Deadpool Review: Brutal In The Best Possible Way

All decent, right-thinking people love action movies with a high body count. But few movies pack the combination of insane violence and ludicrous self-mockery that you’ll find in Deadpool, in theaters today. This is a celebration of slaughter that gets so silly, it actually feels sort of joyful. Vague spoilers ahead!

Deadpool is the long-awaited big-screen adaptation of the beloved Marvel comic book about a psychopath with a scarred face. Wade Wilson gets a very special therapy for his cancer, which activates mutant healing abilities but leaves him looking maybe unfit for polite company. So he dresses in a red suit (that looks a bit like Spider-Man and a bit like the world’s least stealthy ninja) and goes around killing everyone who gets in his way.

And because Wade Wilson is so unglued, he has a tendency to break the fourth wall and talk to the audience—and he knows he’s a fictional character. This hyper-awareness of his own fictionality makes him the perfect icon for our new age of mash-ups, remixes, fanfic and absurd crossovers, because Deadpool is already semi-detached from his own fictional milieu and can easily stomp through any situation with the same cartoony fuck-it attitude. Deadpool is hyper-aware and does not give a shit, and he cannot be permanently hurt.

The actual plot of the new Deadpool movie is more or less a conventional superhero origin story. But star Ryan Reynolds keeps the demented commentary and ridiculous gags coming, which is enough to turn pretty much everything sideways. The point of the movie is not really the plot, such as it is, but the character. His white pupil-less eyes widening and narrowing in response to the action. His constant riffing. The acrobatic leaping and spinning as he takes out everyone around him.

And really, what makes this movie so watchable and fun is the intense ultra-violence, coupled with the ever-present lampooning voiceover and wacky sight gags. Deadpool makes extensive use of slow-mo and CG-enhanced action—like, at one point, Deadpool realizes he only has twelve bullets left, so each bullet has to count, and we see the bullets fly through the air with little numbers on them. This is nothing new: Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted did similar stuff, for example with the scene where James McAvoy smacks somone with a computer keyboard, and we see teeth and letter keys floating through the air. In fact, Deadpool owes a huge debt to Wanted, which was a relatively new movie when Deadpool was first being developed. (See also: Scott Pilgrim, Sin City, etc. etc.)

The main difference is that Deadpool goes way more over-the-top with its humor, including meta jokes about the character’s terrible previous appearance in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Plus some formally inventive gags, like one weird sex-montage and a lot of Wham!. And some cute uses of old-school hip-hop.

And when we go into a slow-mo scene where all the action is paused and turned into stylized bits, it’s usually to make room for some manic jokes and riffs from Reynolds. The combination of the slowed-down graphics and stunts and the hyperactive commentary does feel pretty new, and Reynolds sells it. The overall effect is one in which the dismembering, head-splatting action is almost like a gateway to a realm where the grip of time loosens and you can live inside a moment, making as many jokes as you want before everything goes boom. By breaking the fourth wall and simultaneously creating bullet-timey death stunts, Deadpool is both the instigator of mayhem and yet also outside the action. And the whole thing just feels even more chaotic as a result.

Meanwhile, Deadpool is sort of a meta commentary on superheroes and fan culture, and on how artificial the whole business is, including the masks and costumes but also the moral code. Deadpool doesn’t wear a mask to hide his identity but just to cover up his scarred mug, and meanwhile some of the movie’s funnier moments include his collision with a couple of members of the goody-goody X-Men, the strait-laced Colossus and the grouchy Negasonic Teenage Warhead. But meanwhile, the movie also gets in a lot of digs at our relationship with pop culture in general, and all the weird stuff we take sorta-seriously.

In fact, I feel like one reason why critics have embraced Deadpool so much is because it seems to speak to our superhero fatigue. Even though this is a totally conventional superhero movie in a lot of ways, it also invites you to giggle at the total self-seriousness and wackness of the genre as a whole. And if you’re someone who feels like the ascendancy of superheroes on TV and at the movies has gotten kind of overwhelming, then it’s probably refreshing to see a film in the X-Men universe, from a major studio, that mocks that trend. (Very mildly, a teeny bit.)

Basically, they pulled it off. They put Deadpool, the most notoriously anarchic and messed-up character, on the big screen, and preserved the core of who he is. Ryan Reynolds absolutely owns the role. That said, my main feeling as I walked out of Deadpool was that I really wanted to see Deadpool 2, because this movie feels very much like a proof of concept, which earns everybody involved the right to do something more ambitious the next time around.

And meanwhile, speaking of things Reynolds totally makes work, the running flashbacks to Wade Wilson’s life before the red suit, and his relationship with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) are actually super-charming and fun, and help to balance out the ultraviolent zaniness of the present-day sequences.

That said, Deadpool’s third act falls a little flat—maybe in part because they slashed the budget at the last minute. The action is pretty amazing up until the final sequence, and then it’s just sort of fun. Also, now that we’ve seen Kick-Ass, Kingsman and some of the other movies I mentioned earlier, this movie doesn’t feel quite as revolutionary as it might have back in 2010. (And Kingsman is generally a better example of this type of movie, even if Deadpool is funnier.)

But that doesn’t change the fact that Deadpool is a super-fun movie in which extreme violence combines with extreme meta to create a kind of insanity that I’ve never quite seen on the big screen before. There’s nothing better than crazy mayhem — except, it turns out, crazy-as-fuck mayhem mixed with weird-as-hell self-referential comedy. Fuck yeah.


