He wears a mask, but he’s not Batman. He wears a red suit, but he’s not Spider-Man. He has regenerative powers, but he’s not Wolverine. He is Deadpool. You know that guy that we’ve all encountered at some point in our lives, the guy that says whatever he wants, is charming yet a jerk at the same time, can make the entire room laugh without so much as a hint of effort—that’s Deadpool.
The comic book world knows Deadpool best as “the Merc with a Mouth.” Actor Ryan Reynolds has been lobbying for a standalone Deadpool movie for some time, but it wasn’t until the Internet caught glimpse of some leaked test footage that the clamor began. First-time director Tim Miller helms Deadpool and impressively crafts a film that is a mix of near perfect comic self-awareness, gruesome violence, and vulgarity that matches much of the tone that defines the character. On top of all of this, Ryan Reynolds was made to play this role and he completely owns the film.
Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a former Special Forces operative working as a mercenary; he is a smart aleck with a soft side for helping those who can’t help themselves. Wade meets Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) and falls in love; everything is going good until he finds out that he has terminal cancer. Looking for a cure, Wade is led to an experimental treatment, one that basically tortures him, disfigures him, and turns him into a reluctant superhero seeking simple revenge.
The narrative is structured through a series of flashbacks, basically an origin story woven into an action sequence. While this method has potential in creating some pacing issues, Mr. Miller does a fine job of keeping the film moving with purpose, keeping everything quick, and utilizing the time to play out the best scenarios in each scene. Everything within this film is completely self-aware; it understands the world of the superhero films that have already been established but also the reality of the people starring in the films. I don’t want to spoil the fun by revealing too much of this aspect, but when the “sexiest man alive” cover featuring Ryan Reynolds floats across the screen, you know you’re in for a good time. Mr. Miller keeps this aspect consistently amusing throughout most of the film, though it is slightly overdone, especially when the film needs to find its footing in the finale.
Ryan Reynolds does a fantastic job of utilizing his natural charm to find a comfortable balance between being comically self-deprecating and wittily brash. The performance is very similar to some of Mr. Reynolds' early work in films like Van Wilder and Waiting… The supporting cast is good as well; T.J. Miller is a great sidekick of sorts to Deadpool and Morena Baccarin builds a sexually-charged dynamic with Mr. Reynolds as the perfect love interest for this kind of film. Unfortunately, the villains aren’t as good. Ed Skrein plays Ajax, a mutant villain who never seems to be a significant match for Deadpool. Mr. Skrein is overshadowed in most of the scenes, though this is not the fault of Mr. Skrein’s performance, but rather an issue with the script that never seems too concerned with building a proper foe for Deadpool.
The action is violent and bloody here, a definite surprise for those only familiar with The Avengers or X-Men films. It’s a comedic roast of the identity that accompanies superhero films, an interesting direction that doesn’t fall into the family-friendly formula that Marvel has typified with their summer blockbusters. Deadpool is a hard R-rated film targeted for mature viewers and fans; it’s a welcome addition to the superhero catalogue. Deadpool is bound to become a franchise of its own, and this introduction is a great foundation for the future. It’s funny, gory, and completely self-aware… the Deadpool that fans have been waiting for.
Movie Score: 4/5