The Merc with a Mouth is finally on the big screen, but is Deadpool dead on arrival or alive and kicking?
This movie had been a long time coming. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for actors who try again and again to get that great superhero role, fail, and then succeed majestically. After being linked to every single superhero role from Batman to Superman to Constantine of all things, and then the flop of Ghost Rider, I was delighted to see Nicolas Cage kill it as Big Daddy in Kick Ass. Then there was poor Ryan Reynolds, whose Green Lantern we all wish we could escape the sight, of finally getting to bring Marvel’s merc with a mouth to the screen. Of course he has had a crack at playing the role before for about five minutes in the much maligned X-Men Origins: Wolverine (although I will forever maintain that X-Men: The Last Stand is worse), but now he has full studio and budget backing to really shine.
Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a man on a mission. Former Special Forces and now a mercenary he helps those in need, but for a price and not necessarily in the nicest way. He falls for Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), a hooker with a heart of gold. When Wade discovers that he has terminal cancer it seems that it’s the end, but a mysterious organisation led by Ajax (Ed Skrein) offers to cure him and give him super powers. It sounds like an offer too good to be true, and it is. Hideously scarred and incapable of dying the newly christened Deadpool hunts down Ajax to make the villain fix him so that he can return to the love of his life.
Deadpool is actually a surprisingly difficult character to get right; it’s not all breaking the fourth wall jokes. There was certainly no way this could have been a 12a, and my heart goes out to all cinema ushers who will have to deal with young teenagers trying to sneak into this film, because anything less than over the top would have felt cheap. And oh boy is it over the top. Blood is everywhere, no sexually risqué joke is off the table, and no superhero movie is safe from mockery. I found myself laughing from the opening credits. Unsurprisingly Ryan Reynolds is perfect; hilarious, annoying and just the right level of sweet, if morally dubious, anti-hero. The relationship with Baccarin’s Vanessa is also one of the film’s high points in my opinion; they both have this compatible craziness that works together and makes them happy, and is sweet in a slightly twisted way. His dialogue is snappy, quick, although maybe not always clever. Add into that some of the most kinetic action sequences we’ve seen in a superhero film with soundtrack integration that puts it on the same level as Guardians of the Galaxy and Scott Pilgrim vs the World.
However it’s a bit of a shame that the attention to writing doesn’t really apply to the story as much as the dialogue. Most of the movie is taken up with the Required Origin via Gratuitous Flashback Syndrome, so really other than the opening sequence there’s actually little full-on Deadpooling in Deadpool. Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead are fun, but ultimately add nothing other than to establish that this is connected to Fox’s X-Men films. If anything they just stop the movie from ending after thirty minutes because they screw up Deadpool’s revenge operation. Although they do at least provide backup for the final sequence in an alarmingly large and oddly abandoned scrap yard. It is a good climax; Gina Carano was a genius choice as the super-strong Angel Dust, her and Ed Skrein are clearly having a blast playing the bad guys, and her fight with Colossus is great. However the central conflict with Deadpool’s character, that he wants Ajax to fix his face because Vanessa will never love him otherwise, is pretty weak. Yes, I can believe that Deadpool would go on a bloody revenge mission for something like that, he would go on a bloody revenge mission because someone stole his last chimichanga, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this could have all been dealt with and then we could have just gone back to killing three guys with one bullet, poking at all familiar superhero movie tropes, and making fun of Hugh Jackman. I suppose really plot isn’t the point of a Deadpool movie, and everything it does it does well, but it feels like something is missing.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that you are going to have a great time watching this film. It’s not groundbreaking, it’s not going to change the genre, it’s just a great time and sometimes that’s all you need. Enjoy.
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