MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Deadpool’ Thinks It’s Different, Is Totally Not

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Film: Deadpool
Directed by: Tim Miller
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller

It’s almost every time a comic book movie comes out that you hear “it’s like all of the other ones!” People, not just critics, decry the lack of voice and personality behind your favorite intellectual properties gracing the screen. That’s primarily why films like Guardians Of The Galaxy and Kingsman: The Secret Service rise to the top, because they break the mold a bit and deliver a “different” vision. Deadpool isn’t one of those movies. Underneath the surface-level fourth wall-breaking conceit lies a self-satisfaction that consistently gets in the way of the film saying or doing anything “different.” Just because you sport a different brand doesn’t mean you are free from being saddled by the same conventions.

Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is an ex-special forces operative taking on mercenary jobs to get by. After getting diagnosed with terminal cancer, he is approached by a mysterious corporation offering to get him better by turning him into a superhero. Little does he know that he is to become a super-slave. After escaping from the lab where he was created, Wade sets out to find the person responsible for turning him into a disfigured monster and estranging him from his fiancée, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin).

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Deadpool rests the very heavy weight of kicking off a new franchise and getting newcomers caught up on the shoulders of its humor and main star, Ryan Reynolds. Sure, Reynolds is the perfect person to play the fast-talking “merc with a mouth,” but when your concept reads like a Reddit thread of random vulgarisms, then you may turn some people off. From the get-go with the opening credits poking fun at the creative minds behind the film, you get a clear view on how the main conceit here is to poke fun at everything invading comic book cinema. That even includes multiple gags centered at poking fun at Hugh Jackman’s machismo and even referring to Reynolds’ past superhero exploits with self-deprecation laced throughout. But like any criticism pointed at things you don’t particularly agree with, saying “fuck you” and laughing isn’t the most sturdy pedestal to put yourself onto. If anything, the whole film is like the guy you know in high school who kept shoving you to laugh at his jokes without them actually being funny.

The whole “previously, on Deadpool” structure doesn’t work, either. It all starts off on a big highway shootout before doubling back and telling the story from the beginning, and then looping back to the present time. This happens so many times and in such a daft manner that you end up thinking in terms of what character hasn’t died yet and how are they going to die.

The ultraviolence Deadpool sports gets old after a while. To the film, there is no bad time to stop everything to crack a joke. Whether that’s in the middle of a car flipping in the air to question if you left your stove on or to talk about kabobs while impaling someone, it can kill whatever rush those well-placed musical cues or quick edits had drummed up.

The saving graces here are Reynolds and Baccarin, two people so well-versed in their craft that they can make the crudest thing come off loving when spoken to each other. Their relationship is the emotional core of the film and it ends up anchoring way more than it should have. Cruelty is the name of the game here and they save it from being intolerable.

Back to being saddled by a genre full of convention, though. Deadpool has lame villains (Ed Skrein is the star of the reboot of the Transporter series, if that gives you some context) and the same contrived blow-everything-up ending that so many other Marvel films have. To be conscious of such narrative gambits is fine, but to directly tell the audience that you’re not subject to those shortcomings is pure idiocy.

GRADE: C-

Sam Cohen

Sam Cohen is that guy you can't have a conversation with without bringing up Michael Mann. He is also incapable of separating himself from his teenage angst (looking at you, Yellowcard). Read on as he tries to formulate words about movies!
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