Movie Review: Deadpool (2016)
In this fifth installment of the blockbuster franchise, Dirty Harry has become something of a celebrity. Unfortunately, fame comes with a cost. Harry Callahan has made a list known as the Dead Pool where people bet on what at risk celebrities - actors who take drugs for example - will kick the bucket first. It seems a killer is on Harry's trail... Whoops, wrong Deadpool! Boy is my face red!
Yeah, you can get the basic plot synopsis on IMDB or any other site, but I've got a word quota, people! Wade Wilson was a wise-cracking merc who - after meeting the love of his life - was diagnosed with cancer all over his everything. Not wanting to leave his fiancee with a hole in her life, Wilson agrees to experimental testing which does in fact cure his cancer, but leaves him horribly disfigured. Abandoning his love, Wilson becomes Deadpool - a violent red suit-wearing merc, out for revenge on the man who turned him into a monster. Meanwhile, two X-men are on the hunt for him because think his healing factor would be an asset to the team.
Deadpool is the type of movie that lays its cards on the table in the first few seconds with a series of hilarious gag credits. For the unenlightened, in the comics, Deadpool is not only a fast talking smart aleck, but for him, the fourth wall does not exist. He knows he's a character, he talks to the audience, he breaks the rules of his universe all the time. The movie follows suit. Deadpool not only talks to the audience, but makes frequent wisecracks about the films production ("Why are there no other characters? Could the studio not afford them?") He makes a ton of meta-references to other films such as Reynolds's past performance as the Green Lantern.
(On that note, I think that Green Lantern movie has gotten kind of a bum wrap. Yeah, it felt like diet Marvel and they set up a lot of things that never paid off because they thought they'd have a sequel that never materialized, but for a straight action movie that was entertaining, it got the job done.)
Comedy can be subjective. Gene Siskel had a great quote about comedy - "You can't argue me into laughing and I can't argue you out of laughing." However, for my money, I laughed at Deadpool and I laughed loud. His rapid-fire, smart alecky delivery make Deadpool come off like if Bugs Bunny or Groucho Marx were foul-mouthed, violent murderers. Did every joke work? Not really, but for every joke he made that clanged, there were five others that had me laughing out loud. But that didn't stop the people in the audience from chiming in and thinking they can be funny too. Yeah, people, the jokes have been made. You're not gonna top what Deadpool says! Sorry, rant over!
The supporting cast has a few misses but is overall good too. The main love interest is Vanessa, a merc with a tortured backstory who is as weird and has an offbeat sense of humor and love of weird holiday sex like Wade. In any other movie, Vanessa may have felt like male fantasizing - in fact, the movie even kind of admits this. However, she fits in the world this movie creates. More importantly, it is refreshing to see a love interest with a personality. She's not just some ideal perfect woman to please the SJW's of the world (if you don't know what an SJW is, trust me, you're better off) and her personality isn't just described us like Supergirl. We actually see her doing things, and it makes sense that Wade would care about her so much, instead of just feeling like a prize for him.
The two X-men are fun. Deadpool is being chased by Colossus, a gentle giant, who is so kindly that he politely alerts a female villain when her bosoms come out of her top. His partner is Negasonic Teenage Warhead is terse teenager with a goth side. Even if this is Deadpool's movie, it is enjoyable that the supporting cast have funny personalities that play off of Deadpool's. If there is a weak link, it would be the villains. By now, I've gotten used to the villains being the weak link in Marvel movies, but with the way this film broke ground and made the rest of the supporting cast funny, I thought maybe they'd step up with the villain too. To be fair, the villain makes sense as a humorless, sneering jerk to the wacky Deadpool. The running joke is that he has the feminine name Francis but wants to be known as Ajax. Alex does not find jokes about men having girls' names funny.
Even on its own terms as a superhero movie, Deadpool brings some refreshing changes to the genre. For starters, instead of telling an A to B adventure with his origin, Deadpool begins with the hero in action and shows how he became this way through flashbacks. I derided Man of Steel for doing this, but Deadpool shows how this sort of storytelling can be done right.
The movie also has a unique approach to how Deadpool pieces together his identity. So many superhero movies show their title characters diving into their new identities and having their outfits, but Deadpool shows him piecing together his costume and why he made the design choices he did (Yeah, Daredevil and even Mystery have shown characters have shown characters picking other costumes before settling on the chief design, but Deadpool's approach feels fresh). Also, unlike most other Marvel movies, this never felt like a two-hour trailer for another movie.
The movie has an R-rating, and trust me it's deserved. Think of something that would get a movie an R-rating, and this movie pulls it: Violence? Oh yeah, plenty of that. No-no words? Yeah, there's language you're not gonna hear on the Disney Channel here. Sex? Yup, plenty of sex. People have been quick to point out that this is NOT the first R-rated superhero movie. And they are right - Blade and The Crow were released first, but they were released at a time when people weren't afraid of R-rated blockbusters. After a decade of PG-13 Die Hard, Robocop and Terminator films, an R-rated blockbuster is kind of a big deal.
Now's the part of the review where I discuss the flaws of the movie. With a plot that includes cancer and torture, it should be no surprise that Deadpool has a few serious moments. The problem is these scenes don't gel with the slapstick moments. Here you have a movie that feels like an R-rated Freakzazoid movie directed by the guys who made Crank that is often interrupted by serious scenes about Wade's disease. For what it's worth, these scenes are done well. There are scenes where Deadpool wants to confront Vanessa and faces the judgmental eyes of everyone on the street. The scene works because of the lack of dialogue, just letting the scene speak for itself. I guess if they gotta have these serious moments, it's best to at least do them right.
And that's Deadpool for ya. I normally include some summary where I give an abridged version of my review, but I've met my word quota. I could always include soundbites that sound good in trailers, but the trailers are already out, friends.
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