********* 8 out of 10 *********
Director: Tim Miller
Actors: Ryan Reynolds, Ed Skrein, Morena Baccarin
How do you take a guy wearing a red spandex costume seriously? Someone who can throw profanities along with its multiple variants with such speed that would impress QuickSilver? You are not meant to. Deadpool is the new superhero on the block who does not want to be called a hero. He’s the anti-hero if you go strictly by definition, a not-so-good guy who goes after worse guys. But what’s important for us is that he’s wickedly hilarious, totally crazy but incredibly fun, breathing freshness into the superhero genre. Tim Miller’s Deadpool is a winner all the way, not only for its boldness to display the character’s craziness in an R-rated film that is unheard of amongst superhero movies, but also for intelligently putting the lid on Deadpool’s antics whenever required so as not to disintegrate the film into a cheap slapstick spoof.
Director Tim Miller and writers Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick depart in two notable ways from the typical superhero movies. Firstly, even though it is an origins story (it ignores whatever happened to the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine), we do not begin with an introduction on Wade Wilson and who he is and how he became Deadpool. The opening shot of the movie already has Deadpool in his costume riding in the back of a cab, and we learn later that he is out to catch hold of the villain who goes by the name of Ajax who is responsible for disfiguring him. The manner in which ‘Deadpool’ came to be emerges in flashback scenes, breaking the typical linear manner in which such movies are made. The second big departure, from the bulk of movies in fact, is the breaking of the so-called ‘fourth wall’. Deadpool talks to the audience, much in the same way as he does in the comics, adding to the goofiness of his personality and making the narrative far more interesting. It’s the sort of thing done before, like in High Fidelity and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but you wouldn’t expect a superhero to talk to us, right!?
It is tough to imagine that Deadpool is Tim Miller’s debut full-length feature film. The movie has been handled in a savvy manner, knowing how much of Deadpool’s blabbering the audience will like, figuring out the extent of action to put in, and instilling a serious edge to the movie despite the non-seriousness with which Deadpool takes himself. Rather than the superhero saving the world, here the agenda is simply vengeance – a simple acceptable reason for Deadpool’s actions. The fight sequences are terrific and the choreography of the battle at the climax between Deadpool and Ajax is something special. The music by Junkie XL is terrific (he’s the guy who gave the memorable score for Mad Max: Fury Road), swinging from a romantic mood to the battlegrounds with equal gusto.
It is Ryan Reynolds’ performance though that will leave you wanting more. As Deadpool, he gets every personality trait right – the blabbering mouth, the wisecracking lines, the aggression, the touch of romance, the agility of a superhero, absolutely everything. Ryan Reynolds had been pushing for a standalone Deadpool movie for such a long time, and so kudos to him for such a terrific job. He has poured his heart and soul in this character – and what a tough ask it would have been to unlearn being the Deadpool we saw in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and turn into this cooler version we now adore. I may not be far away from the truth when I say this must be Ryan Reynolds’ greatest role ever. Making for the typical tough villain and being good at it is Ed Skrein, who has a style and attitude to his menace. T.J. Miller does a swell job as Wade Wilson’s friend, adding a bit of comedy and also a dose of sanity to the movie. Two members of the X-Men team that make an appearance are Colossus voiced by Stefan Kapičić and Negasonic Teenage Warhead played by Brianna Hildebrand, who have been very effectively fitted into Deadpool’s story, pulling him into the X-Men cinematic universe without losing the essence of this standalone film. On the other hand, the character arc of Wade Wilson’s girlfriend Vanessa should have been much better. Even though Morena Baccarin does a fairly good job of what she is asked to play, the character in itself lacks much substance and is left to be just the superhero’s girlfriend in the movie. Equally disappointing is Gina Carano’s role as Angel Dust who has minimal dialogues and throws in the expected punches and showcases a few of her MMA moves. A special mention to Karan Soni as the cab driver who becomes such an endearing character even in this briefest of roles.
The superhero genre is exploding in Hollywood and that makes it all the more difficult for one movie to stand out from the other. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy had shown in 2014 how a lighter-toned film can come to be loved by the audience who had so far been fixated with the brooding themes that Christopher Nolan had so effectively displayed. Now Deadpool takes things in a whole new direction by displaying what an R-rated movie can achieve, and the boundaries it can cross that was otherwise not possible. It asks the studios and the audience to take things a little less seriously, enjoy movies as movies, but at the same time it does not leave out the one thing we always seek – whole-hearted entertainment. Deadpool, you’re the man!