Deadpool (2016) review

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8.5/10

Wade Wilson is a wisecracking jackass, but when he gets terminally ill, he takes up an offer for an experimental cure. The company performing the cure is not what is advertised and Wilson becomes a mutant hero to exact his revenge and get back with his girl.

Deadpool is the personal project of actor Ryan Reynolds. For 11 years he has tried to get a Deadpool film going, but the studios weren’t interested. In 2009 he was allowed to play Deadpool as a side role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), but the Deadpool in that movie had nothing in common with the Deadpool of the comic and so was very unsatisfying for everyone. That fiasco has now been rectified with this new variation of the comic hero.

The problem with Deadpool was always that he was an outsider in the Marvel universe. As a character, Deadpool is basically undefeatable, but he is so bent on taking his own path that he doesn’t take anything seriously. The character is more a tongue-in-cheek joke than a very serious addition to the Marvel universe and doesn’t have any important role in the multiple-year plan of the Marvel studios, so no one saw a reason to pour money into this. Eventually, it is the enthusiasm of Reynolds and the Marvel fans that caused the breakthrough to produce this movie.

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After a flashy start we dive into a flashback, and for a moment I was afraid that this would become one of those boring origin stories, while I’d rather just see Deadpool being the action hero. Thankfully, the movie doesn’t take itself so seriously and the origin history of our hero is stuffed with just as much sharp humor and surprising twists as the action itself. Deadpool is mostly fun and surprising. The action is fast, sometimes so fast that you can hardly follow what’s happening, but the movie is mostly a comedy in which the action is a terrific source of funny moments.

Even in the darkest moments, and the movie does jump a bit from one leg to the other when it comes to tone, a sudden funny remark makes everything light again. You could be irritated about the vulgar humor and that the comedy undermines all the important moments, but the character Deadpool is best served by a comical feelgood movie. The humor is the best tone for it.

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Even Deadpool himself isn’t totally clear about what kind of film this is. Sometimes he calls it a romance, sometimes a horror. He often talks to the audience. It’s even as if he has seen all the other superhero movies together with us, and he even makes jokes about his previous appearance and about this film itself. That is how self-aware and ironic this production has become. Sometimes you’re not sure whether it is Wade Wilson or Ryan Reynolds who’s talking to us. The film also feels like a personal project and that has to do with the great attention given to putting Deadpool down as a funny character. You could easily imagine Reynolds and director Tim Miller sitting around the table and brainstorming about every scene and line of dialogue. In the end, Deadpool is still a small movie with a small cast, like Ant-Man (2014) last year.

A film about a funny superhero can only be so good. It won’t win any big prices and you won’t get a deeper appreciation about life itself here. It isn’t perfect either. You can more or less pinpoint where the inspiration started to run dry. Like, there are some nice side characters, but the antagonist was uninteresting. The locations too don’t really jump out and degenerate into characterless industrial places. I’m defending here why I don’t award this movie the highest rating, because at the same time Deadpool is as good as perfect for what it wants to accomplish. Just about everything works in Deadpool. It is like you combine the origin story of V for Vendetta (2005) with the comedy of Hot Fuzz (2007), and it might be the best comedy since that one.

Deadpool is relentlessly funny and surprising. It is all a bit small in cast and locations, but you are in for a rollercoaster of great comedy and action.

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