by Chris O’Neal
Directed by Tim Miller
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, T.J. Miller,
Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano
Rated R for strong violence throughout,
graphic nudity and sexual content.
1 hr. 48 min.
In the pantheon of comic book heroes the average man on the street can name, Deadpool ain’t one of ’em. Deadpool is and has been the comic book fan’s inside joke, the character that, when referred to in the presence of the right crowd, illicits more than a few quirky quips, a reference to a chimichanga and maybe a finger-gun accompanied with a loud “Bang!” To others, a puzzled expression followed by, “Who?”
Thanks to the sudden and massive popularity of the Deadpool film, however, one can expect more Deadpool-esque one-liners to pop out of the mouths of comicbook newbies as well.
That’s because the film, starring desperately-wants-to-make-a-successful-comic-book-adaptation Ryan Reynolds, is a huge success, raking in $135 million over the weekend, the highest gross for an R-rated film, well, ever. Deadpool is as clever as the beloved character is odd, smarter than it deserves to be and, frankly, might be the best film in its genre in recent memory.
Ryan Reynolds is Wade Wilson, a former special ops soldier with 41 confirmed kills under his belt. Living a life post-military, Wilson is a much-sought-after mercenary who meets a woman and falls in love. We learn through a year’s worth of explicit (for a film based on a Marvel comic) sex scenes that Wilson is absolutely committed.
Until Wilson is diagnosed with cancer and his world falls apart. In desperation, he joins a group that claims to turn regular humans into super heroes and learns the hard way that if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Head scientist Ajax (played by Ed Skrein) turns out to be a thug looking to make mutant slaves with super powers to sell to the highest bidder.
What comes next is a turning point for the super-hero genre. Rather than schlock its way through a paint-by-numbers revenge flick, Deadpool actually, legitimately, authentically utilizes the character in a way that very few heroes have been portrayed on the big screen.
Reynolds’ Deadpool is brimming with often lewd, always clever commentary, in and out of costume. His super abilities include a healing factor not unlike the most iconic X-Man of all time, Wolverine, and he has an uncanny ability to break the fourth wall and address his audience. Wilson seems to know that he’s in a film, narrating and explaining goings-on as they happen.
For instance, as he recaps how the stunning opening car-chase-and-gun-battle scene came to be, X-Man Colossus (a metallic mutant completely computer generated and voiced by Stefan Kapicic) asks who he’s talking to, assuming that he’s simply insane. The fact that there are only two X-Men in the film –released by 20th Century Fox, not Marvel Films – is referenced by Deadpool, too.
Wilson also makes several references to the actor portraying him, in targeted slights directed at Reynolds’ not-too-successful portrayal of DC Comics hero Green Lantern and at his previous appearance as Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which, by all accounts, was terribly un-Deadpool.
I was given a chance to see the film in an MX4D Motion Effects theater, an experience that reflects the action on screen with rocking seats, strobe lights and jets of air. While Deadpool is most certainly a ride in and of itself, seeing the film in such a way made the action that much more intense. Oxnard’s Plaza Cinemas 14 has the only MX4D theater in the county.
Deadpool’s cast of characters is a strength rather than a weakness, unlike many other overcrowded super hero romps. T. J. Miller, as Weasel, plays off Reynolds’ personality so well that it honestly feels as if they’ve been friends since high school. Brianna Hildebrand, who plays the angst-ridden X-Man known as Negasonic Teenage Warhead (yeah, really), offers a counterpart to Deadpool’s manic personality.
Deadpool is not for kids. I don’t think that should even be a question, but really, it isn’t. There’s nudity, violence and profanity the likes of which haven’t been seen since Watchmen, though Deadpool is much better. History is being made with Deadpool: Not only did it crush box office records, but it propelled Ryan Reynolds into super hero stardom, where he rightfully deserves to be for his interpretation.