Matthew Turner delivers his verdict on Marvel’s X-rated comic book movie Deadpool, starring Ryan Reynolds
As you’ve probably noticed, due to a particularly impressive marketing campaign that’s tantamount to blanket-bombing, Marvel’s latest superhero movie Deadpool hits cinemas this week.
From the Fox side of Marvel (e.g. the X-Men / Fantastic Four side) rather than the Disney / Avengers side, the film represents a significant step forward for the studio in that it’s the first X-rated (well, R-rated in the US, a 15 certificate in the UK) Marvel movie.
On the evidence here, that looks like a gamble that’s set to pay off – indeed, a sequel has already been announced – as it’s a highly entertaining, cheerfully irreverent comic-book movie that looks set to delight the legions of pre-existing Deadpool fans and convert a whole bunch of new ones into the bargain.
Playing the character for a second time after an abortive and best forgotten outing in Wolverine: Origins, Ryan Reynolds stars as red-and-black suited Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson, a heavily-armed mercenary-slash-superhero with the mutant power of a highly accelerated healing factor that makes him virtually invulnerable.
The film jumps straight into an action sequence, with Deadpool hunting down Ajax (Ed Skrein), the sinister doctor who gave him his super-powers (and cured his terminal cancer), but left him horrifically disfigured in the process.
At the same time, in-keeping with his fourth-wall-breaking comic appearances, Deadpool continually interrupts the extended, freeway-based action sequence in order to narrate his origin story, fully aware of the presence of both the camera (he wipes gum off the lens in an early scene) and the audience.
Indeed, with all the interruptions, the freeway sequence goes on so long that it attracts the attention of two X-Men (Stefan Kapicic as Colossus and Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead), who subsequently join forces with Deadpool in order to take down Ajax and his ass-kicking, super-strong henchwoman Angel Dust (Gina Carano).
Director Tim Miller gets the tone exactly right, combining strong violence, splattery gore (one freeway-based death is amusingly gloopy), lots of foul language, nudity, some eyebrow-raising sexual content (a boundary-pushing moment in a sex montage in particular) and a non-stop barrage of self-aware humour (again, in-keeping with the comics), allowing motor-mouthed Deadpool to crack wise on everything from pop culture references (Liam Neeson’s Taken franchise gets a particularly amusing kicking) to superhero movies in general and the X-Men films in particular – notably a line about having to fondle Wolverine’s balls in order to get the movie made.
Having flopped spectacularly in the Green Lantern movie (referenced in the movie, along with Wolverine: Origins), Reynolds is clearly determined to get it right this time (he’s on board as producer) and the result is a near-perfect match of actor and character that gives full reign to Reynolds’ considerable, if often under-used comic talents, to the point where you find yourself grinning like an idiot, even when the jokes themselves either fall flat (some of the insults are oddly out of date) or are actively distasteful.
That said, for all the jokes that don’t work, there are plenty that do (the opening “honest” credits sequence – “Directed by An Overpaid Tool, Produced by Asshats” etc – alone is hilarious) and the action is extremely impressive throughout, thanks to pacey direction from Miller and some top-drawer effects work.
In short, Deadpool lives up to the hype by delivering enjoyable action sequences, shot through with a piss-taking attitude that counts as a breath of fresh air in the current superhero-stuffed blockbuster landscape.
Deadpool is released in UK cinemas today (10 Feb)