'Deadpool' is a bat-shit crazy, over-the-top, banana-sandwich type of character who shouldn't work on the big screen at all which is likely the cause for all the developmental hell this movie has gone through on the way to its release this weekend. 'Deadpool' was first seen onscreen in the abysmal 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' way way back in 2009, although in a butchered version. Since then Ryan Reynolds has gone on to try another superhero franchise, shared universes have become all the rage for blockbusters and Fox has really leaned into their tendency to say "fuck continuity!" with their X-Men properties. All of these things mixed with the burning passion Reynolds has for this character are what allowed 'Deadpool' to even get made.
The plot synopsis for 'Deadpool' reads as "A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego Deadpool" with Reynolds starring as Wade Wilson, the aforementioned merc. The rest of the cast includes Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Ed Skrein, Gina Carano and Brianna Hildebrand covering all of the necessary romantic, villain and comedic bases. This cast is lead by first-time director Tim Miller who has worked in the visual effects and video game industries for years as the founder of Blur Studios. He is directing from a script written originally by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick almost a decade ago and then tweaked for budgetary reasons before making its way to a set. The combination of this script and some test footage created by Miller leaking online stirred up public interest in this project to the point that Fox finally gave in.
'Deadpool' opens up immediately with a tone that will carry on through the entire runtime, with DP breaking the fourth wall and an opening credits sequence that is witty and offbeat as the comics that inspired this movie. The R rating of this movie is immediately evident as well with no signs of trying to hide the completely ridiculous violence and all of the bloodshed that comes with it right out of the gate. Comics in general lean towards the more violent side of things but this merc with a mouth and his many storylines definitely go over the top, existing in some weird Quentin Tarantino/Ferris Bueller hybrid universe. The action here is well choreographed and directed by Miller who used as many practical effects as possible, but the limited budget of this project hindered him, causing many sequences to be almost entirely CGI.
There are a few signs of a less experienced director at work here, namely the pacing of this movie. The story plays out in a non-linear fashion for the first two acts, bouncing back and forth between the main storyline (a revenge plot) and Wilson's origin story as a cancer patient who is turned into a scarred mutant before becoming the masked vigilante Deadpool. Since the flashbacks of DP's origin aren't related to the main plot when we cut to them, this structure can feel a little disjointed and off. Unfortunately, while the more emotional moments between Wilson and his main squeeze Vanessa (Baccarin) are well-acted and nearly reach the point of touching, they sometimes drag on a little too long. This isn't to say that these should be cut out completely as 'Deadpool' feels nowhere near overstuffed coming in under two hours, but perhaps a little more tweaking in the editing bay could have delivered a more balanced pace. Plus, who wants to see the bonkers sex montage get cut? Probably not you.
Whether the pacing of this movie works for you or not, there's plenty of variety to enjoy. 'Deadpool' constantly bounces from gratuitous action and violence to a few emotional beats to expertly delivered one-liners from the entire cast. If a joke in 'Deadpool' doesn't quite work for you, wait ten seconds and you'll get another shot. The improvised nature of Reynolds dialogue is evident throughout and he crushes it. With the humor, action, violence and all around tone being the highlights, not everything here is on point. 'Deadpool' suffers from the same thing that the folks over at Marvel Studios proper haven't learned how to get over quite yet. The villain and personal enemy to 'Deadpool' Ajax (Skrein) is lacking. Skrein does a fine enough job walking the line of charming british bad guy and exaggerated comic book villain but he can't work with what he isn't given. Ajax is used as little more than a motivating factor that places 'Deadpool' in the previously mentioned action sequences. Even less can be said for Carano's Angel Dust, who other than having a ridiculous haircut, is entirely forgettable. This is more forgiveable in the case of 'Deadpool' than the latest Avengers flick though since the real reason audiences are in the theater are for the merc himself.
'Deadpool' shouldn't exist in this form or at all on the silver screen. After being mutilated and ravaged in 'Wolverine', audiences should have turned their backs on this character and not come back, a la 'Fant4stic' last summer. Thankfully the screenwriters here believed in their idea and were trusting of Miller to bring it to life. This team's willingness to work with a smaller budget and Reynold's constant campaigning brought 'Deadpool' to life in the best way possible. While not a perfect movie, DP captures the tone and style of the comics in the best way possible with humor, fourth-wall-breaking, insane action and violence and does all of this with enough adequacy that I can't see a reason to leave the theater without a smile.