You can probably count the number of R rated superhero movies on one hand. Films like Blade, Punisher: War Zone, Watchmen and...well, that's it actually and that is sort of the point. Even rarer is the good R rated superhero movie which Blade and arguably Watchmen can both be considered but even more elusive is a great R rated superhero movie...until now. Ryan Reynolds had campaigned for nearly a full decade to get a Deadpool movie off the ground and after a lame cameo appearance in the equally lame Wolverine Origins flick he has finally delivered what can only be described as one giant middle finger to the rest of the chicken s**t asshats that run Hollywood who were too afraid to make a superhero movie for adults. Read the full review after the break.
Review Vital Stats:
Projector Type: 2D Digital
Film Rating: R
Film Runtime: 1 hr 40 min
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: February 12, 2016
Loves: How hard Ryan Reynolds worked to make this movie the right way
Likes: Superhero movies, Ryan Reynolds, self aware comedy (done right)
Neutral: The generic revenge story, the whole flashback structure
What other superheroes need the R rating treatment?: Wolverine and Batman along with a number of comics that have yet to be made into movies.
|Deadpool is the first superhero to rely on cab service to get around.|
Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) isn't your typical superhero. That's because he is neither super or a hero...at least not at first. He is a lowlife former merc whose main source of income is protecting tweens from their pizza boy stalkers, but he is very good at it. So good in fact that after he learns that his body is the world's largest cancer petri dish he is approached by a mysterious man to join an underground movement that helps individuals discover their mutant gene and activate it. He does this of course in hopes that it will cure his cancer so that he can return to his ex-escort fiance Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) whom believes that Wade is actually dead. As expected things go awry and this super cure Wade seeks turns into a super nightmare that leaves him horribly disfigured but with some super side effects that allows him to regenerate damaged tissue ostensibly making him immortal.
Deadpool is not a very original movie even by superhero standards. It is about a guy who gets the short end of the stick and seeks revenge against those who wronged him all the while trying to save the woman he loves. We have have seen this story told time and time again and to see it used to tell yet another superhero origin story is almost enough to cause someone who is actually a fan of those types of movies cry fowl and swear them off for the rest of eternity. Well luckily the story is the only part of Deadpool that feels as recycled as yesterdays garbage because everything else holding it together is quite possibly the biggest game changing piece of cinema this side of The Matrix.
|This is one of the more surprisingly effective love stories in any superhero movie.|
The journey to get to this point wasn't easy though as both the film's star Ryan Reynolds and its director Tim Miller have held their ground relentlessly against an established studio system that says comic book movies are only for kids and families. Their time was well spent however as the end product not only justifies their stubborn attempts but can also be seen as an important step in evolving the long stagnant state of the superhero genre. While things like The Avengers and X-Men are fun and all it has been a long time coming that our superhero movies showed just how big their balls really are and Deadpool is the cinematic equivalent of a full on teabag in the mouths of every Hollywood stooge in the business. Let's dissect the film a bit to find out where this revolution truly comes from.
First of all there is that R rating, something that often times gets a bad rap only because most filmmakers tend to unceremoniously throw in gratuitous bad language, nudity or violence simply for the sake of doing it. With exceptions like the first Kick-Ass movie rarely do any of those factors benefit the actual story being told but in the case of Deadpool each of those serves an important purpose beyond just shock value. A big part of the character Deadpool is his incessant need to talk crap as evidenced by his reluctance to call the film's main villain Ajax (Ed Skrein) by his comic book name (probably the best running joke in the whole film) but also by his extreme potty mouth. The importance of anyone spouting out a string of curse words is debatable but in the case of Deadpool they are a tool to relay to the audience just how much fun this psychotic is having whilst filling bad guys with lead or severing limbs (his own included).
|Deadpool finds it strange that he keeps coming across the same two X-Men.|
Then there is the nudity which in this case is more sexual content than just a pair of boobs being flashed on screen. Once again the sex is used to help illustrate the deep connection between Wade and Vanessa resulting in one of the most successful film romances in a long time (releasing the film on Valentine's Day was more than just a marketing gimmick). Their special ways of celebrating each holiday not only demonstrates their sexual chemistry but their playfulness which unlike many sexually themed films actually gives context to Wade's struggle to rekindle his relationship once he goes full on avocado later. Lastly there is the violence which honestly isn't as blatant as one would expect. There are a couple moments here and there where the film goes a bit excessive but the shock of those rare instances is mostly due to how unexpected they are due how little blood and guts we actually see.
