Director: Tim Miller
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand, Leslie Uggams, Karan Soni, the voice of Stefan Kapicic
MPAA Rating: (for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity)
Running Time: 1:48
Release Date: 2/12/16
Review by Mark Dujsik | February 11, 2016
"I may be super, but I'm no hero," the super-powered anti-hero says. Having the character state this observation outright is the most direct of the many tricks Deadpool attempts in order to convince us that this is not a normal superhero movie. Methinks the character and the movie do protest too much.
There really isn't anything new here. The movie tells yet another superhero origin story, although the structure of the screenplay by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (dubbed "The Real Heroes Here" in the movie's jokey opening credits—one of the few moments of genuine semi-inspiration to be found here) tries to distract from that fact by shuffling the narrative's order. There's a lot of bloody and sometimes disgusting violence spread liberally throughout the movie, as bullets explode out of the skulls of bad guys and other villains lose their heads to the anti-hero's swords and one guy is splattered into the shape of a pancake after being launched into an overhead freeway sign.
Then there's Deadpool himself. The character is, well, a smart-ass. He's a comic book character who is fully aware that he's part of a comic book, and here, he's fully aware that he's part of a comic book movie. He will constantly refer to the movie's supposed virtues (informing the dates of comic fans that their confusion about the excessive violence on display is warranted, because, "This is a different kind of superhero story") and shortcomings (There are a couple of amusing jokes about the movie's budgetary restraints being responsible for the noticeable absence of other noteworthy superheroes), either through narration or directly breaking the fourth wall by staring at the camera to address the audience. Of course, the protagonist even has to make certain we know that he is fully aware of doing this ("A fourth-wall break inside a fourth-wall break? That's, like, 16 walls!").
All of it turns out to be a lot of misdirection. Beneath the layers of the façade, this really is just your normal, average superhero movie. It just happens to be one in which the main character possesses no moral qualms about killing his foes, revels in the resulting carnage, swears up a storm, and is quick with a pop-culture reference for any situation (All of those references are about 20 years out-of-date, because they're what the target audience is familiar with and apparently wants to hear). He's a character who puts in a lot of effort to make it appear that he doesn't care about anything.
The movie is like that, too. It's trying so hard for appreciation while attempting to maintain an air of apathy that it comes across as more than a little desperate. It's not uncertain about itself, though. This is a movie that knows exactly what it wants to do—to poke fun at the deathly serious tone and the assorted clichés that have become common within superhero movies. The character might be the right one for the job. It's tough to tell at this point, though, because this movie certainly isn't up to the task.
Ryan Reynolds plays the wise-cracking anti-hero, who began as Wade Wilson, a mercenary-for-hire who kills and threatens people for profit. After falling in love with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), Wade learned that he had terminal cancer throughout his body and volunteered for experimental treatment that would force any genetic mutation out of his DNA. He gained superpowers, including the ability to heal quickly and regenerate parts of his body, but was left deformed.
The story starts in media res, as Wade's alter-ego Deadpool is hunting for Ajax (Ed Skrein), the generic villain who made him into what he is. A series of flashbacks fill us in on the back story, including a montage of him testing out different costumes, torturing and killing goons to find his nemesis, reconnecting with his bartender buddy Weasel (T.J. Miller), and finding a blind roommate (Leslie Uggams) who won't mind the sight of him or his odd masturbation ritual.
The plot follows the routine path, and the gimmick of the walking, talking id that is Deadpool only lasts for so long before even the character seems to fall into a routine. The screenplay's most clever device is the inclusion of two superheroes from the X-Men to serve as foils for the protagonist. The hulking, metallic Colossus (voice of Stefan Kapicic) offers advice about the true nature of a hero, which Deadpool ignores, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) is a moody superhero who wears her annoyance with Deadpool's constant joking with a silent, dagger-like stare. The duo serves to represent everything Deadpool isn't and refuses to be, so it's telling that they're more intriguing and, often, funnier than our roguish anti-hero.
Deadpool is the superhero as a novelty act. Once the novelty of a self-aware comic book protagonist wears off, we're only left with the familiar bits and the realization of how transparent the gimmick was in the first place. Most of Deadpool, then, is familiar and transparent.
Copyright © 2016 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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