There is something alluring about Deadpool, an anti-hero who seems to be everything that the superhero genre isn’t — a character that says what we would (if we were donning a skin-tight superhero costume) and tearing people to shreds alongside funny one-liners. But, there is something also misguided about the culminating cinematic treatment of this character, and that is frustrating to see in a movie that is so proud of how different it is.
While Deadpool in no ways is a “game changer,” it has its moments of fun and is anchored by a charismatic Reynolds, who feels bred for the part of the foul-mouthed mercenary.
The movie follows Wade Wilson (Reynolds), an ex-special forces operative turned mercenary, who undergoes an off-the-books treatment after learning that he has multiple forms of cancer. After having adverse effects to the treatment, he sets out — under the guise of Deadpool — to find the man in charge of the operation in order to attempt to fix the dis-figuration that happened to him.
Deadpool prides itself on self-parody and constantly winking at the audience. This ongoing quirk is what Miller and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick use as their battle cry in the thicket of over-saturated superhero blockbusters, but it also seems to handicap them from doing anything truly revolutionary. There is nothing new about having someone turn and talk to the audience in a movie, but they treat the conceit as if they are making something truly radical.
Instead of priding itself so much on how edgy it is, Deadpool could’ve used more focus on bringing something new to the action movie front given it had a magnetic and fun lead performance out of Ryan Reynolds. In a genre that has become stale and at times almost routine, Deadpool had all of the makings of something fresh and new, but sunk into the conformities it was too busy mimicking.
If there is one glaring flaw that Deadpool has, it is in its misguided cockiness. Miller crafts a movie that has the confidence of something truly transcendent in the genre, but again, wastes its energy on snark and fan service. As we move deeper and deeper into the film, it also becomes apparent that we are in the midst of yet another origin story and one that we have seen countless times before.
Too bad. Reynolds seems completely at home in the role, and the movie allows him to flex his muscles and re-create the role into his own vision. In this sense, the movie flies, doing its best to fight off the script that seems hellbent on clipping its own wings. There is the point where self-reflexive humor becomes overbearing and turns in on itself and Deadpool hits that mark too quickly.
The fun is there — watching Reynolds trade verbal punches with T.J. Miller or Morena Baccarin or the crew of C-list X-Men is worth the price of a matinee ticket. The action has its exhilarating moments and Miller, a former VFX worker, shows that he has some understanding of the genre and gives us sequences that pop and feel alive, but those are too few.
Deadpool is not the game changer it so proudly wants to be, instead becoming yet another cog in the superhero machine. Maybe with another installment, it will find its legs and begin to give its anti-hero the proper treatment, but with a culture driven by fan service, it seems more inclined to continue with the quick quips and round-the-clock slaying to quench their appetite.