Director: Tim Miller
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Yorick Van Wageningen, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand
Runtime: 1 hr 49 mins
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scenes and Violence)
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/DeadpoolMovie
Opening Day: 11 February 2016
Synopsis: Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.
We don’t know about you, but we are certainly getting a little burned out from the deluge of superhero/ comic-book heroes making their way to the big screen, so much so that we can’t quite say that we are looking forward to ‘Captain America: Civil War’ like we did ‘The Avengers’ four years ago. That is precisely the audience mentality that ‘Deadpool’ is counting on, positioning itself as the very antithesis of a standard-issue product from the Marvel Cinematic Universe factory line by being ultra-violent, hyper self-aware and very, very much irreverent. Yet, ironical as it may seem, this big-screen showcase of Marvel’s own anti-hero turns out to be just the right panacea for the genre fatigue we’ve been experiencing – and we’re not ashamed to say that it is probably the most fun we’ve had in such a movie in a very long time.
In case anyone is under any illusion what sort of movie this is, the faux-opening credits unfolding like a three-dimensional version of the double-page spread of a comic book should set those doubts at ease. Rather than the individual actors involved in this meta-enterprise, the credits simply list ‘God’s Perfect Idiot’, ‘A Hot Chick’, ‘A British Villain’, ‘A Moody Teen’, ‘A Gratuitous Cameo’, while identifying the writers as ‘The Real Heroes Here’ and dismissing its director as ‘An Overpaid Tool’. With such an attitude, is it any surprise that Deadpool flagrantly breaks the fourth wall and starts addressing us directly, often breaking it yet again by referring to what he had just done in what he calls ‘a fourth-wall break inside a fourth-wall break’? Is it any surprise too that Deadpool is utterly and absolutely nihilistic in nature, making no qualms about tea-bagging a villain, cutting off his own hand to free himself (it grows back, by the way) or taunting his bloodied foe crawling on the surface of an ice rink while on a resurfacer?
The actor under the red-and-black spandex is none other than Ryan Reynolds, emerging from a string of superhero flops (duly acknowledged) to deliver the performance of his career. Oh yes, Reynolds is clearly having the screen time of his life to date narrating as much as starring in this origin story, which begins near the end and follows a zig-zagging flashback structure to fill in the blanks just how his character ended up looking like ‘an avocado had sex with an older avocado’. Without going into the details, that journey from wise-cracking charismatic rogue to ‘ugly as f**k’ superhero will see the former Special Forces operative Wade Wilson find the love of his life in a similarly twisted kindred spirit named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), discover that he has late-stage cancer, and make the mistake of submitting himself to the experimentation of a sadistic scientist in the hopes of a miracle cure.
After a series of merciless tortures (think ice baths, beatings, electrocutions), Wade will indeed achieve the genetic mutation that will cure his cancer, but at the expense of a mug that now looks like ‘Freddy Krueger face-fucked a topographical map of Utah’. Swearing to make said scientist Ajax (Ed Skrein) pay for ruining his life, Wade adopts the moniker Deadpool from the name of the game that his best friend Weasel (T.J. Miller) runs at the drinking hole where the latter is bartender, and dons a red-and-black suit in turn to better mask the bloodstains as he works his way up the value chain to get to Ajax himself. By the time Wade gets to Ajax and his super-strong henchwoman, Angel Dust (Gina Carano), he will also be joined by two ‘X-Men’ allies - the metallic giant Colossus (played via motion capture by Stefan Kapicic), and a sullen teen named Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) – whom he will cheekily quip as the only ones that the film’s mid-sized budget can afford.
To be frank, aside from the opening car chase, the action is nothing to call home about, not least by Marvel standards; ditto for the middling plot, which sans the back and forth between two time frames, really is a standard revenge story. But this isn’t meant to be a film where either matters as much as the quips, asides and zingers written by ‘Zombieland’s’ Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and delivered with carefree aplomb by Reynolds. No bit of pop culture (whether Liam Neeson or ‘The Matrix’ or Sinead O’Connor) is safe from Deadpool’s sarcasm, and no talk of masturbation, defecation, or even about blind people is beneath his puerility. The language is foul and pungent, the insults fly fast and furious, and there is a conscious and consistent attempt at skewering superhero tropes and traditions – including, we might add, the very one that arguably gave Deadpool this solo outing in the first place.
To say that it doesn’t border on exhausting would be a lie, but Reynolds holds it together with gusto, verve and just the right balance of sweet and snarky. It is to Reynolds’ credit that Deadpool manages to be alternately charming and disgusting, bombastic and sincere – in particular, the chemistry between Reynolds and Baccarin provides a strong emotional anchor amidst the wanton anarchy, and we’re not just talking about the extended sex-scene montage that plays out their relationship over a year’s worth of holidays (including Chinese New Year, International Women’s Day and Thanksgiving). Besides Baccarin, Reynolds also has a great comedic sidekick in T.J. Miller as well as an equally competent foil in the unlikely Leslie Uggams, the latter playing a wizened old lady named Blind Al whose place Deadpool puts up at while waiting for the day where he will have the courage to reveal his horribly disfigured mug to Vanessa.
On his part, director Tim Miller – making his feature filmmaking debut after carving his name in the commercials and visual effects department – keeps the stylised violence profane and excessive. There are decapitations and dismemberments aplenty, with no apologies for the unrestrained splattering of blood and body parts. Still, the fact that the carnage does not become repugnant is Miller’s greatest achievement, walking his film on a fine tightrope by balancing humour, action, gore, violence and drama all at the same time. Those with delicate sensibilities can wait for their next dose of ‘Captain America’ or ‘The Avengers’; but anyone who needs a genuine breath of fresh air before the five-course comic book spread coming our way later this year will find the rude, lewd, crude ‘Deadpool’ a f**king fantastic ball of fun.
(As uncharacteristically Marvel as it gets, this rude, lewd, crude and unapologetically violent superhero movie of an anti-hero is the perfect cure for genre fatigue)