Deadpool (2016) – Review

DeadpoolI was initially a little reluctant to watch Deadpool; he’s a character who seems to have more than the usual number of fans who don’t know when to finish conversations. I was worried that the film would be pandering, full of fan service and self-conscious edginess.

When I was finally dragged to watch it though, I was pleasantly surprised. Deadpool, due to the concept, was always going to be a difficult film to pull off, but it’s actually rather well done.

Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) was, once, a mercenary who talked too much. A series of risky genetic experiments made him into Deadpool, a horribly disfigured, super-powered vigilante who talks too much. The film focuses partly on this origin story, and partly on his quest to get revenge, get his melted skin healed, and win back the love of his life.

Deadpool, the titular character, exists in the same superhero universe as the X-men and the rest of Marvel’s stable. He’s rather different to the others though – Deadpool isn’t a standard hero. He’s violent, for one thing, and violent beyond the standard level of comics. He stabs and shoots, rather than punching. There’s lots of blood and dismemberment.

People die, messily, on screen. In some ways, that’s an improvement on other superhero films – Deadpool is honest about the death tolls inherent in super-powered brawls in populated areas, and it’s good to see villains being dealt with appropriately. After so many films where it doesn’t work, “lock up this deranged genius in the prison he just broke out from” stops being a viable strategy.

Deadpool has a high age rating – partly because of the violence, but also because of the humour. It’s frequently filthy, occasionally depraved, and almost entirely puerile. I’m not the biggest fan of that kind of thing – lots of thrusting crotches and toilet humour – but that’s a personal preference. The people who I was with enjoyed it hugely, and, for puerile humour, it was mostly well-constructed. I don’t like boorish, but boorish and clumsy is far worse.

Not all the jokes were about flatulence. Deadpool‘s titular character is framed for breaking the fourth wall, for his awareness that he is in a comic. That’s played with effectively throughout, right from the credits, and was definitely the best part of the film for me. Attempts are made to deconstruct and criticise the genre, particularly Marvel’s current blitz of quite similar films.

 

Plot-wise, Deadpool is thin on the ground. It’s essentially just the origin story – he gains powers, goes after the established bad guy. To make it more interesting though, the film is almost entirely flashbacks. A large proportion of the film, in the present, takes place during a single, brief, action sequence. Deadpool just keeps reminiscing while hanging upside down by one foot, or halfway through a somersault. The presentation of the plot does a lot to excuse its simplicity.

Mention should be made of the romantic side to the plot. Although there is a traditional superhero plot going on around it, the core of the film and the protagonist’s motivation are all focused on a single relationship. It’s non-standard, definitely, and rather different to Hollywood’s common conception of love, but it works. There’s a believable relationship at the core of it all, rather than a simpering subplot that only matters when the stakes need to be raised.

 

Deadpool isn’t really my sort of film. It relies too much on a kind of humour that I seem unable to view as anything other than adolescent and awkward. With that said, that doesn’t make Deadpool a bad film, just not one aimed at me. For what it was, and was intended to be, it’s very polished and entertaining. Occasionally, it’s even kind of clever.

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