Ryan Reynolds and director Tim Miller have been promising since they got the green light on “Deadpool” that they weren’t going to make your average comic book superhero movie. Well, for better or worse, they delivered on that promise.
Generally speaking, they delivered on it for the better. “Deadpool” is in no way traditional, but it is fun, it is interesting, and it does cause one to wonder even more about what the future might hold for the cinematic X-Men. It is, at its most basic level, however, a showcase for what Miller can do as a director and the talents of Reynolds in front of the camera.
“Deadpool” opens on an incredible freeze-frame moment, with the camera slowly weaving in and out of a scene of intense action. A series of joke credits are also put up offering a generic description of the film that could fit any number of comic book efforts – a CG character, a British villain, etc. Even the visuals (which include what appears to be a Green Lantern baseball card) have a bunch of jokes.
It is a fantastic opening and soon enough we get to see its antecedent, which is heavily based off of the test footage Miller and Reynolds worked on at Blur, the footage which helped (in some way) for “Deadpool” to get the green light in the first place. On the downside, it’s also the best action sequence the movie has to offer.
Roughly half the movie is told as a series of flashbacks, and they all stem from this action sequence. Repeatedly we are at the sequence, get some flashback, go back to the action, and back to a flashback. Interesting at first, the plot device soon becomes annoying and a little tedious.
The reasons for it occurring though are clear. The film is an origin story and as we only go as far back as Wade Wilson doing some annoying of low level criminals (not his time as a soldier), there’s not much action to show in the early history. Presumably, no one wanted to make a movie where the first 45 or 50 minutes wasn’t going to feature an action sequence leading to these flashbacks. The result of the approach taken is that we are repeatedly pulled out of the moment and sent back to the expository bits.
If you have been paying attention to the advertising for “Deadpool,” you’ll have seen that a lot of talk is centered on the movie being a love story, and it is. Wade is in love with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) but when he finds out he has cancer he goes off with some shady folks who promise they can cure him, and they do, but it ruins his face and that makes him too scared to go back to Vanessa.
Here is my main problem with the movie – this is all so dumb. No, not the curing cancer and making him a mutant stuff. I’m good with the comic book bits, Wade’s meeting Ajax (Ed Skrein) and Angel Dust (Gina Carano) at the facility where he becomes a mutant and his annoying the stuffing out of them leading to the film’s main conflict. I’m not good when the movie pretends to be a real-world love story – Wade not wanting to see Vanessa because his face is badly scarred is moronic and the entire final conflict arises out of this utterly moronic decision. Sure, Wade and Vanessa have a very physical relationship (as the movie makes abundantly clear), but they love each other and Wade has no problem going to see his old pal Weasel (T.J. Miller) after the scarring, so why not Vanessa? The movie doesn’t appropriately sell the moment. It feels like something that happens because otherwise there’s no story.
And, as it happens, we’re missing a lot of the story anyway. The climax takes place on and around what looks distinctly like a helicarrier that is in the process of being built. Who is building it? Who does Ajax really work for? Why do people in this city not care that there’s a helicarrier being built in their midst? These are massive questions that the movie just doesn’t care to explore. It feels like they’re all put out there and then not answered in order to push the sequel.
Also there to push the sequel? Repeated discussion from X-Man Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) about Deadpool joining the X-Men and how Wade could be a great hero. It feels very much like a potential setup for the future, whether it’s a direct sequel or an X-Men event and rather than working, it annoys.
Reynolds though still manages to sell the entire endeavor. The jokes come fast and furious. Wade is quick with a one-liner, most of the fourth wall breaking is enjoyable, and both Baccarin and Miller are able to keep pace with Reynolds’ wit. There are some great exchanges in the movie. On the other hand, there are also a few too many winks towards Reynolds’ other, less than successful efforts at being a superhero on the big screen.
When it’s at its best, the incredibly crude humor and the action sequences combine to form an utterly top notch comic book film. When it’s not at its best, it feels not derivative as much as angry about what’s come before, angry that it didn’t get to be first. That isn’t a good place to be.
Still, “Deadpool” is clever enough and funny enough and with enough good action that I’m absolutely game to see more, that I’d love to get another entry in the franchise or see Wade Wilson mix it up with more of the regular X-Men crowd. I haven’t mentioned her yet, by Brianna Hildebrand is tons of fun as Negasonic Teenage Warhead and really needs to be in more of the movie.
Maybe that too will happen in the sequel.
photo credit: Marvel/20th Century Fox