Deadpool (2016, USA, D. Tim Miller, 108 Mins)
by Robert Joseph Butler
Based upon Marvel Comics’ most popular and unconventional anti-hero, Deadpool unfolds with a lot of twisted humor, and its a clever deconstructionist superhero movie. This is team Marvels most subversive film yet, but the results are certainly hit-or-miss.
The Marvel character is very delinquent and witty with catchphrases that make Spider-Man’s wit seem subtle, who’s mutated with agility and has quick self-healing like Wolverine. The mutation he endures with a deformed face has a grotesque side effect. Deadpool is far from the silent and understated anti-hero, he’s the verbose and brash sardonic character that breaks the fourth wall. He tells his origin story as it unfolds, utilized throughout the narrative, it’s a clever and relieving way to fill in the blanks without endless exposition. The film is very aware of the superhero tropes and cliches and it attempts to subvert them.
Ryan Reynolds was born to play the role here, he’s like Monty from Waiting but with red spandex and samurai swords. The film is so self-aware that it mocks Reynolds’ previous superhero disaster Green Lantern, where it’s referenced several times. Director Tim Miller’s feature debut is gleeful, unapologetic, and recalls the snark humor of Guardians of the Galaxy.
The snark begins right away in the opening, ass credits such as Some Douche’s Film and A British Villain pop on screen as a car accident is on display in freeze frames. With this hilarious and clever opening, the film sets itself up in how unconventional and self-aware it is. Miller’s film is certainly razor-sharp in dialogue, with Wade Wilson (Reynolds), constantly commentates on the lurid world he’s captured in, and the film generates endless pop culture references that are hit-or-miss. Depending on the joke and viewer, some are hilarious, while others are irritating.
Deadpool occasionally surprises with its clever one-liners with a bizarre mix of humor and pathos. There is a scene where Wade rips on the Taken film while laying next to the woman he loves, Vanessa (Morena Barrarini), who he’s about to leave to endure his mutation treatment that cures him from his terminal cancer, Reynold’s delivery in the line is actually earnest that the joke itself becomes sincere. Every time the film uses it’s meta-movie self-awareness, another catchphrase is merged with a genuine sincerity. The result can be jarring or affecting depending on the reaction.
Deadpool certainly jolts with energy and fast pace, though the action scenes are a little choppy and jumpy; the choreography should have been more smoothly crafted. The high-energy dialogue gets a little tedious by the third act. The final confrontation with the main villain is a little bit of a letdown. What anchors the film though is Reynolds here, not to mention the steel skinned character Colossus voiced wonderfully by Stefan Kapici. Despite some of the quibbles, Deadpool offers a unique approach with some chirpy fun.