A friend of a friend described this film in a single sentence, which was: there is a new way to spell “perfect”, and it’s Deadpool…
…there are two things wrong with that statement: 1) it would have been more effective if she spelt D-E-A-D-P-O-O-L and not just said it, and 2) it is far from “perfect”. Despite her failed attempt at droll wit and her overzealous one-word review, she was right in her assessment to a point as it is a very enjoyable film that delivers everything you expect and more (quite literally as there is stuff in this film that should not be in a 15 certificate film. More on that later…).
It tells the story of Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a former Special Forces operative turned mercenary, who falls in love and finds happiness with an escort, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) only to be told that he has multiple organ cancer. In an effort to cure his condition he undergoes experimental treatment at the hands of villains-of-the-piece Francis “Ajax” Freeman (Ed Skrein) and Angel Dust (Gina Carano), both of whom are mutants with the former having super strength and an inability to feel pain and the latter having the same super strength along with super speed. They trick Wilson into thinking that they will cure his cancer and turn him into a superhero, when they really want to torture him to the point of potentially unleashing any mutant genes in his DNA to cure his cancer and make him their super-slave. This is a success and Wilson gains the power of regeneration and his cancer is fought off, but the torture has left him horrifically scarred and when he escapes from his confinement he sets off on a mission to find Ajax for the cure for his condition.
So, let’s start with the good. Under its wise-cracking, violent surface this is a superhero origins story, but it doesn’t play like others in this genre which gives it a freshness in a day and age where a superhero is rebooted every few years or so. It starts with Deadpool in mid action in his quest to find Ajax and cuts back and to between the present and the past where we see the events that led him to where he is today. It makes a lovely change from the usual A-to-B formula these types of films often take. The action is well-paced and packs a punch with some good set pieces (unfortunately the best has been seen more-or-less in full in the trailer). The comedy is at its best when Deadpool breaks the fourth wall by referring to studio budgets and other comic book films, which is, again, a breath of fresh air in this genre of film. The performance of Ryan Reynolds in the titular role should be celebrated as he was born to play this part. You can tell that he has been at the forefront of getting this character a film he deserves after his abysmal outing in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. There is a commitment, passion and understanding of this character in his performance and it brings Deadpool to life, and this is from someone who has never rated Reynolds as an actor at all.
However, as mentioned above, this is by no means a perfect film. Whilst I laughed at most of the funny bits the toilet humour it often falls back on to get a laugh does become wearisome. What starts with a laugh becomes a titter when heard again, which then becomes a faint grin, which then produces no emotion. It stops short of getting irritating but when you belly-laugh at the clever wit of the film and then have another joke that could have been plagiarised from a Viz comic it can lead to frustration as the writers can obviously produce better. Was the final draft of the script edited by the producer’s thirteen year old son?! I mean, how many jokes about masturbating and male genitalia do we need in one film?! This leads us on to the grossly inappropriate scenes of a sexual nature. Okay, we’re not talking Basic Instinct levels of nudity and sex but I’d say what we do see would be classed as a mid-level 18 certificate. There is strong language throughout and it is violent and messy at times, too. How this passed the BBFC as a 15 I will never know! What makes this worse is that the parent behind us in the queue to get in had brought his under-age son to watch this film (it was his fifteenth birthday, apparently) and he had barely reached his teens! Cinema-goers: this is most certainly NOT a film for children!
The only other gripe is the film’s villains. Whilst they are played well by Ed Skrein and Gina Careno, they have very little to work with and they are bland as far as villains go. Okay, they don’t have the most amazing and visually striking super powers and they are not wearing any eye-catching costumes, but look to Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy on how to create a more impressive villain that lacks the flash and pazzazz of the Marvel Cinematic Universe offerings. The themes of Deadpool and Batman may differ significantly, but the director could have learnt a thing or two by watching Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises on how to inject a bit more character into its villains with little to work with.
This may sound like I hated the film, but I really didn’t. In fact, it will be gracing my Blu-ray collection as soon as it is released (that’s more for my fiancée though as she loved it). I laughed all the way through and enjoyed it immensely, and I’m looking forward to re-watching it and the already-announced sequel.
Oh, and Deadpool is a Marvel character, so don’t do what half the audience did in our screening and leave when the end credits start rolling as there is a sting (I thought this was common knowledge now?!).