Throughout the film, Ryan Reynolds’ self-referential Merc with a Mouth makes various jabs at the character’s botched portrayal in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Fans can rest easy knowing that portrayal and this one could not be any more different, and that is meant in a good way.
In Deadpool, former special forces operative Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is getting comfortable in a new life with his love Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) when he is hit with a late stage of cancer. In an attempt to cure himself, Wade turns to mutant and weapons expert Ajax (Ed Skrein) to participate in an experiment.
While the experiment cures his disease, it leaves him with a disfigured body and accelerated healing powers. Wade manages to escape and, under the alias Deadpool, vows to hunt Ajax as revenge for ruining his life.
From the onset, the tone for the film is set. The opening title sequence replaces the names of the filmmakers with derogatory, yet insanely funny names. That sequence is a microcosm of the film itself, showing the sharp humor and effective brutality to follow. While not strong on plot, the script by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese (Zombieland, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) understands what makes this character one of the most fan-requested characters to get his own feature film.
The red-suited assassin has a joke for everything. He gleefully talks of things only his deranged mind could come up with as he sends a single bullet through the heads of three hunters. He lives in a dead-end apartment with a blind, sarcastic old woman (played to hilarious extremes by Leslie Uggams). He fears how Vanessa will react when he sees him, turning his frustrations and trust to his best friend, played by T.J. Miller.
In the supporting cast, it is Uggams and Miller who stand out the most, walking away with their absurd lines with great comic timing. That, unfortunately, leaves the other supporters wasted.
Skrein, while physical, is portraying a stock villain. His right-hand woman is even worse, as Gina Carano is there solely for her physicality and is given very little to do or say.
The characters of Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead do not play a role until the climactic showdown. And while Baccarin talks in the previews of how one of her roles is not “damsel-in-distress,” her eventual capture does not show her outside of that one role.
That being said, Baccarin does have a personality that mimics that of her lover, something more prominent in the beginning.
But, it is a Deadpool movie, and the movie is Ryan Reynolds to take. And boy, does he take it. This performance helps to overcome the flaws in other characterization because it is so gleeful, so spot-on and so perfectly outlandish. The main strength of Reynolds is his charisma and, even though his face is covered for most of the film, he leaves a lasting impression. There is so much comedic perfection with each one-liner he gives, stuff audiences will probably find themselves quoting as they exit the theater. With every jab he makes at Wolverine and Green Lantern, Reynolds washes away those images and immerses us in his finest superhero outing to date.
The film does leave holes in the development of the titular assassin, most importantly how Deadpool fits into the broader X-Men universe. His relationship with the X-Men is touched upon, but how it got started is a mystery.
The film is directed by visual effects artist Tim Miller, who shows that he can handle the technical aspects with aplomb. The action sequences, while not spectacular, are filmed in cohesive fashion. The film zips by its already short runtime of 108 minutes thanks to zippy editing from Julian Clarke. Finally, the score by Junkie XL mixes electronic elements and orchestral boom with effectiveness.
However, Miller’s lack of work as a storyteller is on display, as certain revelations and developments are rushed, leading to some confusion. But with every plot shortcoming, Reynolds hogs the camera to do what he does best.
This is the Deadpool film fans have waited for. It is a film that makes no apologies for what it is, a standard superhero flick (to a fault) with a self-aware sense of humor. It is a film that uses its R rating effectively. Finally, it is a film that shows a confident Ryan Reynolds in a performance so different from what we have seen from him. As Deadpool says, “this is a different kind of superhero film,” one that you should consider getting on board for, despite the flaws.