Deadpool: Film Review
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, TJ Miller, Ed Skrein, Gina Carano
Director: Tim Miller
The tone for Deadpool is set within its very opening moments.
There's no denying the Merc with a Mouth's marketing has been off the chain with self-referential frenzy feeding the fanboys' every desire and the promise from Ryan Reynolds that they would stick to the R-rated character like glue.
And in many ways, this origins tale told in a slightly different manner is really Reynolds' showcase - it starts with all guns blazing and with bullet-time action slowed to a halt while looping back and forth between timelines and stories.
Mixing vulgarity with great aplomb and some meta-laugh out loud moments, Reynolds' wise-cracking Wade Wilson is truly the antithesis of po-faced superhero films. Breaking the 4th Wall regularly (although voiceover tends to achieve that effect as well) as the origins of how the former Special Forces mercenary fell in love, got terminal cancer and was part of an experiment gone wrong are unspooled on the big screen, it's clear nothing is off-limits in this scabrous assault on Marvel, the X-Men and even the Taken franchise.
It's blessed with some clever touches; credits that mock the tropes of the genres with titles telling people it includes a British villain, God's perfect creation, mocks the director calling them an overpaid tool and even throws in a Green Lantern trading card as Angel of the Morning plays gleefully on the soundtrack.
It's a film that's clearly in love with itself (as much as the red-clad anti-hero loves himself) and there's no doubt that for large swathes of the movie, it's great fun and perfectly entertaining - if ultimately shallow - fare led mainly by a lead who's prepared to give his all for Deadpool.
But what's not as clear as Reynolds' continual cinematic gusto are the antagonists facing off against him and the overall story. (Even though the narrative is interspersed by zipping through timelines and is there primarily to serve as an intro to the character and service his ego).
Both Ed Skrein and Gina Carano (as Ajax and Angel Dust respectively) are nothing short of charisma-free zones, aimed at sucking only the air from the proceedings as they play out.
Sure, this is an origin story and is entirely Deadpool's from the beginning, but the anti-hero needs to have a credible threat, and quite frankly, this is disturbingly lacking from the film and sets a worrying precedent for any future flicks featuring the world of the wise-quipping Merc with a Mouth.
In this plethora of superhero films, there's no doubting Deadpool is a welcome breeze of foul-smelling, puerile, cinematic air and granted, comic book heroes will never look the same again thanks to the inventive touches, meta-moments and way some tropes have been smashed through.
However, if you're expecting Deadpool to cast the net wider and break out of the fanboy audience and redefine the superhero genre, it may unfortunately struggle to do so.
It's perversely faithful to its perverse source material and there's no disputing the core audience has been well-served by the film, but some may struggle to see why this Merc with a Mouth has nothing more than a cult following.