Directed by: Tim Miller
Written by: Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (screenplay) / Rob Liefeld & Fabian Nicieza (character)
108 minutes / Rated: 15 / Marvel Enterprises, TSG Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
AEISD Contributor Jon Clarke (aka, Goatboy), does some breaking of the fourth wall himself as he gives his thoughts on the first (proper) big screen outing of Marvel’s own comic book bad boy, DEADPOOL…
“This is 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 humour, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.”
Ah yes, DEADPOOL – let’s get this straight from the outset. If you’re expecting a beautifully crafted Academy Award-winning epic then you need to stop looking at the showtimes right now. However, if you think that a 108 minute version of all of that irreverent humour and hardcore swears that you saw in the red-band trailer sounds up your street then this is very much the film for you. I’ll keep this spoiler free, as best I can, I’ll reveal no big secrets here because that would be totally wrong and you’d rightfully hunt me down to invoke nerd rage and, frankly, I don’t need that. You want to cut to the chase, the last paragraph is right where you know where to find it.
This is not a film to be precious about. ‘Proper’ film critics – those that cherish the noble art of film-making – are going to tear this movie apart for lack of story, ineffectual bad guy, excessive over-the-top explosions and vulgar language… Thankfully, I’m not burdened with being a ‘proper’ critic and, let’s be honest, why would you want to be? Over-the-top explosions and vulgar language? TAKE MY MONEY! Oh, you already did? Well, it’s a good job I enjoyed myself otherwise we’d have a problem… Now, what was I saying?
We like to be fair and balanced around here so let’s get the bad points out of the way because, oh yes, there are some – DEADPOOL isn’t a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination. The film does suffer from the worst deplorable sin of modern movies; you know that moment when your friend says, “Well. no point seeing it now, I bet all the best stuff was in the trailer”? Hmm, yeah THAT guy…! With this film, that friend of yours may just have a point.
It’s not that ALL the best stuff is in the trailers, as seen, but there is a LOT of it on display. I was hoping for a few alternative versions of gags, perhaps, as reports from the set have revealed that a lot of the saucier dialogue was ad-libbed with multiple takes but nope, what we’ve been shown is what we get. This doesn’t really detract too much but it did stick in my mind while watching so it’s a minor annoyance that took me out of the film and. (I will counter this by saying that DEADPOOL‘s Marketing Team knocked it out of the park for this film, they NAILED IT. I don’t think a film has ever been marketed so well to its target audience – and it seems to have worked. The opening night prestige-format IMAX showing I attended was almost sold out and this was with a UK audience who would probably know little or nothing about the character of Wade Wilson – fully sold on the back of the nimble and unpredictable marketing campaign.)
Another sticking point was the lack of actual story throughout but this is something that, as it happens, causes NO PROBLEM WHATSOEVER! (Yes, I’m shouting in CAPS LOCK at you, Reviewer From Respected UK Cinema Blog, YOU!). The basic narrative is simple and uncomplicated but that’s all it ever needs to be – this film is a balls-out comedy and first-time director Tim Miller doesn’t burden the film with a convoluted plot, not wanting to get mired in anything substantial, on the whole, with the audience not given any more information than is absolutely necessary. There’s also a feeling that the basis of the infamous test footage that actually got the film made in the first place forms the spine of the resulting film, so it’s interesting you get into that really early on, another clever move…
Miller does, off the back of this set-point, keep up the pace of the film admirably and the satisfying non-linear fashion that the story bounces backwards and forwards does help you get maximum satisfaction from watching the foul mouthed wonder of this red suited lunatic without having to engage the old think box too much. After the 20th Century Fox logo faded out, the credits started and so did the jokes from the outset (I was convinced that the iconic logo would be the butt of some kind of gag but it doesn’t – it’s okay, though, Fox gets theirs as the film rolls on.). It becomes clear there’s a Monty Python ‘Holy Grail’ fan somewhere behind the scenes and these aren’t real names in the credit roll… I won’t spoil it other than to say the credits set the tone of the film to come beautifully – pay attention to the still image, presented in bullet time, unfolding beneath the text on-screen.
The movie opens, surprisingly, with Ryan Reynolds as our anti-hero, fully formed and fully decked out in his trademark red spandex, riffing with the Indian driver of a taxi cab. This bold, confident move from the film-makers displays the afore-mentioned faith and generosity in its audience, diving straight into the Deadpool action and not messing around with any pre-cancery backstory distractions. This novel approach means that by the time the action freezes and we do get to some history, it’s fed as icing on the cake that the filmmakers are fully aware that you came to indulge on in the first place.
Visually, the film is what we’ve come to expect from contemporary super hero fare – it’s incredibly well shot, the action sequences and fight choreography are dynamic and the visual FX are suitably spectacular, the action is handled in a visually stylish way… but it’s all to support the joke-heavy script, with the guffaws coming early on and not letting up for a huge part of the film. For fans of the conceits of comic artist Rob Liefeld‘s creation, the ‘breaking of the fourth wall’ is taken to a whole other level. (That’s not just an expression, by the way, I’m being literal – Deadpool explains as much in the movie!) This is a film for the fans: the self-reverential jokes, the sharp one-liners, the absurd physical comedy are all here… Oh, and unicorns and chimichangas, of course. Honestly, for the dedicated, it’s got the lot.
All of this hangs, however, on the charisma of its leading man – so, what of Ryan Reynolds and his take on Mr Pool? In one word: brilliant. As he has said on numerous occasions in interviews, Deadpool is a role he feels he was born to play and I personally hope he continues to do so for as long as people want to see The Merc With The Mouth on screen. He has demonstrated that he can handle drama before (check out the excellent SELF-LESS if you haven’t already, a meaty sci-fi thriller) but here Reynolds is clearly having the most fun he’s had in years. He’s backed up by an amazing supporting cast: T.J. Miller (HBO’s SILICON VALLEY) brings a deadpan version of Wade’s shitty friend Weasel, Morena Baccarin further cements her reputation as a solid genre actor (helped, of course by the fact that she is, in this humble reviewers opinion, one of the most beautiful women alive).
Further down the credits roll, Karan Soni’s Dopinder (Deadpool’s taxi driver) is never not funny and Brianna Hildebrand shines as the dour, disinterested superhero-in-training, the wonderfully named Negasonic Teenage Warhead. On the downside, Ed Skrein is forced to give up a by-the-numbers villain – it almost wouldn’t be a comic book movie without one nowadays – but he brings all that’s required for you to root for our hero, an absolute bastard that suitably unpleasant, the grudge between him and Wade Wilson is extremely well founded.
At 108 minutes, the movie really doesn’t drag its feet at all and the runtime passes very briskly. It’s not an amazing movie in critic’s eyes I’m sure, but it is an amazingly enjoyable experience and shouldn’t that be enough really? As I looked around the cinema, there wasn’t a dry eye to be seen but not from heart-wrenched emotion or earnest introspection, this was from no-nonsense, doubled-up laughter – everyone I spoke to afterwards unabashedly loved this movie. For comic book fans, the in-jokes and the obligatory Stan Lee cameo alone are enough to make this worth watching. And when the credits roll, you’ll be treated to some silly Deadpool animations to help pass the time until pay off for all those Marvel fans who love a post credits scene comes in the form of a suitably silly stinger. There are some movies designed to be nothing more than escapist entertainment and this movie is 100% goddamned entertaining, from the moment the opening credits start to the awesome end credits stinger (which references one of my favourite comedy movies).
So, in summary (…wait, are you the one that’s scrolled down, all the way from the first paragraph, the one who couldn’t even be bothered to read my review? UGH! SO lazy, man!), I thought this film was great. Go spend some money, treat yourself to a night at the flicks, support this movie and show some love for the people that made it for YOU, the fans – I personally don’t think you’ll regret it. Let’s show Fox that we want Reynolds back in the red (not the green – never the green!) suit as soon as humanly possible.