In 1991, comic book writers Rob Liefield and Frank Nicieza introduced the world to Wade Wilson AKA Deadpool, the ‘Merc with a Mouth’. Initially a cold-blooded mercenary, the character quickly garnered a cult following as he grew to become every bit as funny and interesting as he was deadly and cut straight to the heart of the comic book industry during the 90s. Eighteen years later, Deadpool was brought to life on the silver screen in FOX’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009 and, by all accounts, was thoroughly butchered by the studio with their decision to sow his mouth shut, among other atrocities. Now, after eight long years, Deadpool is back and better than ever in his own movie, full to the brim with enough crude humour and wanton violence to fully deserve that R-Rating that the fans and actors alike so fiercely fought for.
WARNING – From this point on, there will be potential spoilers for the movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, you have been warned.
- Plot – 5/10
For such an interesting character, the plot of this movie is ironically quite simple. Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is an Ex-Special Forces operative turned mercenary. His whole world comes crashing down when he is subjected to torturous experiments by Ajax (Ed Skrein) in the hopes that his terminal cancer will be cured. The illegal experimentation leaves him with accelerated healing powers and a deeply twisted sense of humour, though not without permanently scarring his entire body. Under the alias of ‘Deadpool’, Wade uses his skills and newfound abilities, as well as the aid of some mutant allies of the X-Men, Colossus (Stephan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) to bring down the man who nearly destroyed his life.
The movie follows a simple revenge plot, not deviating from the tropes and expectations of the framework associated with the plot structure. Much of what makes Deadpool fun and different comes from the nature of its comedy and action, not the generic nature of its plot.
- Action & Effects – 7/10
The action in the film is very impressive, employing an impressive mix of fight choreography and CGI to produce a number of highly enjoyable scenes. As well as supporting the excessive gore in the movie, CGI is perhaps most notable when considering Ryan Reynolds’ full body Deadpool costume. While practical for the most part, CGI is applied to the eyes and other facial features in order to help convey emotion and expression to a character who spends the majority of the film with his face covered, and it is done superbly. In fact, this has proven to be so effective that it may well alter the way that designers approach superhero costumes in future movies. Additionally, the entirely CGI character of Colossus is an impressive feat for similar reasons. His hulking frame provides an intimidating presence, even if he does spend almost the entire movie getting his ass kicked.
While the action may be impressive, I personally feel that the scope of the action is too small. This may be due in part to the restricted, personal nature of the plot. The movie ultimately comes down to a physical contest between Deadpool, who has accelerated healing, and Ajax, who cannot feel pain. While this personal confrontation is all the plot calls for and brings the story of Deadpool’s origin full circle, I can’t help but feel that something a little more impressive than two extremely durable men trading blows could have worked just as well. Perhaps recent superhero movies such as Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: The Winter Soldier have just had such huge stakes that a small scale, personal story feels bare in comparison.
- Comedy – 9/10
By far the most enjoyable aspect of this movie is its comedy. Deadpool’s crude and meta humour is adapted beautifully, a testament to the writing team behind the film’s script who have clearly gone to painstaking lengths to ensure that the character is done justice on-screen. The comedy blends almost seamlessly with the action and consistently delivers laughs with a surprising mixture of both quality and quantity. The only issues I can see with the comedy of the film are that if one finds either toilet humour to be too crude and unfunny, or the self-referential material and meta humour too cryptic, then at least half of the jokes will either be deemed childish and unfunny or will entirely fly over their heads. Besides this, for those who appreciate and understand both aspects of the humour, the comedy is pretty much perfect in both its relation to the character’s traditional portrayal and the film’s lampooning of the superhero genre.
- Acting – 8/10
It can be argued that Deadpool may not have even happened without the input of the lead actor, Ryan Reynolds. After a reel of test footage was leaked online, Ryan Reynolds spearheaded a campaign to get the Deadpool we deserved after the travesty that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. While he also played the character there, it was a vastly inferior version to the Deadpool we see in this movie. His drive to get a solo Deadpool movie that does the character justice, as well as his enthusiasm to keep playing the character, is clearly seen in his performance and makes the movie all the more enjoyable, knowing that it was the result of a hard fought victory and a labour of love. Not only does Reynolds seem to be born for the role, but he is also the reason why the film managed to receive a hard R-Rating, allowing for the writers to produce a script that gives us an accurate representation of Deadpool. Another impressive feat of characterisation is in Stephen Kapicic’s portrayal of Colossus. Again, previous versions of the character in film have been somewhat lacklustre, but Kapicic’s performance truly encapsulates the character’s role as the ‘big brother’ of the X-Men. Other notable performances are Morena Baccarin as Vanessa and Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, giving enjoyable performances as Wade’s love interest and the moody teenage X-Man initiate.
Unfortunately, as has been the case with superhero movies for some time now, there is something of a drop in quality when it comes to the antagonists. While Ed Skrein does a good job playing Ajax, the villain himself lacks any depth or physical presence to suggest he is much of a threat. The reverse is true of Gina Carano’s portrayal of Angel Dust; while physically imposing, she barely has any characterisation beyond being Ajax’s heavy-hitting, sexy assistant with a weird thing for chewing matches.
- Overall – 8/10
In conclusion, Deadpool is a thoroughly enjoyable film whether you are a fan of the character himself, superhero films in general, or even if you’re just looking for a solid action film with an enjoyable protagonist.
Although I didn’t include it in the review of the film itself, it is also worth mentioning that the marketing for the movie has been phenomenal. Between traditional trailers, in-character teasers, holiday videos and even a PSA on testicular cancer, the marketing team have capitalised on the comedic nature of Deadpool’s character to break the fourth wall and used it to their full advantage in the run up to the film’s release. For example, below is an ‘interview’ that Deadpool himself had with Made in Hollywood, as well as the final trailer for the movie.
WARNING – The following videos may be considered NSFW