-fucked with a strap-on – basically all the things you and I love to see in our entertainment, but that movie studios generally consider to be bad for box office.

Another reason why DEADPOOL’s success is so special is that it stars Ryan Reynolds… yet it hasn’t bombed! While as a rule I don’t feel sorry for anyone who’s ever had sex with Scarlett Johansson, even I was starting to feel a little bad seeing such a likeable dude star in one piece of shit after another. GREEN LANTERN, R.I.P.D., SELF/LESS… for a long time it seemed like our Canadian friend just couldn’t catch a break. But we shouldn’t be sad anymore, all that is in the past now. Because Reynolds has finally made his mark by delivering a fresh kind of superhero film that a whole lot of people have fallen in love with – myself included.

The plot of this thing is incredibly simple. Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, a badass mercenary with a heart of gold who falls in love with an awesome chick played by Morena Baccarin (who you’ll recognize from shows like FIREFLY and HOMELAND). For a short time they’re super happy together and they literally have all the sex, but then Wilson finds out he’s got terminal cancer. Luckily a dude comes along, saying not only can he cure Wilson, he can give him goddamn superpowers. Sounds like a good deal, but what they don’t tell him is he’s gotta go through absolute hell first, and once he gets the powers they’re not just gonna let him go – instead he’s gonna have to work for them for the rest of his life. So Wilson does the logical thing, he escapes and starts using his powers to take down the organisation that screwed him over. As a response the lead villain kidnaps his girlfriend, leading to an action-filled climax during which Wilson, now Deadpool, takes on an army of bad guys to get back the love of his life.

So yes, DEADPOOL is pretty light on story. Too light, according to a couple reviews I’ve read, but for me it’s exactly what I’ve been craving. Lack of focus is one of the main things wrong with action films in general these days. Most of them tend to overcomplicate themselves. It’s like a laser focused revenge story is beneath them; they also gotta have mystery villains, major plot twists and all kinds of other convoluted crap that nobody goes to see an action film for. Not this film though, and that makes me very happy indeed.

I’m guessing you already know this by now, but the gimmick with Deadpool is that he likes to break the fourth wall a lot. Meaning he knows he’s a character in a movie and often addresses the audience directly, cracking meta jokes that are sometimes clever, often funny and pretty much always vulgar as hell. When I saw the trailers, this is the part that worried me the most. Hearing Reynolds rant about his own career while in character, especially his part in X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (where he also played Deadpool, only they fucked up the character beyond recognition), sounded like it would be fun at first, but might become very irritating very quickly. Turns out that’s not the case – I couldn’t get enough of it! It helped that so many of the jokes were actually laugh-out-loud funny and that comedy is not the only weapon in DEADPOOL’s arsenal. It’s also got a surprising amount of heart, can get pretty damn vicious at times and delivers at least two supremely enjoyable action sequences. It’s got good music too, by which I mean a pleasant selection of 80’s pop songs as well as a decent score by my fellow countryman Junkie XL. I’m pretty proud of myself for immediately recognizing the sample from Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” that he slips in there a couple times.

Reynolds was right in chasing this thing for 11 years, it’s quite obviously the part he was born to play. He does an outstanding job carrying the bulk of the film on his shoulders, although he does get strong support from Baccarin and some other folks. There’s his best buddy Weasel, who’s the sarcastic funny guy to Reynolds’ straight man other sarcastic funny guy, there’s Dopinder the wacky cab driver, plus Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, two X-Men with stupid names that show up to annoy/help him. The only character I wasn’t too fond of is the main villain. Ed Skrein (who you might have seen on GAME OF THRONES or in the useless TRANSPORTER reboot) doesn’t really bring anything special to the role of Ajax, the sadistic Brit who menaces Deadpool throughout the film. I feel like there must’ve been at least a dozen other actors in his price range who could’ve done a better job. Oh well.

Generic villain or not, I had a blast with DEADPOOL. How lovely to be able to start the movie year in such bloody, R-rated fashion! Even better, the success of this thing will likely pave the way for more superhero movies to get their hands dirty. An early example is WOLVERINE 3, which had its R rating confirmed just a few days ago. All I can say to that is, bring it on!

One thought on “Review: DEADPOOL (2016)

  1. Maybe even the likes of me will start to enjoy superhero movies with this darker, funnier style. And don’t ask why, but I can’t look at Reynolds without thinking about Van Wilder.

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