Reviewer:   Jim "JR" Rutkowski
Directed by:
Tim Miller
Written by:
Screenplay by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Based on the Marvel Comics character created by Fabian Nicieza & Rob Liefeld
Ryan Reynolds, Karan Soni, Ed Skrein
Length:   106 minutes
Released:   021216
Rated R for  strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity
“...even though the film mercilessly criticizes the usual tropes of the genre, it eventually succumbs to them as well after a while."

Whatever else you might care to say about “Deadpool,” the long-speculated “X-Men” spinoff film revolving around one of the less heroic superheroes of note, the high level of snark and savagery on display, not to mention its self-aware attitude and relentless shattering of the fourth wall, all but ensure that few people will confuse it with most other superhero films of late. As someone whose general disenchantment with the genre as a whole stems in large part from their essential sameness, this decidedly different approach is certainly a change of pace and it does energize the proceedings for a short while. The problem is that even though the film mercilessly criticizes the usual tropes of the genre, it eventually succumbs to them as well after a while. What started out as an absurdist tweaking of superheroes films ends up as just another movie that climaxes with the sight of oddly be-costumed dopes pounding the crap out of each other. It is a shame because “Deadpool” has the germ of a good idea and plenty of energy but it just never manages to pull itself together into the kind of wildly subversive work that it clearly yearns to be.

Our hero, for lack of a better term, is Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a one-time Special Forces soldier who now ekes out a living slapping around low-level louses who are threatening or harassing decent people while offering up a relentless stream of sarcastic and highly profane commentary to anyone who happens to cross his path. One night, while hanging in the local tough guy bar with other tough guys acting like a tough guy (BTW—he is a tough guy), he meets Vanessa (Morena Baccaran), a local prostitute who is just as tough and sarcastic as he is, though blessedly more reserved when it comes to the constant patter, and it is love at first sight. (Cue one of the stranger courtship montages in recent memory.) Alas, just after Wade proposes marriage to Vanessa, their happiness comes to an abrupt halt when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer and given the life expectancy of a gallon of milk. Lucky for him, a mysterious recruiter (Jed Rees) comes along with a proposal that is almost too good to be true—he works for a secret government organization that has developed a formula that can cure his cancer. Hoping for a miracle but not wanting to put Vanessa through the pain of watching him waste away if it doesn’t pan out, Wade sneaks off in the middle of the night without telling her anything about what he is doing.

As it turns out, the whole thing is too good to be true because instead of a conventional medical facility, Wade winds up at some dilapidated warehouse where the sinister scientist Ajax (Ed Skrein) is attempting to create an army of super-strong slaves to be sold to the highest bidders through the somewhat dubious plan of submitting his subjects to intense torture until their dormant mutant powers are finally unlocked or they die. In Wade’s case, he not only winds up getting cured of his cancer but develops the ability to heal from any injury to the extent that he is essentially impossible to kill—the downside is that the treatment has left Wade disfigured enough to resemble a cross between an ugli fruit and the Incredible Melting Man. After escaping the clutches of Ajax and his super-strong right-hand woman, Angel Dust (Gina Carano), Wade tries to return to Vanessa but shies away at the last second for fear of how she will respond to his new look. Instead, he, with the aid of lone friend Weasel (TJ Miller) and blind roommate Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), decides to use his new powers to transform himself into Deadpool, an anti-superhero whose mission is to track down Ajax in order to force him to fix him up before adding him to the pile of corpses in his wake. Along the way, his activities attract the attention of second-tier X-Men Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), who hope to convince Wade to use his abilities for the greater good instead of simply reducing his enemies to grape jelly.

From the opening moments, which include one of the more brutally honest opening credits sequences in recent memory followed by the sight of Deadpool decimating a squad of hired killers while deploying an endless stream of profane quips, it is quickly evident that this is not your father’s superhero movie (and should not under any circumstances be the superhero movie for your younger children, no matter how much they may beg—it is rated “R” for about a billion reasons). This sequence is probably the best in the film—the action is reasonably well-staged by first-time director Tim Miller and the balance between the comedy and the carnage is far more effective than it ever was in those largely hideous “Kick-Ass.” This is all amusing enough for a little while but all the sarcasm and brutality and breaking of the fourth wall (Deadpool loves to talk directly to the audiences and saves many of his most pointed jabs for the X-Men themselves—both the actual mutants and the cinematic incarnations that apparently exist in this world as well) can’t quite distract from the fact that a.) there isn’t much of a story to be had here and b.) what little there is is on the decidedly thin side. None of the characters are especially interesting—both before and after his transformation, Wade is just a little too studied in his obnoxiousness to be entertaining—and since we don’t care that much about him as a person, it is even harder to care about whether he regains his true love or defeats his enemies. Furthermore, while the film ostensibly means to mock the clichés of the superhero genre in the nastiest ways imaginable, “Deadpool” eventually proves to be as subversive as Spenser’s Gifts in the ways that it winds up relying on those very same tropes, right down to the finale for reasons that don’t exactly make a lot of sense at second—hell, at first—glance.

However, the one element of “Deadpool” that should prove to be even more decisive to audiences than the gore and wisecracks is the performance by Ryan Reynolds in the title role, a part that he previously played in a far different conceptualization in the largely forgotten “X-Men” spinoff “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” Although he can be a good actor when forced outside of his comfort zone (as he demonstrated in the nifty thriller “Buried”), he too often coasts through his films like a exceptionally smug frat boy with a ready quip or 12 for every occasion. His performance here is definitely of the latter variety and while the character may be a better fit for his screen persona than his last stab at a superhero franchise in the infamous “The Green Lantern,” he will most likely begin to grate on the nerves of all but his most fervent fans (such people presumably exist) after a while. Since the entire film has designed as a Deadpool showcase, the other performers are left with little more than scraps that they can do little with—after a couple of early scenes suggesting that she is someone not to be trifled with, Baccarin is relegated to the Good Girlfriend role, Skein makes for one of the most colorless and ineffectual super villains that I can easily recall and Miller and Uggams are pretty much wasted throughout. As for Gina Carano as the secondary bad guy, the former MMA fighter is still an undeniably intimidating physical presence but I will simply suggest that she has not quite found her instrument as an actress as of yet.

“Deadpool” has its moments of giddy inspiration and my guess is that fans of the character may well appreciate it more, if only because of the decision to embrace its definitively hard “R” rating (and once again, I remind parents that this is not a film for younger viewers at all—you would almost be better off taking them to see “The Hateful Eight” instead) instead of watering it down into the usual PG-13 mush in the hopes of bringing in a bigger audience. In short doses, perhaps as a side character in a straightforward “X-Men” film quipping away at their oftentimes overly self-serious tone, Deadpool might have worked as a big screen hero but with nothing to offer other than snide snippiness, both he and the vehicle designed for him wear out their respective welcomes long before the end credits roll. Again, it is no “Kick-Ass”—and thank the gods for that—but it isn’t much of anything else either when all is said and done.

NOTE: That said, if you do see them film, be sure to stick around through the end titles for the post-credits bonus cookie—the joke is kind of obvious but it is still pretty funny nevertheless.

DEADPOOL  © 2016 20th Century Fox
All Rights Reserved

Review © 2016 Alternate Reality, Inc.



" ...a distractingly frenzied picture lacking true satiric aim, making the oncoming mess of ultra-violence more troubling than rousing."  (JR)


"Overall I think this movie ranks above the first X-Men film, but after numbers 2, and 3,"  (DS)

“It's clear that “Green Lantern” is a film made by committee instead of allowing the director to do his job." (JR)