FILM REVIEW - DEADPOOL
Directed by Tim Miller.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein.
Puerile, crude and very silly.
This is Ryan Reynolds second trip to the Deadpool buffet after a not-so-successful stab at the part in Gavin Hood’s disastrous Wolverine cash-in back in 2009. It’s not so much that Reynolds was born to play the comic character, more that the character is a slight variation on every sarcastic wise-ass role that Reynolds has ever played.
In fairness, it’s a part that plays well to the actor’s limited strengths. Deadpool is a movie that wears its knowingness on its (red spandex) sleeve. It is stuffed with so many fanboy-pleasing in-jokes and meta references that it’s easy to lose track of who is laughing at what. And the jokes come thick and fast. If one doesn’t land, there’s another three right behind it.
But for all its edgy credentials and convention-breaking style, Deadpool is still a typical comic book movie. So of course we get the origin story. Once upon a time, Wade Wilson (Reynolds) was a nice, sweet mercenary-for-hire. A hero of teenage twitterati everywhere, Wilson makes his living by going around and roughing up creepy stalkers for cash. After a cancer diagnosis, he volunteers for a top-secret weapons program and undergoes an experimental procedure that promises to cure his disease. The process cures Wilson’s cancer, but also gives him accelerated healing powers (because… comics) and turns him into something that looks like a Peperami flavoured walnut (or “a testicle with teeth”). Then, vengeance etcetera.
First-time director Tim Miller handles the action well and puts the (relatively) modest budget to work where it’s most needed. The opening sequence (replicating some of the leaked test footage that helped to kickstart the project) is marvellously frantic, combining bullet time with a high speed car chase and some inventively kinetic brawling.
Whether through choice or necessity, the landscape of Deadpool feels strangely uninhabited. This in itself is not a bad thing. The low-key finale is oddly reminiscent of Bryan Singer’s first X-Men effort, and a refreshing antidote to the usual “use all the CGI” shambles of similar efforts. Miller has avoided the “too many characters” trap of, say, Avengers: Age of Ultron or Amazing Spider-Man 2. It is also a blessing, because most of the non-Deadpool characters are quite poor. The main villain (played by Ed Skrein) is the Chinese bootleg version of Jason Statham, and an entirely CG’d Colossus is particularly weak. Ronda Rousey’s dialogue-free sub-villain doesn’t even get a name, and Morena Baccarin is frustratingly maltreated as Wilson’s love interest-slash-prostitute. Her role amounts to nothing more than a walking set of Ann Summers lingerie.
Deadpool is like a Home Alone version of X-Men with cussing, nudity and acres of gratuitous violence. It’s puerile, crude and very silly. In short, it’s everything that the fans have been hoping for.