Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a former Special Forces soldier who is now a mercenary for hire. If you have a problem and aren’t real concerned with things like laws and ethics, Wade is the man that can solve your problem. While hanging out at a bar frequented by more of his kind and run by his friend Weasel (T.J. Miller) he meets Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), an escort who is as tough and foul-mouthed as Wade. They quickly begin a relationship that seems destined for marriage; however, one night Wade passes out. At the doctor the next day, he and Vanessa find out he has terminal cancer. Vanessa is hopeful there is a treatment that might save him but Wade is certain he will die and doesn’t want to put her through the trauma of watching his decline. At the bar, Wade is approached by a recruiter (Jed Rees) who claims he can cure his cancer. Initially skeptical, Wade packs up in the middle of the night and leaves for the program without telling Vanessa. There he is strapped to a gurney and rolled through a chamber of horrors. A man in a lab coat calling himself Ajax (Ed Skrein) tells Wade they will inject him with various chemicals to activate any mutant genes in his DNA. He will then be subjected to various physical tortures to activate the mutation. If he survives the treatment and his mutation activates, he will likely be cured of his cancer but will then be a slave to the project and never go home. Locked in an airtight chamber, Wade is deprived of oxygen. This activates his mutation, giving him quick healing power but scarring all the skin on his body. Wade manages to escape the chamber and fights Ajax, whose real name is Francis Freeman, who has himself gone through the treatment and does not feel pain and possesses enhanced strength. Wade is left for dead but is actually on a path of revenge. He is looking for Francis with the mission of getting him to fix his skin and he doesn’t care who he has to kill to find him. Weasel suggests a mask to cover his face while Wade comes up with a catchy name for his merc with the mouth: Deadpool.
“Deadpool” is not your usual superhero movie. Most noticeably, it’s rated R and deservedly so. The violence, language and nudity in the film are unlike anything ever seen before in this genre. The character of Deadpool is also unlike your everyday superhero. He is willing, almost eager, to kill those that fight against him. He seems to enjoy inflicting pain his enemies. Even the opening credits of the film take potshots at superhero movies. This isn’t a film for the easily offended… and I think the format could use more like “Deadpool.”
The movie moves at a brisk pace with the story told in a combination of flashbacks and present time. While the origin story is a bit slow at times the rest of the film more than makes up for it with snappy action sequences, funny lines and so many in-jokes that you probably need to see the movie more than once to catch them all. It is certainly a feast for those wanting to see the character get a bit of redemption after it was so poorly handled in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”
(which also gets skewered in the film). With its tongue firmly planted in its cheek, “Deadpool” is well aware everything we are seeing is utter ridiculous and even characters that are treated seriously are played as superhero/villain stereotypes making them easy targets for satire.
Ryan Reynolds is a perfect choice for the Merc with the Mouth. Reynolds has the smartass delivery that makes this character pop. Whether he’s making goofy sweet talk to Vanessa, bro bud talk with Weasel or tough talking Francis, Reynolds gives Wade Wilson/Deadpool the kind of nimble comedic repartee necessary for the character not to come off as trying too hard. Busting balls is second nature to the character and I believe to Reynolds as well.
Morena Baccarin is a perfect mix of sexy and tough, playing Vanessa as a woman who doesn’t need a man to protect her or complete her. In her relationship with Wade, Vanessa gives as good as she gets (sometimes literally) and is about as equal a partner as has ever been seen in a superhero movie; however, the script turns Vanessa into a hovering mother when Wade receives his diagnosis. For some reason, screenwriters Rhett Rees and Paul Wernick fall back on tried and true sexual stereotypes. Vanessa originally seems like the kind of woman who wouldn’t allow her partner to wallow in self-pity the way Wade does. She would demand Wade fight. Sadly, Rees and Wernick turn this strong, modern woman into a 1950’s housewife. Tonally it doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie.
That could also be said of the standard issue finale. I won’t give anything away but if you’ve seen one superhero film you won’t be surprised about how “Deadpool” ends. While the character does throw in a small twist it isn’t one that isn’t obviously coming from the beginning of the movie. Considering whom Vanessa is in the comics, they could have set up a mind-blowing sequel by showing us her abilities and what kind of heartache was in store for Deadpool. Perhaps that’s on the drawing board for a future film but considering everything else “Deadpool” did to separate itself from most other genre movies, a last-page-of-the-comic twist would have fanned the flames of viewers’ interest even more than the snarky post-credits scenes that may or may not tell us what’s going on in the sequel.
“Deadpool” is rated R for language throughout, graphic nudity, sexual content and strong violence. There are beheadings, dismemberments, stabbings and gory gunshot wounds galore. There is both male and female nudity and an extended sexual montage that may change the way you look at mashed potatoes forever. Foul language is common but not overwhelming.
Opening to a box office total well over projections and a fair amount of critical love, 20th Century Fox basically had no choice but to greenlight a sequel. While this film is certainly far different from any other Marvel superhero movie we’ve had since the premiere of “Iron Man” in 2008 and that uniqueness likely encouraged possibly comic-book-film-fatigued fans to turn out, “Deadpool” still couldn’t escape the predictable third act heroics of a character that boasts about how he is not a hero. Perhaps the makers of the next film will have the courage to fight studio pressure to turn the Merc with the Mouth into just another spandex-wearing goody-two-shoe. That’s the way Wade Wilson would want it.
“Deadpool” gets four stars out of five.
A film of bravery, a film of faith and a film of dark magic open this week. I’ll see and review at least one of the following:
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