Worth A Look: 41.03%
Pretty Bad: 20.51%
Total Crap: 2.56%
4 reviews, 15 user ratings
by Brett Gallman
Had â€śDeadpoolâ€ť been released ten years ago, this review would likely have been an unqualified rave.At that time, I would have fallen somewhere in its target audience of teen-to-twentysomething dudes who needed nothing more than to have his comic book obsession validated by ultraviolence, sex, and swearing. â€śBut mom, theyâ€™re called graphic novels,â€ť I might have said, oblivious to how silly that sounded. A decade later, â€śDeadpoolâ€ť arrives with that same petulant whine, only I now can see how silly it all is. And, to be fair, the film itself does as well, which is why it has my begrudging, qualified respectâ€”even if I find it hard to rave about something that has all the wit of a teenager doing R-rated MST3K-style riffs on comic book movies.
"It's not like any other superhero movie--until it is."
But for about thirty minutes or so, â€śDeadpoolâ€ť is legitimately refreshing in its aim to upend genre conventions, or at least paint over them with gore, boobs, and juvenile humor. While only about half of the latter ever sticks, there are some cheap thrills to be mined from watching Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) â€“the Marvel Universeâ€™s â€śmerc-with-a-mouthâ€ťâ€”gleefully, violently dispatch a group of thugs. Heads are separated from their bodies, and bullets fly through skulls with an almost balletic grace during the clever opening sequence, where Deadpool winks through the fourth wall to announce that this wonâ€™t be your typical superhero movie. Most superheroes donâ€™t turn their enemies into a â€śfucking kabob,â€ť after all.
It makes for a nice mission statement, to be sure, and the opening salvo is wildly convincing: there really hasnâ€™t been a superhero movie quite like this, particularly in the post-Marvel Studios landscape (only â€śPunisher: War Zoneâ€ť even comes close, though that is hardly any kind of kin to a four-color property like Deadpool). The opening scene of â€śScreamâ€ť is perhaps comparable in its surprising takedown of genre expectations, though that film benefitted from a sense of surprise that â€śDeadpoolâ€ť canâ€™t, especially since the opener here actually debuted online two years as part of a pitch reel, an already storied part of this filmâ€™s lore. Given the meta nature of â€śDeadpool,â€ť it seems fitting that even the film itself has something of an origin story.
Eventually, however, the high wears off somewhere around the time Deadpool starts to bring the audience up to speed with a series of flashbacks. As it turns out, he wasnâ€™t always a superhuman killing machine; rather, Wade Wilson is just sort of an asshole, a former special ops soldier who somehow becomes a merc-with-a-heart-of-gold. Instead of killing people for money, he only takes more honorable odd jobs, like beating the shit out of unsuspecting pizza delivery boys who stalk girls. When he meets his soulmate Vanessa (Morena Baccarin)â€”a hooker-with-a-heart-of gold, naturallyâ€”life is pretty good, at least until Wade meets a bigger asshole in the form of late-stage, terminal cancer.
His only hope is to undergo an experimental treatment that will unlock his mutant genes; unbeknownst to him, the procedure is part of a program designed to create slave super soldiers, and the process involves prolonged torture at the hands of Francis Freeman (Ed Skrein), a mad scientist filling out the generic, white British villain quotient. While the opening credits have some fun with the fill-in-the-blanks nature of the plot, Iâ€™m not so sure the rest of the film skewers itself enough, as it lapses into a fairly standard revenge tale, albeit with the occasional smart-ass annotations from Deadpool himself. Once the film establishes its split structure, which alternates between the culmination of Wilsonâ€™s revenge quest and the flashbacks informing it, the latter becomes something of a drag.
If the frenetic, blood-and-sex-and-guts action sequences are like a high-speed joyride with your buddy, then the flashbacks are pit-stop bummer sessions where you listen to your friend cry into his Big Gulp about his girl. â€śDeadpoolâ€ť postures an awful lot with its glib, self-aware front, yet, like the most postured of teenage boys, it succumbs to a self-seriousness that just looks silly. How seriously can I take you when youâ€™re also cracking dumb jokes and tittering about boobs all the time?
To its credit, â€śDeadpoolâ€ť seems to be vaguely aware of this, which perhaps explains why the serious stuff is kept to a relative minimum. What it doesnâ€™t seem to be at all aware of is its tendency to slip right into the genre itâ€™s supposedly undermining. As the film wears on, it becomes an increasingly generic exercise in superhero filmmaking, right down to the extended X-Universe cameos from Colossus (Stefan KapiÄŤiÄ‡) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand). These two show up apropos of nothing, vaguely guided by the thin pretense of luring Deadpool to the side of nobility by joining the X-Men, the long setup to an obvious punchline at the filmâ€™s climax. Their presence during the filmâ€™s final standoff only reinforces that â€śDeadpoolâ€ť is more or less up to the same thing as most comic book movies, as it culminates with heroes wading through a sea of (mostly) faceless henchmen (near a helicarrier that comes crashing to the ground, no less).
