|UK Release Date||10th February 2016|
|Reviewed||21st February 2016|
There’s a great episode of Family Guy (unsurprisingly a rip-off of the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror series) where Peter discovers a genie in his beer bottle and gains three wishes. After wasting his first wish, his second one is that he have his own theme tune. This music then follows him around his day to day, essentially narrating exactly what he is doing (waking up, walking etc). Peter enjoys it at first but it very quickly becomes a burden as people around him are not quite as appreciative of ‘classic travelling music’. I mention all this because I was very much put in mind of this as I was watching Deadpool.
Based on a comic I have never read, which to be fair, covers every comic ever written, Deadpool, is Marvel’s first and much trumpeted foray into the world of R rated superhero movies. Yup, inexplicably it is fine for the youngsters to watch thousands of people sent to their makers as flying lunatics wipe out building after building, but if one of them curses, whoa there! That is only for the grown-ups. Hence we have former career criminal but nice boyfriend Wade (Ryan Reynolds) transformed, via a genuinely gruelling origin story, into the titular madman. The sinister forces that promised to cure Wade’s terminal cancer turn out to be less than reliable when it comes to their word and Wade is turned into a kind of self healing prune man. Looking like he has been badly laminated, Wade is determined to get the Brit villain (Ed Skrein) Ajax back for making him entirely unfortunate to look at. Wade you see, despite being a preening sociopath, is still very much sweet on his lovely girlfriend (may have been wife, I forget if they got married or not), Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) and is a little concerned that looking like an over-bathed thumb is going to queer the pitch with her.
And so we set off with the childlike superhero as he dons the red leather, swords and guns and begins to carve a particularly crimson swathe through gun toting lowlives on his way to the purveys of his curse. Being Marvel of course guarantees two things. One; the rest of the universe will feature in some way and two; Stan Lee will have a cameo. In this case, the rest of the universe comes in the form of the X-Men Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapic) and Megasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand). Neither of which I’ve heard of but to be honest, I pretty much lost track of X-Men after a couple of movies. Apparently Deadpool was in one of them, something to do with Wolverine I think? I mention my confusion at this point because I think the more sunk you are in that universe, the more chuckles you are going to get out of this movie. Anyway, the X-Men are very much looking to ‘rescue’ Deadpool from his errant criminal ways.
How well all of this sits with you as an audience will probably depend a lot on how much you can tolerate Ryan Reynolds in top smug quipping mode. I’m perfectly happy to sit and watch it, the other half of Broken Shark is very much not a fan, as you may have noticed from the posting of a particularly negative Little White Lies review of this movie on our Facebook page. I won’t get into that but suffice to say it seems odd to berate a superhero movie for having an indestructible hero. If you are looking for anything more than wrinkly skin deep in this movie, you very much stepped into the wrong screening. If you’re looking for an hour and forty eight minutes of uber-smug wit and over the top violence, you’re far more likely to come out of this forgiving it its shortcomings.
In some senses, I find myself automatically attempting to defend this movie, it is after all the equivalent of watching Reynolds filming a selfie whilst trying out a veritable reel of largely crude humour but, there is something nicely honest about that setup. Wade’s relationship with his stripper girlfriend highlights this pretty well. The movie isn’t interested in actual relationships, Vanessa is there essentially to extend Deapool’s revenge rampage but for all that, Vanessa isn’t dropped in as a total sop. As much as she can given the ‘plot’, Baccarin manages to play Vanessa with some personality and she is never presented as a victim of her life. Wade is never attempting to rescue her from this life or her job, they are just two damaged people who find a partner in crime in each other. So when Ajax swipes the girl, you do actually root for the two-dimensional cretin she is with to rescue her.
From a performances point of view, it’s only really Reynolds who makes any odds here. Skrein is British enough to be the villain, T.J. Millar is good value in his brief time as Wade’s only real friend and the two X-Men do what they need to. There’s also an entertaining turn from MMA star Gina Carano as the force that is Angel Dust. For the rest? They are all just here as props for the Deadpool show.
So, to return to my introduction, Deadpool is very much a movie that insists on its main character having his own theme tune throughout the duration of his rampage. As a character, it’s debatable how much your interest will be kept beyond this initial instalment (the franchise being absolutely inevitable), but for this movie, I found a great deal to be entertained by here. The script is as deep as your shot glass but every bit as filthy and entertaining as it needs to be for the limited goals it sets out and first time director Tim Miller keeps the proceedings moving at a decent pace. I thoroughly enjoyed Reynolds’ one-note gag-train performance, but as noted above, this isn’t going to score with everybody.
Go into this one with the right mind and you will have a ball with the crass humour, over the top violence and endless fourth wall puncturing. Go in expecting something even remotely meaningful, sensical or lasting and you will come up disappointed. Deadpool frequently verges on outstaying it’s over-arch welcome but the script and action keep it moving just fast enough for us not to care. And don’t forget to stay for the traditional Marvel post-credits sequence. Like the rest of the movie, it makes not a jot of sense but to a certain generation, it’s hilarious.