FILM REVIEW: Deadpool


Deadpool is a character that has been infamously ill-served by his previous onscreen incarnation during the disaster movie that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It's been a real fight to get him back in to the cinema and it's testament to the tenacity of the film-makers, star Ryan Reynolds (seizing his second Wade Wilson-based chance with aplomb) and the fans who loudly clamoured for the film to be made after test footage was "leaked." 

To try and describe the plot, even in summary, in a linear fashion defeats the purpose of the film somewhat, throwing you into the action almost immediately and allowing Deadpool to take over and tell you his story. Suffice to say, there's an origins story in there, a brief history of where Wade Wilson came from, how he got his skills and how he came to be the sort-of-hero-but-not-really Deadpool.

There's a curious tension at the heart of the film as Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick wrestle with the need to present a fairly standard origin story and to reflect the nature of Deadpool's metafictional existence within the comics. This is, after all, the character who decided to kill off the entire Marvel universe and then their fictional ancestors. Fortunately, Reese and Wernick find creative ways to combine the two, poking fun at just about everything and referencing everything else. The opening credits are the most inventive use I've seen of a movie standard for some time, encapsulating that central conflict between tradition and chaos instantly and setting the audience up for the kind of clever yet puerile humour the film thrives on.

What is clear immediately is how much fun Ryan Reynolds is having, getting to wisecrack, kick butt and generally make a nuisance of himself all the way through the film. As capable as he is at the comedic side of things, it's underpinned at all times by a sincerity that is needed to make the character work, something that could've fallen by the wayside in someone else's hands. The film needs the emotional beats of Wade Wilson to land alongside the one liners of Deadpool. Reynolds makes both look easy. I imagine it probably also helped to take a dig at his other, less successful comic book projects.

He's aided at all times by a supporting cast all in excellent form. Morena Baccarin sparks well with Reynolds as his love interest, Vanessa, capable of going toe-to-toe at all times with the charisma of her co-star. The X-Men he deals with, Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic, who is adorable) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (a hilariously sullen Brianna Hildebrand) both provide excellent comic relief as well as acting as the representation of the wider X-universe. Gina Carano proves, once again, someone needs to give that woman an action franchise. The weak spot is probably Ed Skrein's villain, Ajax, feeling a bit like a budget Nicholas Hoult in his English-accented swaggering, but when Deadpool is both hero and anti-, it's not surprising that Ajax is a little two-dimensional.

Where the film really excels is in its glorious black humour, layered on thick at all times. Reese, Wernick, Reynolds and director Tim Miller utilise pretty much everything in the comic arsenal, from silly physical comedy, creative swearing to referential wisecracks and back again. It won't be for the faint of heart, but there's a little bit of everything in there, including Monty Python references (which, no, I wasn't expecting). There's also a solid appreciation of the audience in the jokes as well; whether you found the characters through comics or movies, there are nods there to cater for you. Some are more blatant than others but knowing there will be things you missed for laughing too hard guarantees it's a film requiring multiple viewings. Even the soundtrack is a joy.

If anything, and this is a small niggle, it could have gone further into the anarchic freedom that its comic-based counterpart enjoys. For the uninitiated audience, I understand why the origin story hallmarks have to be in place and the film manages to achieve the balance between familiarity and tearing up the rule book for the most part. Yet there are moments that are crying out to be undercut by a bit of fourth wall breaking or some ironic narration as the film strays too far into adhering the conventions its attempting to skewer. The middle section, Deadpool's origin, in particular suffers for this, slowing down the film's breakneck pace just enough to feel a little rougher than the rest of the film's central oxymoron of controlled chaos.

Currently smashing box office records all over the place and proving superhero fatigue is on the side of mythical, Deadpool manages to not only be the film we were expecting it to be (no mean feat in today's safety first blockbuster climate) but also leave fans hungry for more. 

- Becky

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