Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is a smart-mouthed mercenary. He’s diagnosed with terminal cancer and makes a last ditch effort to save his life by signing up to a shady program that claims it can fix him and give him super powers. A few betrayals later, the program surprisingly works, albeit with the side-effect of leaving Wade’s skin looking par-boiled (a condition colorfully described in various ways throughout the film). All that remains is to get revenge on those that betrayed him.
It’s a simple setup and a rather predictable plot, but this provides Deadpool with plenty of time to do what he does best: talk. In fact, there’s barely a moment when he’s not cussing his foes, yelling expletives, or quipping about his manhood. The trailers had me worried that it would be swearing for swearing’s sake, excessive just to get that restricted rating and not particularly funny. The trailers are misleading — the humor is definitely juvenile, but it’s also smart and very funny. The only other film that successfully combined a foul mouth with super heroics was Kick Ass, and Deadpool manages to match this in both the comedy and action stakes.
The problem with a lot of origin stories is that the costume doesn’t appear until late in the movie, often causing the first act to drag as the audience waits for the hero to become heroic. That is cleverly curtailed here by starting with Deadpool in full action and showing the origins in a series of flashbacks. It’s a good template that I hope more of these kinds of movies use in the future.
The script is definitely the highlight, alongside Reynolds’ delivery. The writers obviously understand the comics and the appeal of the Deadpool character. It never takes itself seriously, and all the elements that fans love are there, including the fourth-wall breaking conversations with the audience, and the acknowledgement that this is all a movie — jokes about low budgets and unavailability of other X-Men actors abound.
Reynolds is great, delivering a confident and charismatic performance. The rest of the cast, despite often struggling to get a word in between Wade’s jokes, provide good support. Of particular note are Morena Baccarin as Wade’s girlfriend Vanessa, and T.J. Miller as his friend Weasel. Tim Miller’s direction is tight: the action clear, quick and entertaining, and the editing sees the jokes hitting all of the right beats.
Deadpool is a highly entertaining film for fans of the superhero genre, and quite unlike anything else from the Marvel canon so far. With the sequel already green-lit, here’s hoping we won’t have to wait too long until we see some more.
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