Ryan Reynolds - Wade Wilson/ Deadpool
Morena Baccarin - Vanessa Carlysle
Ed Skrein - Francis Freeman/ Ajax
T.J. Miller - Weasel
Gina Carano - Angel Dust
Brianna Hildebrand - Negasonic Teenage Warhead
Stefan Kapicic - Colossus (voice)
Leslie Uggams - Blind Al
Jed Rees - The Recruiter
Genre - Action/Adventure/Comedy/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Comic Books
Running Time - 108 Minutes
Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a sarcastic mercenary who falls in love with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). The two live a fulfilling life and become engaged, only for Wade to find out he has cancer. Realizing that he probably won’t survive the disease, Wade takes up an offer by The Recruiter (Jed Rees), who tells him of a special experiment that will cure him of cancer, plus grant him abilities he couldn’t imagine. There, Wade meets Ajax (Ed Skrein), who heads the operation. Ajax decides to torture Wade, telling him that he’s there to be his slave once he activates his mutant abilities after being injected with a serum. While the serum gives Wade lightning reflexes and the ability to regenerate cells that will cure him of anything, it also cures him of his cancer while disfiguring his body. After a battle with Ajax, Wade escapes the experiment and decides to suit up as Deadpool - an antihero whose only motivation is to find Ajax and get revenge on him for ruining his life. It only gets more personal when Ajax realizes that Wade is Deadpool and decides to kidnap Vanessa for leverage.
I’m a fan of Mr. Reynolds and it was tough to watch the guy star in bomb after bomb after bomb, even though he was usually a highlight in each of them. His A-list status was declining, especially after three failed superhero gimmicks. First was the terrible BLADE: TRINITY, which soured the BLADE franchise after two very good installments. Next was X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, which had Reynolds playing Deadpool for the first time - to disastrous results that resulted in the character getting his mouth wired shut. Obviously the nickname, “Merc With a Mouth” didn’t mean jack to the producers of that film. While decently successful at the box office, the film is seen as a critical failure. Then there was 2012’s GREEN LANTERN, a film that had a lot going for it but fell apart as it went along. Reynolds was struggling to find the right role to build himself back up, popping up in films that no one bothered to watch, or were watched [and well made] but didn’t gain enough attention to really matter in terms of mainstream.
Reynolds, however, never hid the fact that he hated how Deadpool was portrayed in X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE. Being a huge fan of the character, he wanted to redeem the character not only for himself, but for the disappointed fans. Test footage for DEADPOOL was released, which Reynolds jokes he may or may not have helped release, and it gained a lot of internet attention that led to Reynolds stepping in to help produce a faithful adaptation of the Deadpool character that would make fun of his previous film stints and the entire comic book universe through the character’s fourth wall antics and Reynolds’ humorous wit. People were excited by the trailers and really funny marketing, but expectations for the film were low due to the character’s lack of A-list status in comparison to other comic book heroes and Reynolds’ box office performances. However, the film broke a bunch of records for a R-rated film and comic book movie to everyone’s surprise, proving that DEADPOOL can work on a big screen. And much of that credit has to go to Ryan Reynolds himself.
+ Ryan Reynolds. Let’s face it - the guy was meant to play Wade Wilson. We always knew he was funny. We always knew he was a talented actor. He has the looks and charm that Hollywood loves. He just couldn’t find the right character [at least since VAN WILDER] until DEADPOOL became a reality. And Reynolds is mainly the reason why the film works as well as it does. He’s fully invested in the character, making fun of himself and his fellow comic book actors [especially Hugh Jackman] to get across that Deadpool isn’t your standard comic book character. You feel bad for him when he learns that he has cancer. You root for him when he gets the girl. You laugh with him when he’s goofing around. And you want to be him when he’s kicking ass and breaking the fourth wall. I was so happy when I learned that Reynolds was playing Deadpool all those years ago, only being angry when they wasted him in that terrible WOLVERINE movie. I’m glad he got his second chance and I’m glad he was finally able to make up for that first failure and capitalize on it to become one of the biggest comic book adaptations during its opening weekend. Reynolds seems on board with this character until he can’t do it anymore, and I’m looking forward to what else he has up his sleeve as Deadpool. The absolute highlight.
