Spoiler Alert: The following review contains minor plot spoiler.
Disclaimer: This film contains a lot of violence, crude humour and irreparable damage to fourth walls.
Deadpool follows an ex-mercenary who gets diagnosed with cancer and is forced to agree to very shady procedures in order to be cured. Not only does he get cured but receives the ability to heal quickly from even the deadliest of wounds… and also leaving him looking ugly as all hell.
Many could argue that the superhero genre has become bloated and stale in recent years as it has risen in popularity. Not because they are necessarily bad films, though some definitely are (being rightfully mocked at various points in the film), but that they all feel very similar and tame. With these kinds of by the books, cliché superhero films being such big box office guarantees, studios do not see the need to take a gamble in making a mature over the top superhero movie. However, after strong lobbying from first time director Tim Miller and Ryan Reynolds, who’s career has been over-shadowed by a string of box office flops and sub par romance films in recent years, as well very positive reactions to leaked test footage on the internet, Fox Studios decided to green light Deadpool. Armed with a small budget compared to superhero films, shaky production beginnings (it was in development hell for 10 years), and source material that many believed simply could not be transferred to the big screen. Deadpool was expected to fail as a movie, after all this is not Deadpool’s first movie foray into film, with the widely panned appearance in X-men Origins: Wolverine, where he was also portrayed by Ryan Reynolds. What was seen as chains that would tether the film from ever rising above, turned out to be the balloons that lift it not only above superhero movies but above many films in general.
It’s the makers of this films’ passion that is the driving force behind the movie. It is clear from the start that the two men behind the script, Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, understood the character of Deadpool, often referred as The Merc with the Mouth, and how his mind works. At no point in the film do the jokes feel forced or out of character and there are a lot of jokes. It is Deadpool’s signature fourth wall breaks that this attention to the character really shines through. Deadpool is fully aware of whats going on around him. Not just within the movie but the world in which the film exists. It is this awareness that allows the films humour to expand out of the boundaries of it’s fictional universe and create satire out of things the audience has experienced. This is especially well done with Ryan Reynolds’ past superhero attempts. All this would never truly come together if it were not for Ryan Reynolds however.
Every so often an actor comes along and completely embodies a role to the point where they become the character they portray. Notable mentions include Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark/Iron Man and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. The key word in that sentence being ‘becomes’ for unlike Downey Jr and Jackman, Reynolds is the character of Deadpool. It’s very clear that the character means a lot to Reynolds and this translate to a pitch perfect portrayal of the Merc with the Mouth. His mannerisms and comedic timings are done to near perfection. This was made clear early in the promotional material in the lead up to the film. Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool. It’s clear that he has a lot riding on the success of Deadpool as a character but also loves the character and makes him incredibly likeable for someone who is as much a bad guy as the villain in the film. While in no way is Ajax a fleshed out character with his own set of motives and back story but the film never sets out to do this, instead choosing to focus on making him someone dislike and want to see in a final face off.
This is all part of Deadpool’s strongest aspect. It’s 1 hour and 40 minute run time. As a film, Deadpool always feels concise and never strays from its objective. It doesn’t branch off into several sub stories that may or may not be concluded in this film, nor does it try to set up not only this film, but several other films to come. Every second of the film feels relevant solely to this single movie keeping the films pace constantly moving and focused. Nothing feels wasted, unnecessary or tacked on to add extra meat to its already fleshy bones. The films small budget also contributes to this feeling by keeping the story constrained to fewer different set pieces as possible, instead focusing on squeezing as much as it can into each frame. The film knows theres a bigger world out there but chooses to remain only on its own bloodstained path. This is backed by the films non linear approach to the characters origin storytelling in the first act. Jumping between the hilarious opening action set piece and the mistakes he’s made to bring him there.
The film also has some of the most hilarious and well choreographed action I have seen recently. It does not use the dreaded shaky cam or fast cut editing of many action films of recent times, instead focusing on creativity, something that pays off massively leaving the film feeling fresh. It definitely pushes the boundaries of its 15 rating at times but not many superhero films have the ability to do that making Deadpool stand out in the sea of Marvel and DC films. It also benefits from its cast of supporting characters which compliment each other excellently. Whether its Colossus’ polar opposite attitude to Deadpool in all aspects of life, the subconscious need to seem cool to teenager Negasonic Teenage Warhead, yes she is called Negasonic Teenage Warhead and the film acknowledges the ridiculousness of this name, or the perfect chemistry between Deadpool and his elderly blind roommate Al and his best friend Weasel. Deadpool may be centre stage in this film but that stage is held by its supporting cast.
But not only is Deadpool a great action film. It is also a great romantic comedy, as crazy as that may sound. The writers chose to focus on the love story aspect of the film which is rarely a good idea. It is done in such a way however that you can see Deadpool’s motivation in wanting to get her back. Everything he does is for her and you fully understand and see why. It gives an otherwise morally vacant character purpose whilst keeping it feel sincere.
If I had any criticism of the film, it is that it is an origin story. This is however because I already know of Deadpool’s origins and therefore feel I cannot hold it against the film since most people do not. As far as superhero origins go, this is the most definitely best and by a very long stretch.
Is Deadpool a superhero movie? Is it a romantic comedy? Is it a heartfelt look into a man trying to come to terms with illness? Yes, yes and yes. Deadpool is a film that could have and should have failed in almost every aspect but instead does the opposite. I struggled very hard to truly find a flaw with this movie. It knows where its boundaries lie and never tries to be something bigger than it can. If I was to score this movie I would give it a perfect 10/10, something I don’t say about many films. In my eyes in stands amongst the small handful of films that not only do I personally love but I deem near perfect, up there with the best of the best like Fight Club, Reservoir Dogs and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. Its a film that rises above all of its expectations instead laying dead in a pool of its own limitations.