Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Tim Miller
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Ed Skrein, Morena Baccarin, T J Miller, Leslie Uggams, Gina Carano, Stan Lee, Jed Rees, Taylor Hickson, Brianna Hildebrand, Kyle Cassie, Stefan Kapicic.
After the bloated, special effects heavy juggernaut that was Avengers: Age Of Ultron, it seemed that the Marvel tent pole releases were becoming a little too formulaic, predictable, stagnant and safe. To their credit though Marvel seemed to mix it up a little by producing a couple of crowd pleasers featuring some of the lesser known characters from their stable. Guardians Of The Galaxy was a solid piece of entertainment that broke away from the usual superhero mold, while Antman took the smallest hero in their stable and gave us one of their better movies.
And now in a bold move they’ve brought one of their most unusual and atypical superheroes to the screen with Deadpool. However, Deadpool (played with relish by Ryan Reynolds) is more of an anti-hero, a narcissistic former mercenary who doesn’t really care about anybody but himself. We first met Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in which he was decapitated in a move that didn’t quite endear itself to loyal fans and comic book nerds. But now he is back in his own origins story and it is a lot of fun. Here the character of Deadpool also closely resembles the character of Hannibal King, the sword wielding, wise cracking vampire hunter played by Reynolds in 2004’s Blade: Trinity.
It’s hard to imagine anyone else but Reynolds playing the character, especially since Deadpool himself suggested in one of the comic books that if ever they made a movie about him he should be played by Reynolds. Reynolds has had mixed success in the past though playing comic book characters and superheroes – there was the awful Green Lantern misfire, and the dire R.I.P.D with Jeff Bridges, both of which were massive flops. He is perfectly cast here and brings plenty of snark to the role. It looks like he is enjoying himself immensely. And he also has the physicality to pull off the demanding action sequences.
Deadpool has an unlimited canon of pop cultural references at his disposal, and his dialogue is laden with song lyrics and film references. And it is also quite profane at times, and full of self referential humour and self-deprecating humour, much of it directed at Wolverine itself. And Reynolds also breaks the fourth wall at times by directly addressing the audience and offering a sort of running commentary on the action. Which is handy since the film unfolds in a fractured narrative style that actually begins in the middle of the story and unfolds in a series of extended flashbacks.
When we first meet Deadpool he is Ward Wilson, a sharp tongued former mercenary who is down on his luck. But when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer his life changes. He is offered a chance at radical therapy by a mysterious stranger (Ed Skrein, recently seen taking over the lead in the reboot of the Transporter franchise). It’s a deal with the devil, but the desperate Wilson leaps at the chance. But the botched treatment leaves him horribly disfigured – his face looks like an avocado that mated with an avocado – and with regenerative powers, so that bullets may pass through him but he quickly heals, making him for all intents and purposes invulnerable. Assuming the identity of Deadpool, and hidden beneath a red and black spandex costume (because it hides the blood), Wilson sets out on a mission of vengeance.
Deadpool is one of the more violent, sexy and profanity laden films in the Marvel stable, and is certainly not suitable for the younger audiences who are normally the target audience. The violence though is tempered by generous lashings of humour, but most of it is unapologetically offensive and over the top. The irreverent tone is set from the opening credit sequences which offers up such unusual credits as “directed by some overpaid tool” in lieu of normal credits.
Deadpool is the debut feature film directorial effort for Tim Miller, a former animator and visual effects creator who is probably best known for his work on the adaptation of the cult graphic novel Scott Pilgrim Versus The World. Miller is an unabashed fan of the character and the comic books, and captures the right anarchic tone and flavour of the source material, originally created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicleza, which will undoubtedly please the fans. He directs with kinetic energy, and the action is fast and furious, but edited in that frenetic style preferred by most younger filmmakers, that renders some of the action almost incomprehensible.
Miller has assembled a strong supporting cast that includes Morena Baccarin (from the first season of Homeland, etc) as Wilson’s smart, sexy and feisty girlfriend Vanessa, who is also vulnerable, and T J Miller who brings some comic moments to his performance as Weasel, Deadpool’s friend and sometime assistant. Unfortunately Skrein struggles to make his underwritten role of the mutant villain Ajax much of a memorable villain, and he is a bit bland and one-dimensional. Leslie Uggams provides some laughs as Wilson’s sharp tongued blind housemate Blind Al.
Deadpool is a violent, profane and subversive comic book adaptation that will appeal to those audiences who also enjoyed the similarly edgy Kick-Ass, which turned the traditional comic book genre upside down. And a sequel is already in the works, which will be good news for fans.