Film Review: Deadpool (★★★★)

deadpool_ver6Pure and insane cinematic joy. If I had to distill my thoughts on Deadpool down to one short sentence, that would be it. Operating on a very specific wavelength, this is not just the most meta superhero film to date, it’s also one of the best. Now, if you’re not on that wavelength, I can see the movie being rough, but it just hit me in a perfect spot. An absurdly, and downright absurd, mix, this comic book flick is like an unexpected bolt in the dark. I was expecting to like it, but not to out-and-out love it. A combination of Kick-Ass, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Zombieland, and the rantings of an insane asylum patient, I can’t believe that a major studio allowed this to see the light of day. A hard R rated deconstruction of the type of blockbusters they hang their hat on, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

Deadpool is kind of a miracle, when you think about it. Even at a press screening full of jaded colleagues, this played almost like a religious experience. Director Tim Miller, star Ryan Reynolds, as well as writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick deserve a ton of credit for cracking this character. It’s hard to make as gonzo a property as this into anything that’s not a complete mess, and somehow they managed to draw an ace with their take. Not only my favorite film of 2016 so far by a wide margin, as well as one of the best comic book property adaptations that I’ve seen in some time, it might very well be one of the top superhero movies ever. If nothing else, it’s the best Marvel property to date. Deadpool is just outstanding, from the opening credits that are unlike any that have come before it, to the clever end credits scene. You won’t know what hit you.

There’s very little plot to speak of here, and what there is mostly functions as an origin story. More often than not though, it’s just one excuse after another for awesome carnage, comedy, and just random delights. Essentially, we’re introduced to mercenary Wade Wilson (Reynolds) and shown him before, during, and after his transformation into the mutant Deadpool. Always with a mouth during his normal human days, he’s just as big a smart-ass after being put through the Weapon X program, just now basically immortal and slightly insane. He still spends time with his friend/bartender Weasel (T.J. Miller), still takes the piss out of everything, and still has a comment for everyone. Now, he just can immediately heal wounds and murder in a whole new way. We learn why he subjected himself to the mutation, with that being the desire to not succumb to terminal cancer and leave his fiancee and former prostitute Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) with a broken heart. From there, it’s mostly a revenge tale, as Mr. Pool seeks to kill the mutant doctor Ajax (Ed Skrein) that turned him and save Vanessa from his clutches. That’s not the majority of the film though. Mostly, it’s Deadpool/Wade turning to the camera and going off on any number of hilarious tangents. No complaints there, but if there’s one thing you could ding the flick for, it’s having the skeleton of a very standard superhero origin story. On the other hand though, it’s the first of its ilk to give Stan Lee an actually funny cameo, so that helps to balance it out in some small way.

deadpool-movie-image-760x428I’ve long said that Ryan Reynolds was better suited for comedy than as an action hero, but Deadpool represents a chance for him to be aces at both. Reynolds is more than acceptable in the fight sequences, both CGI aided and non, but it’s when he’s pre transformation Wade as well as when it’s Deadpool going off on comic riffs that you really appreciate the actor. This is the funniest performance I’ve seen from him to date, and frankly the funniest performance by an actor in a good while. Reynolds is the acting MVP here, even when not being funny. His romantic/sexually charged scenes with Morena Baccarin are top-notch too. The film has a secret heart to it when getting into the Wade/Vanessa romance, albeit one highly concerned with alternative sex acts as well. Reynolds and Baccarin have great chemistry together, highlighting the talent for witty banter that both possess. If Baccarin is slightly underserved in the third act, she’s really allowed to shine early on. T.J. Miller is mostly comic relief as the required buddy character, but his humor fits in perfectly, so it’s a welcome site when he shows up. Ed Skrein isn’t anything to go nuts over as the villain, but he’s still better than Marvel tends to put out there. Also in the cast we have Gina Carano as another baddie named Angel Dust, Brianna Hildebrand as pubescent X-Men Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Stefan Kapicic as the voice of X-Men goodie goodie Colossus, and Leslie Uggams as Wade’s blind roommate, aptly named Blind Al, among others. Everyone is effective in their roles, but Reynolds walks away with the film.

In some ways, this is the first superhero movie to really highlight the writing more than the directing. That’s not to say that Tim Miller isn’t a sure handed filmmaker, since he is, but this really is an opportunity for scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to shine. Miller allows the insanity put forward by Reese and Wernick to take center stage, alongside Reynolds’ work. As a director, Miller has Deadpool move at a terrific pace, look the part of a flick twice its price, and suggests a future for the long time effects guy if he wants it behind the camera. Reese and Wernick already had shown a ton of promise with the aforementioned Zombieland, and this is that sort of tone on steroids, along with a heaping dose of Viagra. Again, it won’t be for everyone, but it worked for me in a massive way.

Overall, I found Deadpool to be an absolute riot. This would be a film I’d rave about no matter when it was released, but considering that we’re still in early February and the best we can normally hope for is an above average romantic comedy on Valentine’s Day, this is worth an extra bit of enthusiasm. If you love comic book movies and offbeat humor in general, this should be for you. Even if you don’t and you’re tired of superheroes, this is the genre reset you may have been secretly hoping for. Any way that you slice it though, Deadpool is an absolute must see. You can thank me later.

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!