Comments

    Loved the movie but I didn't feel the third act dragged at all. I felt it rushed ahead and was kinetic as hell. Colossus had great chemistry with Angel Dust, Negasonic was hilariously fun to watch in her banter with Deadpool and everything moved along at a cracking pace. Plus Fox's nice subtle friendly middlefinger to the MCU (the use of the helicarrier as the battleground) was pretty cute.

    The place is stumbled was the second act, the "origin" as it were. This could easily have been 3/4, maybe even half, as long and the removal of the Weapon X program from it was entirely unneeded, it served no purpose at all removing it.

    Time exploring Wade's creation as Deadpool could have been sacrificed in favor of more scenes with Blind Al or even Weasel, strengthening those character ties which were good but nowhere near as strong as they should be.

    But Reynolds and co. should be commended for creating one of the best Superhero movies in a long time, the cure to Superhero fatigue as it were, making them ultimately fun again. With Wolverine 3 all but confirmed to be R rated, it's going to be interesting to see what Fox does, because while I'm interested in an R rated Wolverine, the R THE WOLVERINE got with its uncut version didn't stop it being subpar and average.... it needed a far better script, one done with passion and care, understanding the character at his core. That's exactly why Deadpool worked, everyone truly cared and had a living passion to make the best possible translation of the character they could, not just 'a movie'.

    Last edited 19/02/16 12:13 pm

      Totally agree with you about the second act. It just seemed like they spent too much time on the origin without really doing anything substantial with it or fleshing out his motivations. Overall though it was great.

      Oh yeah, there was a second middle finger to the MCU in the final fight scene:
      The appearance of Hydra Bob... Fox doesn't have the licence to use him so they just named him 'Bob'.

      Last edited 19/02/16 12:41 pm

        Oh yeah!!!! Forgot about that second one, that was awesome!!! Apparently he may come back for the sequel too as he didn't die :D

        Last edited 19/02/16 12:58 pm

          Oh man, the writers could have so much fun with 'knockoff Bob' so I hope he does make it into the sequel.

        Was he the guy Wade recognised? Who was he?

          Yep, that's him.
          He was/is a hapless Hydra employee who Deadpool ends up dragging along in a bunch of different storylines... Kinda Deadpool's whipping boy.

            Ah, ok. Thought he was someone specific from the other movies or something.

    It was too immature.I didn't like it. 6/17

      I gave it a 6/10 to my friends and we were talking about it the other day. I didn't expect much/anything and still found it immature and underwhelming. Here are some rottentomato one liners that nail my feelings better than I can articulate:

      - If only Deadpool were as clever, dark and funny as it believes itself to be.
      - Rarely boring, but not half as smart, funny or subversive as it clearly believes itself to be.
      - A film that makes constant jokes about cliches and that somehow is full of them
      - By the end of Deadpool I was left with the feeling that it probably was more fun to make than it is to watch.
      - It's fun for a while, and then it all becomes deeply disheartening, because calling attention to the more businesslike mechanics of superheroics isn't subversive when you're also playing right into them.

      I guess the common theme is that for a movie that prides itself on pointing out generic cliches, it falls into it's own pit. If it had more to offer then it would be fine, but with the low budget and focusing on that angle, half the jokes weren't "jokes".... it's like the first time people have seen the concept of "meta" in action.

      There was some legitimately funny stuff and some great scenes, I just didn't think it was that great overall. I'd rather watch Ironman 1 even if it is the grandfather of Marvel film blueprints.

        I laughed once during the film, and that was at the 16 walls gag. This movie was an ok base to launch the Deadpool Franchise(tm).

        I feel like Deadpool works best when he has another character to work (which will happen in the mect film if you stayed after credits).

        The sad thing is that they had the potential to really subvert the hero genre, but they played it really safe with this film.

    Why are the GIF's autoplaying now? My eyes, they are bleeding!

    Holy GIFs Batman.

    (FWIW, I thought the movie was brilliant. Overarching plot =meh, moment-to-moment action and dialogue = great)

    My only real criticism is that if I didn't already know who and what Deadpool was all about I would have been completely lost in the absurdity. Like all the humour and vulgarity would have been just way too try-hard had I no pre-understanding that 'that's the point'.
    Probably exactly what happened to people who went to see the South Park movie without ever watching the show.

      Well I can confirm my only previous interaction with Deadpool media was the X-Men movie he was in, so really nothing and I found the whole movie hilarious and I feel like I picked up the whole story without needing to think too much.

        Oh yeah it wasn't too hard to follow (my old dad would have a rough time of it though). I just think it was suitably in love with its general conceit that I otherwise would have been like 'what's the deal with xyz?'

    Holy shit that's a lot of gifs!

    I don't mind them, but please make them so they're not auto-playing, or at least if they are, a pause button of some description!!!

    I've got a rant with Deadpool's rating over here. It's R18+ in the US but over here it's MA15+. Is there reason why its different? Was there possible censoring? Does our classification board just see it differently?

      There's no MA rating in the US...their R is our MA

      R17 in the US (and for their systems that 1 year makes a lot of difference)

      America's R is our MA.
      The US equivalent to R is NC17.

    I was going to see it, looked like it was going to deliver, but I guess the 'did I leave the stove on' 'joke' in the TV spot put me off. That crap is never funny, not sure what the hell that's doing in there.
    This review and comments have fully erased my medium weight plans to see it.

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