Movie Review - Deadpool

This film was released theatrically before X-Men: Apocalypse, but I watched it after seeing X-Men: Apocalypse, realizing some of the jokes against the Bryan Singer-started franchise are a bit prescient. Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, this film exists solely to mock comic book adaptations. There are tons of self-referential and meta-commentary about certain failings of those adaptations, but absent the characters with super powers, this film is not that far flung from Quentin Tarantino in that this is pure, revenge porn, but instead of the N-word, this film is fueled by the no-holds-barred, toilet and sex humor that is the keystone to Ryan Reynolds' comedic chops.

Ryan Reynolds stars as Wade Wilson, a former Special Forces soldier who now works as a mercenary and lounges in a bar full of mercenaries. He's a hired gun or a hired thug. As such or either, he's had to kill people. He's subjected to torturous experiments, which scar his entire body but give him super-healing powers and seeming immortality, not unlike Wolverine from Singer's X-Men (2000).

As a matter of fact, Reynolds played in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), a film directed by Gavin Hood, where Reynolds was the exact same character but got killed by Wolverine. Here, however, Wade is given the identical power of Wolverine. Therefore, the only interesting fight would be if Wade went up against Wolverine again. Yet, here he doesn't.

Any other match-up is less than satisfying. As evidenced in that X-Men: Apocalypse, the only satisfying fight would be Wolverine or other, high-powered mutants like Jean Grey, but the adversary here is a generic and non-developed, evil guy named Ajax, played by Ed Skrein (The Transporter Refueled and Ill Manors). There is absolutely nothing to him. He's not interesting at all. Supposedly, his super power is that he feels no pain, but the implications of that aren't explored at any point in this movie.

Essentially, the villain doesn't matter. This movie is like Dexter meets John Wick, except this movie embraces the worst aspects of those two properties. It's a movie that wants us to be on the side of this guy as he basically murders people. We're meant to be okay with it because the men or in one case a woman are bad guys or worse criminals. We're also meant to empathize with Wade because he's allegedly fighting for love. We're meant to be endeared because he's so irreverent and so funny, except he's not.

Wade's comedy is Reynolds' comedy, and it feels like it comes from a very bitter place. Wade constantly states that he doesn't want to be a hero, but only because Hollywood or America at-large wouldn't let Reynolds be a hero. Aside from that 2009 film, Reynolds has played a super hero, arguably a half-dozen other times, and mostly all those times were critical and financial flops. Examples include Green Lantern (2011) and R.I.P.D. (2013).

His career has been troubled and this film feels like the sheer frustration of a failed career being verbalized and visualized onto the screen. This is Reynolds doing a big F-U to everyone and not caring. Most people it seems embrace that spirit, that lack of caring, that bad-ass nature. However, that does not a good movie make.

Morena Baccarin (Gotham and Homeland) co-stars as Vanessa, a stripper with a heart of gold, a cliché that falls in love with Wade because her naughty sense of humor matches his. She's just as dirty and game for anything, which makes her the funnest character in this piece, but she is few and far between.

The rest is just Ryan Reynolds' smugness and a bombardment of jokes that are such knowing one-liners meant to make him seem so smart and so beyond or better than everyone else, or else he's so cool. If nearly two hours of that smugness is appealing, then this will be a movie you'll enjoy. It doesn't appeal to me.

There was talk before the release of this movie of Deadpool's pan-sexuality. Those reports are highly exaggerated. This super hero film is just as homophobic as any other, unwilling to broach the topic, let alone depict it. The inclusion of the song "Careless Whisper" by Wham! with vocals by George Michael, an openly gay British singer, doesn't make up for it.

Last year, the Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was criticized for its depiction of Asians, one Asian in particular, was felt to be too much of a stereotypical joke. Here, there's an Indian cab driver named Dopinder, played by Karan Soni, known mostly for his AT&T commercials. The Indian cab driver approaches similar stereotypical territory. It might not be as offensive as some people think the Netflix series, but it also shows how less-than-clever the filmmakers here are.

One Star out of Five.
Rated R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 48 mins.


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