Director: Tim Miller
Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Ryan Reynolds
Composer: Tom “Junkie XL” Holkenborg
Cinematography: Ken Seng
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Ed Skrein, Gina Carano, Stefan Kapicic, Brianna Hildebrand, Leslie Uggams, Karan Soni, Jed Rees
Running Time: 108 minutes
Growing up in Seattle I visited my neighbors to the north quite often. Those that leave their doors unlocked, and have been the home to production for the adventures of Mulder & Scully. As Vancouver was just a ferry ride and a couple podcast hours away from fries, cheese curds, gravy… and the Expo ’86 “Baby Epcot” building. As a fan of many things Canadian, I would list Ryan Reynolds in my Top 50 Favorite things from Canada. Somewhere within the lovely comfort food dish known as poutine (numero uno), ice hockey, Terrance & Phillip, about 25 Canadian actress beauties, along with John Candy, Jim Carrey, Micheal J. Fox, Ramis & Moranis, TKITH, SCTV, Trailer Park Boys etc etc…
Ryan Reynolds has always been a hit with the ladies, gay men, and men secure with their “man-crushulinity” too perhaps. Not so much with his attempts at super hero film stardom. But as a fan of Van Wilder, Just Friends, Waiting, Smoking Aces and The Nines, I’ve always liked Ryan’s schtick, and his acting too. So I was rooting success for him this go round. Welp, third times the charm as they say, as his long in development passion project – shot in Reynolds’ hometown Vancouver no less – finally makes it’s debut. At roughly an hour and forty plus minutes, the simple, sarcastic revenge tale Deadpool hit just the right spots of heart, juvenile “self aware-verything” comedy, and bloody hard R action. Especially after a month or so of dramatic Oscar fare catch up movie going, this flick came along at the right time for me.
Being a non-comic book aficionado, my only knowledge of the Wade Wilson/Deadpool character is whatever that was on-screen in 2009’s Wolverine: X-Men Origins (where his turn as Hannibal King in Blade Trinity some years prior was more akin to Deadpool than Fox’s “Merc With a Sewn Shut Mouth” iteration apparently). That, and an old video game called Marvel Ultimate Alliance, where I found myself selecting the Deadpool character often to play with mainly for two reasons…
…so other than those two things, I’m a noob when it comes to Wade “Deadpool” Wilson. Let’s meet him shall we.
Ex-Special Forces operator turned mercenary for hire Wade Wilson is taking life day by day. Avenging teen girls with stalker problems, starting bar fights with blowjob shots, and trying to find his next paying gig. One evening after a job, he meets the “computer created girl of his dreams” in escort Vanessa Carlyle at his local drinking hangout. They find love over their relative rough childhoods, skee-ball, Voltron, and copious amounts of healthy “honeymoon part of a budding relationship” sex. During their blossoming relationship, Wade gets diagnosed with terminal cancer (bummer, as Baccarin is so darn attractive in this flick, no computers needed). Enter a shady man-in-black that offers a possible cure for what ails him, in return he wants to use Wilson’s cancer ridden body as a Petri dish for some hush hush Frankenstuff. Shit goes bad, Wade’s mutation is unlocked, with said mutant ability basically being immortality. But the trade off is he suffers a lifetimes worth of poking and prodding torture in a few months, and the bonus prize is his entire epidermal surface is now more akin to Freddy Krueger instead of Ryan Reynolds…and let the Wade Wilson revenge tour commence.
With this familiar set-up, the movie falls squarely on the shoulders of Reynolds, and he relishes every opportunity to do what he does best, carrying the movie with all he’s got, doing a fine job all throughout. What Deadpool lacks in complexity, director Tim Miller with his leads Reynolds and Baccarin make up for in the committed execution of the movie’s tone, attitude, and great chemistry. Fleshing out this adorable “hard knock life” pair to root for. With Firefly alumnus Morena Baccarin playing opposite Reynolds, giving the film its heart amidst all the f-bomb dropping, sliced human head kicked like a soccer ball- levity. I was very happy to see Baccarin on the big screen, even if she’s playing a hooker with a heart of gold again (with perhaps kinkier tastes than her Firefly character). I wanted to see more of her, as their courtship of each other, their “meet & sleep” cute worked really well for me.
The baddie Ajax’ (played vanilla fine by Ed Skrein) motivations for being a crux to Wade is aptly silly, like the movie. Since he essentially creates the “Merc With A Mouth”, after Wade figures out Ajax’ real birth name and teases him endlessly on said name as Ajax dials the torture up to “11”. That’s it, easy silly peasy. T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley) brings the laughs as well as Weasel, Wilson’s bartender buddy at the “Saint Margaret Home For Wayward Girls”. A front for a mercenary bar slash networking hangout spot for hired guns. Miller and Reynolds bounce off each other with improv riff fests, trying to come up with deleted scene or final cut zingers and vigilante name ideas. All while a sort of “non-Singer” version of X-Men team member Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic, mocap acted by Greg LaSalle) and his young X-Men trainee Negasonic Teenage Warhead, join along as sort of a partner/foil to Deadpool’s vengeance tour. With Colossus trying to convince the potty mouthed ‘Pool that he needs to embrace his heroic self… and stop swearing too.
As I mentioned earlier, this film’s universe and execution is small and simple. An opening scene, an interspersed flashback, and a third act finisher (or second scene if you will). A comic book origin story all shared from the view of the titular character, in the exact way how Wade/’Pool would tell his own story. As he narrates and rewinds/fast forwards VHS style for the audience on how this long awaited Christmas Day of revenge came to be.
Even when the movie holds back getting too sappy for a quip (via dialogue, a soundtrack choice, or visual gag), this softy still found himself caring about Wade & Vanessa. Even if Reynolds, Tim Miller, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick may have wanted me to to just laugh along, perhaps saving the serious for another Oscar-nom flick I haven’t seen yet.
Overall, I’d say Deadpool is probably the best “rom-com” released on this, or any other previous Valentines weekend I can remember. And probably the best comedy flick I’ve seen since 2015’s What We Do In The Shadows. Even though the scattershot quips, jokes, snarks and visual gags zing so fast (with a high rate of fire like Mr. Pool’s duel wielded guns), what might work for some, may not work for others. Jabs at past comic book movies from Fox Studios, ’80s & ’90s film/TV/music references, dick jokes, Reynolds poking fun at his own career. Judging by the mixed aged audience I saw it with – young folk, older folk, couples and probably some Deadpool die hards – there seemed to be a little something for everybody. As the theater was guffawing a few times over a string of jokes, missing a few in the process, sometimes in unison (and sometimes not), making Deadpool a multi generational laugh-along if you will.
With the R-rated action, gore, the physical raunchy comedy, gallows & meta humor being the clear sort of “risky” strength of what Fox allowed Tim Miller, the writers, Reynolds and his co-stars to focus their creative efforts on, that risk for Fox Studios paid off it seems. As last I checked, Deadpool is breaking February box office release records set by last years Valentines weekend juggernaut 50 Shades of Grey. “Cha-ching-michanga!” indeed.
From the opening credits until the final post credits scene, Deadpool entertained me more than I thought it would, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Wade Wilson & Friends back on the big screen in some form or fashion (along with more low/mid budget flicks like this and 2012’s Dredd/2014’s John Wick). As they too can have a seat at the table, satisfying my tastes just as well as some of the $200 million plus heavy hitters of this zeitgeist genre.
Deadpool is now playing at a theater near you.
Now off to find my Chicago Greatest Hits album…