Film Review: Deadpool
by Polly Hember
Picture Ryan Reynolds, lashings of female nudity and witty self-reflexive quips, all sloshing about in a gory fever-dream, worthy of Quinton Tarantino’s bloodiest of nightmares. Got it? There you have Deadpool. The latest addition to the canon of superhero blockbusters, which is currently the highest grossing film of 2016 so far, the most successful 18 rated comic-book film to date, and manages to be genuinely hilarious and almost refreshing at the same time.
In the steady flow of lucrative superhero franchises and origin films, it is easy to lose interest in the formulaic plots and cookie-cutter characters. I have lost track of which Avengers film I have seen and which I haven’t, when exactly was the age of Ultron, and who the Winter Solider is. Deadpool, directed by Tim Miller and written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland), starring the hilarious Reynolds and Homeland star Morena Baccarin, is an origins film that relentlessly mocks the culture of Marvel blockbusters.
Reynolds plays a potty-mouthed Wade Wilson, a tortured mercenary who falls for witty and wild prostitute Vanessa (Baccarin). Their kinky, playful and perfect relationship is ruined after Wade’s tragic cancer diagnosis – he leaves, not wanted to subject her to the painful last few months of terminal illness, and seeks black-market treatment.
This all sounds considerably morbid and clichéd, but what actually ensues is a deluge of racy one-liners and limb-chopping, gun-shooting gore. The inevitable culmination that each superhero film builds up to where buildings come crashing down, big fights and a show-down with the ultimate baddie to save the captured damsel, is still carried out – but actually only last for twenty minutes (if that). The film is a composite of flashbacks and fragmented memories from the heydays of Wade and Vanessa’s budding relationship, and the focus is on humour and gore. The ultra-violence is shocking, and comical in its excessive gratuity and butchering. What really powers the film onwards is Reynold’s performance and stream of sardonic comments and comebacks.
Enter, Weapon X big shots Ajax and Angel Dust, who subject him to bleak torture and humiliation in order to try and trigger any latent mutant genes. They eventually activate a mutation which cures his cancer, gifts him with super-healing powers, but severely scars him – leaving him looking like “an avocado that had sex with an older avocado”. This is a classic revenge plot, with Wade following in the Phantom of the Opera’s footsteps and finding his identity in the wake of disfigurement, and gears up to defeat the baddie and get the girl back.
Relentlessly breaking the fourth wall, he often turns to the camera, mid-fight, pondering whether he left the oven on. In a flashback, he wryly remarks: “A fourth wall break inside a fourth wall break? That’s like… sixteen walls”. This is a meta-superhero film that is gloriously self-aware, and mocks itself and its creators. In the opening lines, Reynolds informs us that this is a film produced by “ass-hats” and directed by “an overpaid tool”. The humour is written into every moment – as Vanessa tenderly takes off Wade’s mask to set eyes upon his scarred face for the first time, she uncovers a paper cut-out of Hugh Jackman’s face. These are self-mocking jabs that result in hilarity, coupled with a dirty sense of humour – seconds after Jackman’s paper face flies away, she remarks “I think, after a lot of drinks, it could be a face I could sit on”.
Violent, excessive and dirty – this is a film for superhero film fans and haters. Reynold’s brilliant performance powers the film onwards with irony and ludic gore, with a gloriously funny soundtrack of 80’s tracks from Wham! and Neil Sadaka. The film takes nothing seriously, and abides by the superhero origins formula but manages to contribute a refreshing and raucous addition to the Marvel universe.
Watch the trailer here, and catch it while it's still in the cinemas!