Deadpool‘s road to the big screen has definitely been a turbulent one. After a dismal showing in the much-reviled X-Men Origins: Wolverine combined with a necessary R-rating for the film to be faithful to the comics, alongside director troubles and severe budget cuts, it was looking incredible unlikely that the Merc with a Mouth would ever faithfully hit the big screen, let alone being a success to boot. But all these issues aside, Deadpool has turned out to be one of the most refreshing and unique comic book films I’ve ever seen.
Deadpool follows mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) as he falls in love with stripper Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). When Wade is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he agrees to experimentation from the mysterious Brit Ajax (Ed Skrein), which turns him into a fast-witted, foul-mouthed and ultra-violet superhuman known as Deadpool. With his newfound powers and the help of X-Men Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), he must defeat Ajax, find a cure to get his roguish good looks back, and to save Vanessa the clutches of evil.
The first thing possible to say about Deadpool is its content: although it’s set in the X-Men/Fantastic Four universe, this is not your typical PG-13 family outing: this film is ultra-violent, with decapitations, severed limbs and brutal torture scenes, with plenty of strong language and nudity to boot. This is arguably what makes Deadpool so great: its loyalty to the comics is second-to-none and will have readers hooked from start to finish throughout this two-hour film.
On the note of its length, Deadpool breezes by faster than some of its ninety-minute counterparts: writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick absolutely nail the pacing, meaning the film shoots by at a hundred miles an hour, never leaving the viewer time to catch their breath after each high-octane battle or hugely offensive joke. There was never a dull or draggy moment, even during the telling of Deadpool’s origin, cleverly told through flashbacks flecked with Deadpool slaughtering thugs, and that makes it stand out from typical superhero films so much. Take The Amazing Spider-Man as an example: we don’t see Andrew Garfield in the Spidey suit for a good hour or so, which definitely made the origin drag on a bit, but for sprinkling action scenes throughout the origin, it ensures that at the points where seeing Wade outside of the suit may get stale, we never get to the point of boredom.
The next logical thing to talk about is the action scenes themselves. Although pretty few and far between due to last-minute budget cuts, when Deadpool gets his swords and guns out, it’s impossible to tear your eyes from the screen. First-time director Tim Miller handles action with such finesse, and Ryan Reynolds’ superb performance helps Deadpool remain likeable and charming even when he’s slashing off people’s heads and dropkicking them into other thugs. The action gets really violent, a lovely and refreshing departure from some of the bubble-gum action seen in other comic-book films in modern times, and the CGI remains more or less solid throughout: there were only a few moments where I could really tell what was CGI and what wasn’t. On the topic of the action, it was perhaps accentuated by the low stakes the film has. Unlike recent superhero films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier or the most recent X-Men film, Days of Future Past, the events of this film really have very little impact on the surrounding world. Quite like Ant-Man, the battles are fought for personal reasons, not necessarily for justice and righteousness, which – as with last year’s hit – is incredibly refreshing to see.
The next standout about Deadpool is definitely the superb cast. Ryan Reynolds was born to play Deadpool, and although his performance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine left a lot to be desired (through no fault of his own admittedly), he’s really rectified that mistake and hit it out of the park here. Both in and out of the red spandex, his performance as Wade Wilson is hilarious, and at times pretty touching and emotional. His chemistry with Morena Baccarin is palpable as well, but it’s perhaps the interplay between Wade and buddy Weasel (played by director T.J. Miller) that was the most outstanding. They have brilliant chemistry together, and their back-and-forth dialogue, especially when Weasel sees Wade’s burned face for the first time, is absolutely formidable. Reynolds is the front and centre of this film: he manages to riff off all the characters here, quite notably with the two X-Men – Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead – that show up, which helps introduce Deadpool to the X-Men universe in a light-hearted and fantastic way. The only complaint I really have regarding characters is that of villain Ajax: although there’s some brilliant jokes about his name (Deadpool spelling his name out with dead bodies definitely stands out), there’s not enough meat on the bone for him and his plan to be feasible enough, and with him everything seems a little shallow.
From the deliciously self-aware opening credits to the absolutely side-splitting end credits scenes that I won’t spoil, Deadpool is a tour de force, grabbing you from the start and not letting go until you’ve laughed to the point of breathlessness and witnessed some of the goriest (and best) action you have seen in comic-book films, period. After a patchy few years dabbling in and out of comic-book movies, Ryan Reynolds has finally found his calling: he was simply born to play this character, and combined with great direction, a brilliant cast and superb writing and action, helps make Deadpool one of the most refreshing, unique and entertaining comic-book films in a very long time. For everyone this is not, but if you’re looking for two hours of gory, hilarious fun, there is simply nothing I can recommend more strongly than Deadpool.