I want to preface this review by saying that Deadpool is a film I wasn’t looking forward to. I’m not a big fan of Ryan Reynolds, the titular character, or his source material, and the bombardment of trailers leading up to the film’s release didn’t help pique my interest in the slightest. All that being said, Deadpool is a film that deserved to be made. It’s a film so rooted in its source material, so true to the character, and it has the appropriate R-rating.
I deeply respect Ryan Reynolds’ passion for the character and his insistence on making a film about Deadpool that actually captures the essence of the beloved character, and this film is successful in doing just that. In that respect, the film is top-notch, and is likely to please tons of fans old and new alike.
As you can tell, I went into Deadpool with low expectations, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have high hopes that it would prove me wrong. Especially after all of the positive buzz it was getting from critics and general audiences alike, I was excited to be wrong. I wanted to be impressed by a film featuring laughs-a-minute, slick fourth-wall-breaking moments, and stylized action scenes.
Unfortunately, I only found myself laughing at a dozen or so jokes, while most of the others left me unfazed. The fourth-wall-breaking moments were hit-or-miss for me as well, with some being really clever, mostly when concerning the real-life state of superhero filmmaking. The action scenes — while being spectacular to look at and at times very fun — don’t necessarily do anything particularly new either.
So what is Deadpool? Deadpool is a comedy-driven superhero film starring Ryan Reynolds as the titular character that plays out as half revenge story and half origin story.
Wade Wilson (soon to become Deadpool) is working as a mercenary in NYC when he meets the love of his life, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Wade is extremely goofy and childish, as he constantly cracks jokes about sex and poop and makes outdated pop culture references. He’s also kind of charming and likeable, almost like the human equivalent of a guilty pleasure.
After a year-long relationship, everything seems to be going right in Wade’s life. Just as he successfully proposes to Vanessa, Wade suddenly collapses, and it’s revealed that Wade has late-stage cancer with no chance of survival. After going through some experimental tests that were supposed to cure him of his cancer, he’s terribly disfigured but also finds himself with the ability to quickly heal any wound that is inflicted on him. He takes on the moniker of “Deadpool” and sets out to get revenge on the people who left him in this terrible state.
In the present, Deadpool is looking to get revenge on Francis, the main bad guy behind the tests. Decked out in his signature red costume and sporting dual handguns and two swords, Deadpool is pretty badass, especially when paired with his new ability to heal wounds. The first action scene is exciting and shows our anti-hero in a fight with Francis and his henchmen on a highway overpass. Alas, the film never recaptures the magic that’s set up in this opening scene, with the following action moments feeling flat in comparison.
As Deadpool is just about to kill Francis, X-Men members Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (yes, that’s actually a character’s name) join the fray to stop Deadpool’s mayhem, and distract him long enough for Francis to flee. The rest of the film centers around Deadpool trying to hunt down Francis to finalize his vengeance.
I have to give it up for Ryan Reynolds, who really surprised me with a fantastic performance as Deadpool. He inhabits the character so well here and it really shows that he knows the character of Deadpool inside and out. If you’re unfamiliar with Deadpool, he is commonly known as the “Merc With A Mouth.” He’s basically a comedian with guns. With every bad guy he kills, he spits out a half-dozen one-liners.
This makes for an interesting and unique “superhero,” and thankfully the character doesn’t ever get annoying, but it’s too bad that the writers of the film couldn’t come up with better jokes or more relevant references (Blade II? Limp Bizkit? The Matrix? Really? In 2016?).
The characters surrounding Deadpool, and the actors that play them, however, are pretty forgettable. Most notably is the bland villain, Francis (Ed Skrein), who — according to the opening credit sequence — is just another “British Villain.” It’s good to see the film poking fun at itself all the time, but it doesn’t help when these are actual problems within the film.
My favorite parts of the film are the scenes between Wade and Vanessa before Wade becomes Deadpool. I’m surprised at how this film — one that features so many juvenile jokes you’d think you’re on a middle school playground — can actually have a sweet side to it. Reynolds and Baccarin have incredible chemistry in these moments, but unfortunately they’re so short-lived.
Deadpool is a film that’s juvenile and crass, bombastic, and over-the-top. It’s not a bad film; it’s actually quite fun at times, at other times quite funny, but I also found it to be uninspired. There are some solid jokes to be found in Deadpool, but the film is often trying too hard to be offensive at every turn, and a lot of the one-liners just didn’t land for me. There’s definitely great potential for the Deadpool series in the future, but this first entry just didn’t especially do it for me.
— Michael Lane, Blog Editor