Marvel’s audacious X-men/Wolverine spin-off-spin-off wants to have it’s cake and eat it: sweary, subversive and knowingly parodic, it is also puerile, violent, gory and laughs too often at its own jokes.
Which is presumably why they got puerile, self-referential Ryan Reynolds in the lead, despite his dubious track record (Blade Trinity, Green Lantern).
In a head-spinning opening twenty minutes of flashbacks and over-the-top Mission Impossible / Captain America action mayhem with added gore, the titluar Deadpool sets himself up as the wise-cracking anti-hero you’ll either love or hate after thirty seconds.
When it finally settles into a conventional origins movie, it is rather conventional fare.
Mercenary Wade Wilson finally sees a shot at redemption with the girl of his dreams, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin – Serenity) only to be diagnosed with terminal cancer. Offered a micracle cure by a shady organisation looking to recruit mutation-augmented soldiers, Wilson is tortured by British ‘Dr Death’ mutant Ajax until his own mutant super-power is triggered – regenerative healing not unlike Wolverine, but with the added side effect that his skin looks like it’s been repeatedly blow torched – allowing pretty-boy Reynolds to play ugly.
With the rest of the cast from his blind, black landlady, the local bar-keep and guest X-men Collosus and Negasonic reduced to comedy sidekicks, Reynolds does his one-note American sit-com performance inbetween CGI set-pieces. Think Kung-Fu Panda with expletives and blood.
Yes there are some witty one-liners, although the self referential House of Cards soliloquies sometime go too far; “Wow, breaking a fourth wall within a fourth wall… that’s like… sixteen walls!”
This being Disney and Marvel, with a budget the size of a developing nation (even though the movie keeps saying it’s cheap), there is a climatic finale, a showdown with the principal villain and his henchmen, gargantuan mega-sets to destroy and a predictably un-subversive happy ending. And every set-up for a running franchise for as long as Reynolds wants.
Like all superhero movies, this still has a core audience of overgrown fifteen year old comic-geek boys; not that it will stop a slightly niche franchise doing well. Deadpool is raucous, profane, violent, over-the-top – and a bit of a guilty pleasure. RC
Director: Tim Miller
Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Running time: 1hr 48mins
Genre: Action, Adventure, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Comedy
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano, Ed Skrein