Director: Tim Miller
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, and TJ Miller
It’s very weird that there’s this narrative in cinema that R rated comic book movies just won’t sell. They’re for kids and the times they’ve tried to go out have failed. But that is kind of a fantasy. If you really look at it, the modern comic book boon was kickstarted by an R rated comic book adaptation. Blade came out in 1997, after Batman & Robin almost killed the genre in its infancy, and just kicked the world in the nuts. Comic book movies can be like this? Not just variations on the structure of Batman 89? It can be a wild, hard edged kung fu movie with tons of violence. Without this movie, chances are we wouldn’t have gotten X-Men or Spider-Man. And Blade II came out and was another shot in the arm, completely different than the first one and furthered the differentiating styles/tones that can make up a comic book movie. Sure, Blade Trinity was a disappointment, but not the kind of massive bust like Batman & Robin. I don’t really know where this idea came from about R rated comic movies, but it wasn’t this series. Definitely wasn’t from Sin City. Maybe it was The Punisher: War Zone, but that was so small scale a disaster I can’t really see it being that much of a problem. Yet it was a dominant idea in this world. Which makes the production of Deadpool very odd. Not only is it a hard R comic book movie, but it’s also highly meta and moderately budgeted. Small budgets don’t get made anymore, let alone on something this apparently “risky”. And yet at the time of this writing, Deadpool is a record setting smash that has attracted audiences by the droves and gotten pretty respectable critical reviews. Is the idea of R rated comic book/action movies not being a worthy investment over? Or will Hollywood scoff at this and call it an oddity? Who knows. All I know is that the movie is here and is surprisingly more effective than it should really be.
Ryan Reynolds, who starred as Wade Wilson in the abortion that is X:Men Origins: Wolverine, has been trying to get this made ever since that miserable sack of shit came out. And after a leak of test footage for a prospective movie came to be, interest exploded and it was given the greenlight. Ryan Reynolds got his wish, and we’re lucky he did. Because despite the absolute shit kickery of that Wolverine movie, he is the perfect choice for Deadpool. That perfect mix of charm and snark, with the strong ability to be a motormouth. After 4 tries at the comic book thing, he’s finally gotten it right and right like very few before. He’s Downey/Stewart/Jackson level perfect. He’s so good, he honestly elevates what would be a shitty movie in lesser hands. The structure of the movie is chopped up and non linear, but it’s really hiding the basic nature of story at hand. For all the cussing and 4th wall breaking, the story is a simple origin story we’ve seen plenty of times. Luckily it’s breezed through quickly enough and with enough humor (and surprising amounts of heart) that you don’t mind. What else helps it out is that the stakes are staggeringly low key. No world domination/destruction is at play. No jerkoff is trying to sell a mech suit to bad guys for pro terror acts. The bad guy (Skrein) tortured Wade and turned him into the scarred freak he is, so Wade wants him to reverse the effects. That’s it. Very personal and allows the movie to be a bit ambling, with the requisite amounts of humor.
What’s truly surprising about this movie is that this movie contains one of the best romances in the comic book game. Baccarin is great and stands out from the pack, never allowing herself to be a victim. She has just as filthy a mouth as Wade, and just as fucked up a life as him. They are sweet together and bring the best out of each other. It’s a very adult relationship too, and you believe it which makes you really want Wade to rescue her in the end. There’s a connection there and not just the movie tell you to care despite the work being done.
The small scale nature of the movie helps it out alot, with some great jokes peppered in acknowledging the fact that it’s small scale. But it does hurt it in some sense. The action scenes that are there are good and well done, but there isn’t enough of them to really stand out. It kinda shoots it load early on. They don’t ruin the movie, but the later stuff is lesser. The visuals are a little bland too. It’s a short movie but you wish that there coulda been a little more meat on the bones, even if it’s just more action to it. Which kinda leads to the biggest problem of the movie. It’s funny, but not unbelievably so. It swings alot and misses a bunch, so while there’s laughs there’s also some dry spots. The action is good but not totally unique. I do like that the story isn’t too complicated, which is the main upside to it being cheapish (outside of a great X Men joke). Ideally with the massive success it’s seeing they will up the scale and production values a bit so we can have a finale that isn’t just in a junkyard.
This is a movie that has the potential to shake up the world of cinema. A movie like this shouldn’t exist, let alone be successful. Yet it’s gone on to set all kinds of records. It’s got an immediate greenlight for a sequel and has an X Force movie on track too. Cable is finally gonna be introduced into the cinematic landscape, and for me that is fantastic. Ryan Reynolds’ passion project has paid off big time and even if the movie isn’t Guardians of The Galaxy level perfect, it has done so much right that you can’t wait for more. Now that the origin is out of the way, it can be done with the weakest aspect of this movie (Reynolds pre powers) and just go completely bananas. This has plenty that works and the lows aren’t movie destroying. So see it and praise be the powers that be that we have a movie like this.