Admittedly, even this familiarity isnâ€™t without its moments: Tim Miller stages the action rather spectacularly, and even taps into something most of the proper X-Men films have missed out on by having the three heroes genuinely team-up with their combined powers. A couple of humorous gagsâ€”like Deadpool spelling out his nemesisâ€™s name with dead bodiesâ€”also spruce up the proceedings just enough to separate itself from other, more conventional superhero offerings.
What these embellishments donâ€™t do is give the impression that â€śDeadpoolâ€ť has completely skewered the comic book movie in any meaningful way. Donâ€™t get me wrong: Iâ€™m not sure you can completely call the film old hat or anything, but you could reasonably say that itâ€™s an old hat thatâ€™s been scrawled upon with magic markers. To continue the comparison to â€śScream,â€ť it, too, falls prey to the clichĂ©s itâ€™s been ribbing, but it doesnâ€™t exactly do so with the same grace as Wes Cravenâ€™s seminal film. Where that film was a â€śthis is how itâ€™s doneâ€ť kick-in-the-pants to a tired genre, â€śDeadpoolâ€ť is a playful nudge that capitulates without adding much to the conversation besides a bunch of dick jokes.
Far be it from me to really shun it for that, of course. Maybe â€śDeadpoolâ€ť doesnâ€™t have the same affect that it would a decade ago, but I can still appreciate a good dirty joke (or two-dozen, in this case). They donâ€™t all land in â€śDeadpool,â€ť but you appreciate Reynoldâ€™s infectious attempt to just fucking go for it here. Like a gambler playing with house money, Reynolds never seems to forget that Fox finally indulged his decade-old passion project, and his gusto keeps the film afloat. His jokes and one-liners furiously spew with the reckless abandon of someone who thinks this might be his only shot at this. Thereâ€™s an appreciable urgency that sweeps you away, even when all (or maybe even most) of the jokes donâ€™t land. Watching Reynolds bounce vulgar, improvised riffs off of T.J. Miller is the sort of unexpected pleasure not found in most super hero movies, and the film really sings here.
That Reynoldsâ€™s comedic talents make him a fine fit for Wade Wilson is hardly surprising; however, his perpetually conscience-ridden face (not to mention an inner-sweetness he can never seem to shake in any role) tethers the film in just enough sincerity. â€śDeadpoolâ€ť faces a tricky proposition in its ironic, too-cool-for-school posturing: pushing it too far might come off as abrasive (if not insufferable), but Reynolds constantly toes the line between pure sociopath and well-meaning psychopath rather delicately. This is not the easiest character to translate to the screen: Wade Wilson gives a fuck about nothing and everything all at once, and itâ€™s a testament to Reynolds that you can believe in a character talking out of both sides of his mouth. One minute, Deadpool is encouraging a cab-driver to kill a romantic rival; the next, heâ€™s sincerely pining over his own kidnapped girlfriend.
Baccarin also deserves credit for bringing the filmâ€™s central relationship to life when the script affords her the opportunity, which unfortunately isnâ€™t much once it sets its mind to sidelining her as a damsel in distress. Before that point, though, Wade and Vanessaâ€™s courtship takes on the tenor of an especially warped screwball comedy, complete with rapid-fire, back-and-forth banter that sees the two trading inappropriate barbs about child molestation and gangbangs. Itâ€™s such a shame that â€śDeadpoolâ€ť eventually has to strip away the effectiveness of this off-beat but quite genuine relationship in order to fulfill the duties of a stock revenge tale. Marketing canâ€™t be held against a movie, but itâ€™s kind of telling that Baccarinâ€™s insistence about not being a damsel-in-distress from the trailers is missing in the final product.
For better and for worse, this is the title characterâ€™s movie; ultimately, even his X-companions function more like accessories than actual characters, existing mostly to play off of Deadpoolâ€™s devil-may-care attitude as his relatively straight-laced counterparts. You sense thereâ€™s perhaps some potential in a New Mutants spin-off lurking somewhere in here, but the film actually isnâ€™t all that preoccupied with world-building for much of its running time (in fact, one of the filmâ€™s better winks is Deadpoolâ€™s comment that itâ€™s almost like Fox couldnâ€™t afford more X-Men). As such, this is a film that really thrives whenever itâ€™s appealing to that reptilianâ€”if not juvenileâ€”part of the brain that raves rambunctious, violent action montages and amusing sex sequences.
Whenever the film spins its wheels doing just about anything besides this, it succumbs to one of the more obvious superhero clichĂ©s: a tedious origin story you wish would fall by the wayside so the fun can really begin. Maybe that will happen in the sequel, which is obviously teased with a post-credits sequence here, even after the film almost dares to leave its audience hanging with no tease at allâ€”which truly would have been the Deadpool way, of course.But since this is a quote-unquote subversive film that exists mostly to pander, it eventually gives in and reassures you that Deadpool is more or less a product of the same sausage factory as its contemporaries. Itâ€™s here you realize youâ€™ve been watching a kid draw a bunch of dicks in the margins of his textbook when you wish heâ€™d just rip out the pages.
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originally posted: 02/14/16 17:12:32