“Deadpool” Movie Review


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     For nearly ten years, it is said Ryan Reynolds led a crusade at 20th Century Fox to not only get an origin story for “Deadpool”, an “X-Men” sub character who last made an appearance in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, but to produce the film knowing they would be turning the superhero genre on its head. Known as the “Merc with a Mouth” for his colorful choice of words in nearly every situation, it’s clear why the former “Van Wilder” star would see himself squeezed into the red spandex of the reluctant hero as it appears to be an opportunity to combine the elements of the raunchy comedies he is noted for with the now time tested formula of a Marvel superhero story.  And for the most part, the final product works.  Working with first time feature director Tim Miller and “Zombieland” scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, Reynolds creates an on screen persona as vulgar and ill mannered as any Marvel Studios exec would have ever thought possible in their very worst of nightmares.  Reynolds had always said in order to do it right, the film would need to be produced as a “hard R”, upping the ante at every turn with copious amounts of sex, profanity, and brutal violence and gore.

     That’s a lot to ask of a studio, but with an investment reported to be around $58 million, “Deadpool” was a relatively small gamble when compared to the budgets north of $200 million for the “Avengers” films.  Still, Marvel’s reputation is always on the line and no one wanted to be the one that broke the streak of successful sub character origin story launches which includes the massive successes of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Ant-Man”.  Of course “Deadpool”, falling within the realm of the “X-Men”, is licensed to 20th Century Fox, so there was even more pressure on the filmmakers to succeed without the golden touch of Disney behind them.  

     Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is a former Special Forces soldier who now works as a low level mercenary for an underground organization hired to handle various problems.  Now when I say low level, I mean he is sent on such all important missions as threatening a teenage pizza delivery boy who won’t stop stalking a former girlfriend.  Not exactly the cool stuff you would expect from a presumably highly trained ex military guy.  Nonetheless, Wade seems to be content with the job, reporting nightly to a bartender named Weasel (T.J. Miller), who appears to be the one that passes on new work and ensures the mercenaries are paid.  Of course a woman changes all of that in an instant when Wade meets Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), a hooker who decides to quit her day job when the couple falls in love.  Their fledgling romance is cut short; however, when Wade finds out he has Stage 4 untreatable cancer in nearly every critical part of his body, leaving him with no where to turn.

     As is so often the case in superhero movies, a strange man enters the mercenary hangout and asks for Wade specifically.  The man claims to have a treatment that will not only cure Wade’s cancer, but will also give him superpowers.  In return, it is expected he work for yet another underground and likely nefarious organization, leaving Wade with plenty to think about.  When Wade decides to take the man up on his offer, he quickly learns all is not as it seems, but that’s exactly what you would expect in a story like this as it follows a path similar to nearly all of the origin films before it.  In a not so sterile lab environment, Wade is subjected to all sorts of physical torture while being injected with countless substances designed to get him to mutate.  This mutation will ultimately cure his cancer, but also is said to give him the power of healing, making him literally impervious to permanent injury.  Now with “Deadpool” essentially being a revenge story, the villain is revealed in the form of the two people charged with putting Wade through all of this torture and in the process permanently disfiguring him.

     If you’ve seen the many trailers and television commercials that have flooded the airwaves and the internet for nearly a year, than you know every major plot point the film has to offer.  And that’s my major gripe with this whole thing.  Ajax (Ed Skrein) and Angel Dust (Gina Carano) are clearly presented as the bad guys in the trailer, going as far as showing both the moment in which Wade is disfigured, as well as several scenes from the climactic battle at the end.  Those ads even show us two X-Men, Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), who have spent time attempting to recruit Deadpool and assist him in fighting Ajax.  You know you have a problem when the complexity of your film’s plot can be explained in whole with a two and half minute trailer.  I think the antics of the character and the promise of raunchy dialogue would have been enough, but the ad department decided to show in near entirety key scenes and lines from every part of the film.  There are no surprises or revelations to be had, but that’s not to say what’s on screen isn’t highly entertaining.  Quite the opposite really as Miller seems as adept as anyone at constructing a well choreographed action sequence.

     And for those claiming “Deadpool” has broken new ground or functions as a “game changer” within the comic book film world, I would ask if you remember a 2010 film called “Kick-Ass” which featured characters very much like the ones in “Deadpool”, including an 11 year old foul mouthed female superhero who was responsible for just as much violent carnage and bloodshed.  If “Deadpool” excels anywhere it’s the consistent tongue and cheek dialogue in which Wade (as Deadpool) talks into the camera directly to the audience in much the same way Kevin Spacey does in “House of Cards”.  These incites let us know we get to be in on the joke, as the lead character himself knows they are following a tried and true formula, but have also decided to allow the character to be more like us.  Which is the main reason the “Kick-Ass” comparison is so prevalent.  There is; however, no doubt Ryan Reynolds has found his calling in what will likely become his signature character.  His performance is so witty and utterly head strong that even the sins of his 2011 “Green Lantern” flop could ultimately be forgiven.  

GRADE: B-