+ The rest of the cast. Reynolds wouldn’t have been able to make his character work if he didn’t have talented people to play off of. Monica Baccarin is just a delight as Vanessa, Wade’s girlfriend. She’s gorgeous, intelligent, and can give as much as take from Reynolds. Their banter and interaction are just infectious. I can totally believe that Vanessa is Deadpool’s perfect woman, thanks to Baccarin. Maybe they’ll do more with her Copycat alter-ego in a later film, but I liked her a lot here. T.J. Miller as Weasel, and Leslie Uggams as Blind Al were perfect as Deadpool’s inner circle, being sarcastic and realistic in this wacky world. Stefan Kapicic voiced Colossus, making me smile since he finally sounded Russian!! And whoever did the motion capture did a great job as well. Even better was Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Playing a typical emo teenager with a bad ass superpower, Hildebrand brought it and I want to see more of her in another X-MEN film. Nice to see a character who isn’t as popular get some shine. Ed Skrein and Gina Carano did well as Ajax and Angel Dust respectively, carrying a lot of presence that was welcomed. Along with some cool cameos, DEADPOOL rocked it in the casting department.
+ The soundtrack. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY still has the best soundtrack in any Marvel film. But DEADPOOL is a close second. First of all, hearing Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning” during the incredible opening credits made me giddy. You also have Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration” and some Wham! [especially “Careless Whisper”] playing throughout the film as well. Can’t hate on some DMX and Salt-N-Pepa either. All these songs together shouldn’t work, but it does and I enjoyed the film more because of it.
+ The fun screenplay. I thought DEADPOOL’s narrative was pretty damn great. It’s a comic book film. It’s a comedy. It’s an action film. It’s a love story. It all works better than it ought to. The fourth wall breaking aspects never feel forced, feeling true to the title character. I thought the use of flashbacks within the present was well done, and I usually have issues with that sort of thing. The love story and Wade dealing with cancer like a real person gave the film heart that I wasn’t expecting. And the jokes don’t always work, but when they do, they hit hard and will make you laugh. The shots at Hugh Jackman are all in good fun. I also loved the dialogue relating to the X-Universe and the Marvel Universe in general. Maybe the film didn’t need to be R-rated for it to work after all. But I’m glad it was because it gave the film a different feel from recent comic book movies. It’s just a fun script that takes itself serious while not doing so. That’s a tough balance to maintain, but DEADPOOL mostly does it right. One of the better origin films, in my opinion.
+ The direction. I can’t believe Tim Miller never directed a feature before. The visual presentation of DEADPOOL is just fantastic in almost every way. The stylish opening credits with the funny names for the actors and production crew is extremely memorable. The use of flashbacks mixed with the present makes the cliche origin story a lot more bearable. The kinetic energy of the action sequences matches the quirky tone of the script. The use of CGI, especially with Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, look great. The film is violent and dark at times, but still manages to be colorful and a bit cartoonish at the same time. Tim Miller was the perfect director for this project, as he understood the characters and the world they lived in. Nice to see a comic book film with a bit of an edge for a change.
- The middle portion. Some of the middle act of the film drags a bit, as Wade struggles with moving in with Blind Al in order to avoid Vanessa. It’s not the worst deal ever, but compared to the acts surrounding it, the energy is a bit different. Plus some of the jokes don’t land as well as they should. But it doesn’t ruin the film all that much. However…
- The villains. Marvel, most of the time, has an issue with its villains. If you’re lucky, you get someone like Magneto or Loki to be a threat. Or else, you can get a Yellowjacket. Unfortunately, both Ajax and Angel Dust are on the latter side of things. Both actors are great in their roles, but the characters aren’t threatening enough, nor do they have much to do. I kind of wanted to know more about them and the experiments they were conducting. Instead, they did the cliche “kidnap the girlfriend” plot that we’ve seen countless times already. I wish they had more character development in order to be on the same level as Deadpool. They just seemed “there” because the hero needed villains for the story to work. Maybe we’ll get some better villains in the sequel when Deadpool joins forces with Cable.
THE FINAL HOWL
DEADPOOL isn’t the best R-rated comic book/graphic novel adaptation out there - I think THE CROW, DREDD, WATCHMEN, and BLADE II would be tops - but it’s probably the most fun since GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. It’s just a violent, over-the-top cartoon that adapts the character in the right way for a movie audience. Juvenile and ridiculous, it’s the kind of film we could all use right now. A stellar cast, headed by Ryan Reynolds in the role he was made for, and stylish action and direction put DEADPOOL near the top of the superhero movie totem pole. It’s not perfect and I wish the villains were better, but it lives up the hype and then some. DEADPOOL is just as fulfilling as a well made chimichanga.
3.5 Howls Outta 4