Director: Tim Miller
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Ed Skrein, Michael Benyaer, Brianna Hilderbrand, Stefan Kapicic, Gina Carano
Written by: Rhett Reece, Paul Wernick, (based on the characters created) Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza
Running Time: 108 mins
Release date: 10th February 2016
After years of languishing in development hell, Ryan Reynolds’ fifth attempt to be comic book hero finally hits our screen: a self-deprecating, anti-superhero movie for adults, with extreme violence, a very potty mouth and turning the whole comic book movie world on its head and giving it a good shake. It’s a film that has a surprisingly touching love story as well, yet all this good work amounts to a finale they have been mocking most of the movie, making it, well, just another superhero movie.
Wade Wilson is a former Special Ops soldier who saves the little people from stalkers and other ne’er do wells. Madly in love with Vanessa, he discovers he has an uncontrollable cancer that is slowly killing him. Offer the chance to be cured, Wade heads into an experimental lab led by Ajax, only to find himself being used to form a super army made up of mutants. Wade manages to escape but finds he is stronger and faster than before and has a healing quality, yet left with a horribly deformed face. Determined to seek his revenge, he becomes Deadpool, an anti-superhero, the merc with the mouth.
There is no denying that Deadpool is a very funny film. Brimming to the edge with wise cracks and smutty remarks, it plays out like some naughty school kid who has learnt to swear and wants to share his talents with the world. It also breaks most of the screen’s rules: talking directly to the audience, ridiculing itself and other films in the genre, even poking fun at its own lead and the rest of the cast.
Yet behind all this self mockery and playfulness, Deadpool comes at us with a longing purpose: to change our preconceptions of what a superhero movie is. We have long been down that formula many times, in which we get a complex plotline with subplots and surprises along the way but ultimately we end up at the same place, a huge final set piece where good fights bad and as much destruction as possible. The way Deadpool acts, it looks, for quite some time like it’s going to deliver something very different in the way of a finale.
Alas, it doesn’t and this is where the film falls down. We spend the majority of the time watching this red suit character ripping shreds off the X-Men, in particular Wolverine (Hugh Jackman is the brunt of many jokes). It even pokes fun of the DC world (Wade asking not to be made green or animated is a direct assault to Reynolds’ Green Lantern days). By the time the final act is upon us, we are hoping it will come up with something deliciously new. It doesn’t. Once again we get another overlong fight sequence on board a dilapidated aircraft carrier (no idea either) and even though the quips are flying thick and fast, it back to the same old same old.
Which is such a shame because Deadpool is incredibly confident in its own skin. Breaking the four wall (or in one case breaking it again, making it break 16 times) while blasting out gags about race, disabilities, and even Ikea. It is firing on all cylinders that you want something more than just another glorified fight scene.
Thankfully the cast are all in on the joke. Reynolds, who almost publically got on bended knee to have this film made by creating his own short video, is terrific as the lead, a solid comic creation full of bravado and confidence while still managing the occasional tender moment and throwing in opinions of how we view disability in this world. Having failed to ignite the comic book world in the past, this is the role he was born to play and he does it with aplomb.
Deadpool is quirky, offbeat and very adult fun. Its violence is graphic and its humour is sometimes shocking but guiltily, you do find yourself laughing and asking if you should be. I was hoping that this anarchic film would be a huge game changer in the world of the comic book movie. For most of its running time, it does and yes, I laughed a lot. Sadly, it just seemed to give up by the end and just played out like every other Marvel movie. I guess I was asking for far too much.