It feels appropriate to me that I’m especially caffeinated and opening this review with a reference to the fact I am indeed writing a review and making it all about me, because I’m an impressionable little boy. Albeit an impressionable little boy with the beer bellied-and-breasted body of a balding 25 year old, but an impressionable little boy nevertheless, who now thinks he’s Deadpool. Though, sure, this is a review and not a piece of fiction, so there isn’t really a fourth wall to break by referencing the fact it’s a review. Mind, it’s not like I know how to write one anyway.
Deadpool is a film that has been a long time in the making, or rather a long time in limbo, what with general studio bullshit and fuckuppery. We’re talking a decade’s worth of blueballs here, or blue-clitorises (maybe?) for the ladies, so has perhaps built up a more fevered anticipation for its arrival than even the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s self-perpetuating excitement system. On a smaller scale, sure, but that’s probably only intensified it. Therefore, the big question is has it been worth the wait? The feel-free-to-skip-out-on-the-rest-of-the-review short answer is yes.
I’m not going to sit here in Animal from The Muppets pyjama bottoms, brightly coloured socks, and a bizarrely patterned monochrome t-shirt, and tell you that I’ve been an avid reader of the comics and a general fanboy of Deadpool, because I’ve not. I have, however, been long aware of him and meaning to read the comics because I love meta, am riddled with pop culture references to the point that I almost solely communicate through the medium of them, and I too like violence and would like to see Eminem stick Nine Inch Nails through each one of his eyelids. The film has made me more determined to get on board with the comics, and I’ve not really read comics since I used to read Spawn when I was little. Deadpool fanatics, where should I start?
Why do I think the film will have been worth the wait for the real, proper fans? Because I believe the film has met the perceived expectations I’ve seen for it, and will give those diehards exactly what they will have wanted from a Deadpool movie. Again, from my awareness of the character and from what I’ve seen coming from genuine fans over the long build up to this point. Why has the film made me more determined to get into Deadpool comics? Because Deadpool is pretty much exactly who I had imagined him to be from peripheral awareness and experiences of him.
Now, why will casual viewers enjoy this potentially esoteric and cult comic book movie? Because it’s just fucking entertaining. It’s pretty relentless for the most part in its pace, and doesn’t really let up. It’s funny throughout, and on more than a few occasions, really fucking funny. The action is over the top violent, often managing to be aesthetically impressive and cartoonishly comedic simultaneously (if the cartoon in question was the graphically violent Happy Tree Friends, or just ya know a Deadpool comic). But perhaps most importantly of all, because Ryan Reynolds is clearly having the fucking time of his life playing Deadpool/Wade Wilson, is also giving it his absolute all, and just is Deadpool/Wade Wilson. In many ways, Reynolds carries the movie. Not on his back, but on his regularly referenced and featured, perfectly toned (smart)ass.
Complaints that could be levelled at the film would be that there really isn’t much to go on plotwise, by way of originality at least. It’s a pretty straightforward origin/revenge story and that lack of much to go on could be extended to the one-dimensional and not very perilous enemies Deadpool has to face. However, that’s to kind of miss the point of the film, the point of which is Deadpool himself. The self-referential, expletive-laden, essentially-immortal, fourth wall-breaking ‘Merc with the Mouth’, who knows he’s a comic book character in a comic book movie based within a cinematic comic universe (20th Century Fox’s X-Men universe to be precise). The tropes and beats are there for him to react to more than anything. The arc plays second fiddle to its protagonist. Which isn’t to say don’t bother expecting original or more nuanced storytelling from Deadpool, but more that that’s not the thing you should be expecting. It’s Deadpool you should be expecting, and Deadpool is what you get.
Plus, you can say that it’s just another origin story, but because of the narrative choice to cut back and forth between present (almost until the end of the movie) and past, you get Deadpool right from the offset instead of waiting half hour or more for him to come to be. And what an offset, the opening credits set-piece and the proceeding opening scenes to catch you up to it is brilliant and distills the stylish ultra-violence, crass humour, and mature in the most immature comic movie ethos of Deadpool perfectly. Speaking of the humour, it won’t be for everyone; crude, childish, self-referential, meta, pop culture knowledge requiring, constant. But in the cinema I saw it, a hell of a lot more hit than missed. And I laughed plenty. And plenty loud.
Don’t take Deadpool too seriously, it certainly isn’t.