★★★ out of ★★★★
And it's a solid movie. Deadpool is a "superhero" movie that, in its knowing asides and winks to the audience, works as so much more than that. I would describe it as a blend of three things many moviegoers love. Those things being "the raunchy R-rated comedy," "the bloody action flick," and, of course, the "Marvel superhero movie." The latter for me being a genre within a genre that I can hardly stand. That, I'm afraid, is what keeps the film from greatness.
From the opening title sequence, Deadpool has you laughing. No doubt about that. The song choice and titles themselves see to that, plus there's a genius burn of Ryan Reynolds, the hunky actor, that may be worth the price of admission alone. The essentials are that Deadpool was once a former Special Forces soldier named Wade Wilson. He works as a hired tough guy in the city's underbelly. He meets a beautiful girl, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), and falls in love, finds he has an aggressive cancer, gets in touch with a bad dude called Ajax, but really Francis (Ed Skrien), who maybe can cure him and then some, only to find himself transformed, in appearance, in a most grotesque way, then seeking revenge against the dude who did it to him. Plus, he wants his girlfriend back.
His buddy, Weasel (T.J. Miller), is in and out here and there, as the bartender of a bar so bad there is a constant daily "pool" on which bets are placed on which regular will die that day. Then, on the other hand, there's the X-Men, Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), so desperately trying to recruit him to the good side, unconvincingly so, since, well "Marvel couldn't afford any of the cool X-Men" for a Deadpool movie. We instantly know that to be a bad joke. Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead are both awesome.
There are ample clever bits like that. In fact, the movie is made of them. Nods to other Marvel movies. Pop culture references. Hard R-rated (and quite funny) dialogue. Killer soundtrack cuts. (I dare you to try and get Salt 'n' Pepa's "Shoop" out of your head in the hours following your screening.) But not enough of it, other than the soundtrack, really stayed with me, which is a shame.
You've noticed that this website is called "Speaks in Movie Lines." That's because I grew up quoting movies at random with my friends and, really, anytime they popped up, much to the chagrin of girlfriends, family, and other such people, who have no idea what I'm referencing. I so wanted Deadpool and all it's cleverness to stick. I wanted to come out quoting genius dialogue. The best of it has escaped me. All I can remember, as far as dialogue is concerned are the silly lines Reynolds delivers during the fight sequences.
But the fight sequences are so good. This is one of the cheapest movies Marvel has made at a mere $58 million. To put that into perspective, the last big Marvel film, last year's Avengers: Age of Ultron cost $280 million. Trust me, you can tell the difference. THIS movie actually looks great, as if people are actually fighting people, instead of a computer man fighting another computer man. It is coherent and exists in realistic space, instead of a hundred things happening all at the same time while people are yelling and screaming.
The action pieces are expertly choreographed, comedic in their own right. Consider the scene on the bridge, which has been featured in most of the trailers and acts as the opening/centerpiece of the picture. The wit and intelligence of the Deadpool character is matched by the rhythm of the battle. Director Tim Miller, cinematographer Ken Seng, and the special effects people at Marvel, are obviously in perfect lockstep in how the twisted mind and humor of Deadpool should be in direct influence of how shell casings fly out of his guns and how bodies slam against windshields or highway signs or pavement.
I used the word "solid" to describe Deadpool earlier. It is. It is a special effects triumph on a modest budget for a movie of its type. It features a comedic actor in Ryan Reynolds, who owns this character, not only in the sarcastic way Reynolds speaks but how he moves his head and his body to a sometimes slapstick effect. It is Deadpool's movie, and as that, it works tremendously.
But in its wish to be different, it fails. It leaves characters underdeveloped. The chemistry between Reynolds and love interest, Baccarin, is fine, but the movie hangs way too much on that line at the end for the movie's own good. It becomes predictable. Added to that, it simply becomes another superhero movie with a big ugly grey pile of rubble all over the screen by the end.
Deadpool is three movies, as I said before. It succeeds at all three, and that is its problem: it is a funny R-rated raunch fest, a perfectly bloody action movie, then it's a Marvel superhero movie. That last part is what gets me. I hope the sequels do better...or worse.
P.S. Speaking of sequels, stay through the credits. Just trust me.