Take a Swim in the (Dead)pool

When I entered the theater to see Deadpool, I wasn’t expecting much.  Marvel’s hyperactive production of superhero movies and shows has left me jaded, and it doesn’t help that the quality of their media, in my opinion, is a handful of area codes away from “consistently good.”  Ant Man didn’t bug me, I thought Guardians of the Galaxy was out of this world, Captain America The First Avenger made me feel pretty patriotic, and I liked Jessica Jones a whole ton, but couldn’t think of a stupid pun to express my approval for it. On the other hand, both Avengers  films bored me, Thor and Thor: The Dark World were mediocre, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was fifty shades of lame, and Fantastic Four was a train wreck contained within a larger train wreck that was occurring on the deck of the Titanic.  So could Deadpool manage to faithfully capture the craziness of Marvel’s violent, insane, and fourth-wall-breaking mercenary?

The answer is not “yes.”  The answer is “oh my goodness yes, absolutely, good lord.”  Deadpool is a crude, rude, and lewd breath of fresh air in a stagnant sea of by-the-books superhero films.  It’s full to bursting with jaw-dropping action, stupendous acting, hard-hitting humor, brazen sexuality, and ludicrous gore.  It’s a fantastic film translation of one of the most bizarre comic book characters in existence, and undoubtedly worth the cost of a ticket.

The titular Deadpool, also known as Wade Wilson (played by Ryan Reynolds), is a wise-cracking mercenary with designs on marriage before late-stage cancer steps in.  The prognosis is grim, and Wilson is given the opportunity to participate in a series of shady experiments that could potentially heal what ails him.  Without going too in-depth regarding plot details, the experiments lead to Wilson mutating.  He’s capable of healing from life-threatening wounds, but he winds up a bit nutty and blanketed in scars that leave him looking like a human pizza.  Wade Wilson vows vengeance, taking the name Deadpool and donning a red suit and mask as he works through his investigative bloodbath.

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It’s a serious plot pitch, but don’t think for one moment that this is a serious movie.  The humor hits fast and hard, as Deadpool fires off references and jokes like a pop-culture-conscious gatling gun.  In once scene, for instance, Deadpool tells a group of gun-toting baddies that he wears red so that enemies can’t see him bleed, before pointing at one of his opponents and praising him for wearing brown pants.  Not much later, while being dragged off with one arm handcuffed, Deadpool turns to the camera and asks if the audience has seen 127 Hours before pulling out a knife and hacking off his own hand.

Ryan Reynolds deserve mountains of praise for his work as both Wade Wilson and Deadpool.  When the going gets tough, Reynolds has no problem sounding serious and mature.  But when Deadpool’s dropping clever little quips, Reynolds does so with a higher-pitched, childlike voice.  It’s like watching a single man constantly switch between good cop and bad cop, the catch being that both cops are on a bloody quest for vengeance, are capable of healing from mortal wounds, and break laws the way a nymphomaniac breaks chastity vows.

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But let’s talk about why this movie is rated “R.”  Deadpool is dripping with sex and gore, and characters drop f-bombs like they’re going out of style.  There’s a scene where Wade Wilson and Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), Wilson’s lover, get busy atop Thanksgiving dinner.  And for anyone wondering, yes, the mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce get involved.  But Deadpool’s crazy crudeness is one of its strengths.  After all, Deadpool’s a ridiculous character, so placing him in a normal movie wouldn’t play to the character’s strengths.  Marvel and Fox deserve praise for having the chutzpah to make Deadpool an R-rated film.  It means that a hefty portion of the audience who watched all the PG-13 Marvel films could potentially be cut off from Deadpool.  But that daring pays off.  A silly, crude, and violent character deserves a silly, crude, and blood-soaked movie.

Speaking of blood-soaked, let’s talk action.  Cars crash and flip, dudes get sliced by Deadpool’s swords, guns are fired, punches are thrown, and an above-average amount of explosions occur.  Action junkies will find a lot to love here, with tasteful usage of slow-motion and excellent directing during action sequences.  In one scene, Deadpool drops several stories into a van, beats the stuffing out of the van’s occupants, crashes it into another van, and flips it over and over while being peppered with gunfire from guys on motorcycles.  It sounds like chaos, but I never found myself confused by what I was seeing, due hugely to a multitude of wide shots and a small amount of jump cuts as Deadpool murders his fellow man in spectacular fashion.

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If there’s one criticism I would offer, it’s that Deadpool’s villains feel 2-dimensional.  Their motivations to fight Deadpool can be summed up as “we’re evil and don’t like him, or something,” and they look pretty non-descript too.  To make matters worse, Deadpool is up against Ajax, a somewhat obscure character in the Marvel lore.  Viewers who haven’t consumed Marvel media outside of their movies probably won’t know who Ajax is, and will instead think that he’s some bland dude who wears black clothes while talking smack to Wade Wilson.

That’s where the criticism ends.  Deadpool makes excellent use of its unusual protagonist, delivering a film that entertains from start to finish, and I can confidently say that it’s one of my top three Marvel films.  Folks who can’t stomach blood, guts, and swearing may have a hard time enjoying it, but those who can handle it will learn that Deadpool knows how to entertain.  Grab some friends, grab some tickets, and see this movie.  You’re in for one hell of a fun time.

Score: 9.5/10


*images from Lainey Gossip, Movie Plot, Screen Rant, and Fox Movies  Trailer from 20th Century Fox

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