Next is the casting and yes, any film generally lives or dies by the casting but unlike most films the casting in superhero movies seems to be even more important. Imagine if we actually got Tom Cruise instead of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, something that almost really happened? That is a more than perfect analogy because not since Downey put on his iron suit has an actor embodied their alter ego as seamlessly as Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool. Just like Chris Evans who battled his way through multiple superhero/comic book movies before landing the role he was born to play as Captain America, Ryan Reynolds had been through the ringer more than once while awaiting his moment to put on that red and black suit and anyone will tell you after seeing Deadpool that the wait and all the suffering to get here was more than worth it.
|Unlike a lot of superheores, Wade has a real reason to wear a mask.|
Lastly there is the tone, something that many seem to take for granted (just take a look at last years Fantastic Four reboot to see how a film's tone can negatively effect it). This of course is taking everything into consideration, the potty mouth, sex, violence, casting and more importantly the humor, it all needs to be balanced in a way that is both consistent and makes sense. With a character like Deadpool that tone could have easily been taken too far and been turned into a parody or not far enough and been too serious. However both Reynolds and Miller seem to understand Deadpool in a way not unlike Downey and Jon Faverau knew Iron Man where they hit the nail on the head at nearly every point especially in the realm of self awareness, something very difficult to get right.
Deadpool is a self aware character who often breaks the fourth wall and that could have been a recipe for total failure if used incorrectly but the film plays on that trait with the greatest of ease. Most of this is accomplished through Reynold's trademark deadpan comedic delivery with such lines as, "Ever seen 127 Hours? Spoiler Alert!" when he is about to perform surgery on himself or, "Hashtag drive-by" as he farts while walking by. That sense of self awareness goes beyond just Deadpool though with other characters like when Weasel (TJ Miller) remarks, "Guy came in here looking for you. Real grim reaper-looking type. I don't know? Might further the plot". That they got the tone right isn't so much a monumental feat though as just how they got it right for the entire duration of the film which brings us to my final point. Deadpool is just a dam good time at the movies.
|Deadpool's artwork is not exactly his best attribute.|
Most straight up comedies don't stick as many landings as Deadpool does with their punchlines. While the film isn't a laugh-a-minute sort of affair it often throws out a series of jokes in rapid succession creating this sort of intense sensory overload in our brains. These aren't just verbal jokes though, most of the time it is a mixture of visual, verbal and circumstantial. Take for instance the scene where Deadpool is stopped by Colussus and his assistant Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand). While he is going on and on about how big a boy scout Colussus is and totally geeking out about Warhead's ridiculous name there is the completely random moment where he grabs a hubcap off the ground and throws it at the head of the bad guy he has pinned to a wall...just because. The whole film is structured like this complex ballet of visual and verbal gags that most won't give a second thought to simply because of how effortless the execution is and it is that expert craftsmanship that helps make Deadpool more than just the sum of its parts.
If there were one area that the film seemed to falter a little bit other than the generic revenge plot it would have to be the narrative structure used. The film has maybe two real action scenes, the scene on the freeway and the one at the shipyard. Perhaps they figured it would seem like they had more action than they actually did if they broke up the first scene with a number of flashbacks that consisted of the more general origin story elements, but whatever the reason it sometimes felt a little obvious that they were trying to get as much bang out of that single buck as they could. That first action scene literally spans the entire first half of the film which is just kind of astounding considering if it was all spliced together chronologically it wouldn't last more than a few minutes at best.
|Some of the best jokes are delivered while actually talking to the audience.|
The thing that makes up for it, as with any other problems with the film is that self awareness. It may seem a like a bit of a cheat to knowingly use one of the oldest and most overused story telling devices in film history and get away with it simply by making fun of the fact that you are doing it (there is literally a moment when Deadpool says at the end of all the flashbacks, "OK, now that we are all caught up..." but when any film works this tiressly to keep you in a constant state of hysterics then it is difficult to hold any of that against it. Any film that has enough of a sense of humor about itself to label the producers as "Asshats" and its star as "God's Perfect Idiot" is a success because, as if you couldn't tell already, the film and its creators simply just didn't give a f**k what anyone thought and you sort of have to respect that.
Deadpool isn't the greatest superhero movie ever made, but it easily the most fun out of the bunch. As amazing as other superhero movies like The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are, they aren't the types of movies one can watch over and over again. Deadpool on the other hand is one of those rare films that may actually get better with repeat viewings as you catch jokes you missed before or find new meaning behind moments you already found hilarious only to have them become even funnier than before. No one will remember Deadpool for its story but everyone will remember how it effortlessly made them lose their s**t for ninety minutes of pure comedic nirvana.