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Deadpool is a rather simple movie, its aims are decidedly low key and its constantly wise cracking hero, make that antihero, isn’t especially complex or multi layered. It is however extremely sure of itself, right from the start it’s clear that director Tim Miller is aware of what sort of film he’s making and he doesn’t shy away from that. Because at its core Deadpool is utterly juvenile and frequently skirts the line of what can be considered good taste, but it is nevertheless a guilty pleasure that is sure to produce many laughs and grins from those able to just go along with the stupidity of it all.
What really holds Deadpool back is its rigid compliance with the traditional superhero origins story. The film covers how military man turned mercenary Wade Wilson becomes the supped up “merc with a mouth” Deadpool and his attempts at revenge on those who made him so. It’s formulaic, utterly worn out and disappointingly unadventurous, a new standard for superhero story telling Deadpool most certainly doesn’t set. The decision to tell much of the plot in flashback is also confusing, roughly half of the film is spent catching viewers up to where the film begins which begs the question, why wasn’t the film told in chronological order? Sure not doing so allows the film to open with Deadpool already established as a character but the film’s pacing is warped because of the constant cut backs to Wade’s transformation into the red spandex wearing antihero.
So while the narrative may come up short it’s the titular character himself who really saves the film. Ryan Reynolds basically is Deadpool, he inhabits the role in the same way Hugh Jackman does Wolverine, there’s a reason that while this film went through roughly ten years of development hell Reynolds has always been the man attached to wear the iconic(ish) mask. This is clearly Reynolds’ passion project and he has the screen presence of a young child in a sweet shop, committing wholeheartedly and obviously having a blast the entire time. I’d even go as far as to say that he’s managed to redeem himself for the atrocious Green Lantern, well maybe that’s going a little too far!
The script is undoubtedly childish, and very silly, with a constant barrage of dick jokes thrown at the audience from the first scene to the last. However the film isn’t without a few slightly more intelligent quips as well, the fourth wall breaking in particular is genuinely smart with several pokes at the traditional comic book movie clichés and sly nods to things like the film’s smaller than most superhero movies budget. Deadpool is not clever by any means, but it doesn’t pretend to be, instead it revels in its absurdity making references to everything from Jared the Subway guy to the fact that there’s three Taken films and whether that reflects badly on Liam Neeson’s parenting ability.
It’s a good job that Deadpool is such a strong character because the supporting cast and villains are poorly developed and often feel like mere plot devices, Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) in particular feel like they’re only present to tie the film into the X-Men cannon. Ed Skrein is on main villain duty and unfortunately his character of Ajax is simply given no motivation as to why he’s so evil, other than that he doesn’t feel pain/emotions, which makes him basically a boring blank slate and his sidekick in the form of Gina Carano’s Angel Dust is the same but even worse. T. J. Miller is the only standout in regards to secondary characters and that’s only because he’s been graced with some of the film’s best lines (though most have been spoilt by the film’s various trailers).
Deadpool may not stack up to some of the insane expectations garnered by its impressive marketing campaign but it is however a gleefully dumb watch. There’s a lingering sense that the sequel, should the film perform well enough at the box office to be granted one, will be the true Deadpool cinematic adaptation fanboys have been craving for years. There’s a strong central character here but almost everything else fails to stack up resulting in a fun but unquestionably flawed experience.