“Let’s Dance. And by dance, I mean, try to kill each other.”
Ryan Reynolds is channeling his inner Vin Diesel. Vin has some kind of magic potion which lets him make whatever movie he wants just by thinking of it. Seven Fast & Furious movies? That’s all Vin. A Riddick sequel nobody expected or even asked for which was way better than it had any right to be? Check. A role in a Marvel flick? “I am Groot.” As many of you may know, Reynolds has been fighting to get a Deadpool movie off the ground since… Well, forever. He almost succeeded a couple of times, but it never really worked out… Until 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in which he got to play a decidedly unique version of the character. Reaction to the film was overall negative, and a Deadpool solo movie slipped into development hell, where it languished until Reynolds, using his powers of persuasion (and maybe doing something unspeakable to Wolverine’s privates), was able to get an R-rated version of the film greenlit with a budget of fifty million bucks. Was it worth it?
Deadpool opens with a bang, an awe-inspiring opening credits sequence and mammoth action scene (basically an expanded and expensive-looking version of the test footage released a few years ago) filled with graphic and hilarious kills, as well as tons of F-bombs and one-liners of wildly varying levels of cleverness. While the momentum is at an all-time high in the first act, the film quickly segues into the obligatory origin story which is played as straight as ever. Though Deadpool never loses its comic edge, the film does slow down significantly, for a time. Once he gets his powers, however, the movie corrects its course and continues being the jolly romp through murder, obscenity and other punk rock values which make Deadpool stand out from other comedies, action movies, and superhero movies.
Fortunately, while Deadpool is pretty bawdry in terms of comedy, most of its graphic content is in the form of language; the film’s physical elements never really stoop to toilet-humor depths, and the comedy remains charming, rather than eye-rolling, throughout. Likewise, the violence is as gory as the MPAA would reasonably allow, but it’s so over-the-top and audacious, like John Woo meets Bugs Bunny with a tip of the hat to Stephen Chow, that it’s just ludicrous fun, of the cartoon fashion.
Wade Wilson and his supporting players are all perfectly cast. Ryan Reynolds has been working at this chance for at least a decade, so he really brings it, his palpable passion brightening up even the occasional lulls in the narrative. Likewise, Morena Baccarin is a joy to watch in her early scenes, as Wilson’s romantic lead and equal partner, though her role eventually fizzles and she ultimately becomes another in the long line of “superhero third-act damsels in distress.” TJ Miller is Weasel, the hilarious sidekick and would-be partner of our anti-hero, and Leslie Uggams (of all people!) shows up as Blind Al, Deadpool’s roommate and confidant. Meanwhile, Ed Skrein and Gina Carano appear as Ajax and Angel Dust, respectively, the villains who do plenty of menacing without getting in the way of Deadpool’s jolliness.
Lastly, a pair of X-Men are along for the ride: Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand). While they could have been obvious and obnoxious attempts by FOX to force continuity into what would otherwise be a wholly irreverent movie and set up endless sequels and spinoffs which we all know will be stuck in development hell forever before ultimately getting cancelled, they instead serve as great foils to the Deadpool character. Colossus is like a cross between Superman and Captain America (but with a Russian accent), and he is comically decent, a good person who wants Deadpool to do good as well. Meanwhile, Negasonic Teenage Warhead is, despite the ridiculous name, the straight-man in the situation, aloof to Colossus’s teachings, but immune to Deadpool’s sense of humor. Together, they are great foils to each other and to Deadpool himself, offering their scenes together a unique and wholly entertaining dynamic… Even if the CGI on Colossus is pretty spotty.
Deadpool is a unique film: it’s got style, comedy, action, and a surprisingly strong romance. While its lead character is able to go wildly off the rails, the script’s structure remains mostly formulaic. Deadpool isn’t the greatest superhero movie of all time, but it’s good enough for the fans to breathe a long sigh of relief. This is, in fact, the Deadpool movie we’ve all been waiting for.
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