That’s actor Ryan Reynolds (Blade Trinity, R.I.P.D., The Proposal) as Deadpool, a man with extraordinary abilities at the door of Xavier Institute for Higher Learning.
Reynold’s long quest to get this Marvel comic character to the big screen is technically the eighth installment in the X-Men film series as Fox repackages their superhero genre with a “rude” spin similar to what Disney did in their animated genre with Lilo & Stitch in 2002.
Constant references, quips, barbs and commentary blow through the roof as filmmakers break the “plain/fourth wall” to provide some freshness in the approach, but it’s still very formulaic with repulsive, over-the-top content that never relents.
The standard elements are there and are cleverly relayed to audiences in the beginning sequences (e.g. a British villain, a CGI character and directed by an overpaid tool).
This movie depends on associations to the Marvel Universe (Marvel Studios’ and Fox’s). Deadpool would have no moral compass without Colossus who is, of course, ridiculed and demeaned for being good even though he defends Deadpool in many ways. Colossus, voiced by Stefan Kapicic (Big Miracle), is also accompanied by his trainee, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, played by newcomer Brianna Hildebrand.
The 108-minute Deadpool immediately recognizes the audience knows former Special Forces officer Wade Wilson is not a hero, but a borderline bad guy. Not quite a merciless villain like Hannibal Lecter. Just a mercenary who only takes on causes that help someone similar to his life background. Wades gives audiences some insight through narration and he gets his work assignments from a mercenary group managed by Weasel, played by TJ Miller (Big Hero 6) based in a bar (check out the names on the board in the background).
Wade meets his love interest Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin (Firefly and TV’s Gotham) there. She is willing test their love throughout life’s challenges, but Wade’s makes a key choice that takes the film into a dark route after a grim diagnosis and resulting “opportunity” from a Weapon X recruiter, played by Jed Rees. Karan Soni plays a taxi driver named Dopinder and Leslie Uggams plays Blind Al plus Stan Lee makes his usual cameo appearance.
Wade and Vanessa clearly need serious help now. They often belittled their past life traumas as a coping mechanism disguised as charm, but now Vanessa is different. “Vanessa’s already working on plans A, B, through Z. Me? I’m trying to memorize the details of her face, like it’s the first time I’m seeing it… or the last,” says Wade.
Wade unfortunately has to help himself out of a tough situation mainly due to his choices. “Don’t make the super suit green–or animated!” Wade quips before his cancer-curing transformation begins (the green quip referring to his hero character in 2011’s Green Lantern).
Enter Ajax (a.k.a. Francis), played by Ed Skrein (The Transporter Refueled), has his own very high tolerance to pain and a side kick, Angel Dust, is played by Gina Carano (Fast & Furious 6, Haywire). Skrein does a decent job, but I couldn’t help thinking that Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road) would have been better here – probably because of their physical similarities/mannerisms, but was likely passed over due to his role as Hank/Beast in the recent X-Men film installments.
As Deadpool, audiences see coloring page therapy among the constant graphic violence along with the consistent “break the plain/fourth wall” technique where he delivers key dialogue while looking directly at the audience. It’s an approach meant to gets audiences to relate to the material quicker. Didn’t work on this reviewer. See “The Big Short” for a better, but often profanity-filled use of this technique.
Reynolds’ charisma, the vinyl spandex garb (no muscle suit here), impressive abilities (last seen in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) and the long makeup sessions all pour into the purpose of Deadpool who says and does the things that most people wouldn’t. Filmmakers strive to forge an audience-character bond with this relationship. Deadpool has plenty of confidence from his abilities and behaves the same way everywhere as he ridicules everyone and everything no matter the situation.
Tim Miller (short animated film “Gopher Broke”) makes his feature film directing debut as he and his crew demonstrate impressive visual skills. Miller’s animation, opening sequence and visual effects background allowed him to create test footage with Reynolds, which was then “leaked” to the public creating an interest that moved this movie into production two years ago. Miller also worked at Blur Studios, which was involved in the early development of recent films from Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (“Zombieland”, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”) write the screenplay based on the characters written by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld. This writing group shoots for shock and edginess, but still have a formulaic plot.
The format is simple and the character base is small. Unfortunately, innovation here basically means creating new ways to view death not seen in other similar movies.
This movie’s previews also spoils many surprises and notable elements. Filmmakers also take creative license with the Marvel characters and elements (e.g. varied powers, etc.) while leaving other potential expansions open for likely future installments in this series or beyond. Even a wrecked S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier makes a sustained appearance.
Music selections are memorable with songs by Juice Newton, Salt-N-Pepa, Neil Sedaka, and Wham! plus DMX and a key sample from Michael Jackson’s classic “Beat It” puts an extra impression on audiences.
“Deadpool” appeals to the lowest denominator of life. “It’s funny, but it’s soooo gory,” one audience member said. Like choosing the sole Mountain Dew Code Red in a refrigerator full of healthy stuff, “Deadpool” will certainly give you a jolt, but not much else. Fans will appreciate the references (e.g. Bea Arthur and the “Golden Girls” TV show, a quick appearance from Bob, etc.). Only a pop culture genius can keep up with all the references, which might warrant willing audiences multiple viewings.
Decent filmmaking skills, but not recommended (* out of four stars) overall and rated R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity. A sequel is already in the works (watch the ending credits).
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler