After a less than flattering appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) - and one that had comic book fans crying foul of a vastly bastardised version of the character - this 2016 iteration of Marvel's Deadpool has the meta, self referential button gloriously cranked all the way to twelve; the movie's fourth wall breaking anti-hero cramming in as many in jokes per scene as possible. If one was to describe Tim Miller's Deadpool, it would be the X-Men with the vibe of Matthew Vaughan's Kick-Ass. The film displays a frank irreverence for the superhero genre - coming across like an intoxicated, distant cousin of Joss Whedon's Avengers, and antithesis of Chris Nolan's brooding Gotham-verse. It's the movie that Will Smith's Hancock hoped to be (although that movie had its moments, it just didn't quite work as a complete package). Screenwriters Rhett Rheese and Paul Wernick prove that Zombieland was not a fluke, applying their aptitude for snappy dialogue (although I'd like to know how much improv/ad libbing was involved in the filmmaking process) with aplomb.
For an "origins" tale, The plot of Deadpool is the epitome of simplicity -with some X-Men assistance from the wonderfully named Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Collusus. As someone who has never read the comics, Deadpool's origins story has apparently been more than slightly altered, but it doesn't adversely impact upon the film to a great degree. Visual effects whiz Tim Miller (making his feature length debut) employs the fractured timeline narrative to brilliant effect, flitting seamlessly between the past and present; the movie beginning with Wilson firmly established as The Merc with a Mouth before flash-backing to how and why in between his ass kicking exploits. The brisk running time is perfectly judged, ensuring that the film doesn't outstay its welcome (it's almost become obligatory for every superhero or action movie to be a two and a half hour epic).guy meets girl and falls in love, gets terminally ill, inadvertently becomes enhanced with regenerative mutant powers, has to save girl from the sneering Brit baddie (that isn't actually spoiling anything as this is one of those rare occasions where the movie is not greatly afflicted by the storyline taking a relative back seat)
Special mention must be made of the great use of popular music with the likes of Juice Newton's Angel of the Morning, Chicago, Wham, DMX, and Salt n Pepa. Its one of the best song-centric soundtracks compiled since Guardians of the Galaxy, and since the days of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. What makes it good is not because of the individual songs per se; it's more in terms of how each song feels like it's been tailored to fit each scene perfectly, much in the same way that Tarantino uses popular (and more obscure) music for his films.
However, Deadpool is really all about the wise cracking machine that is Ryan Reynolds. Finally we can lay to rest the notion that Reynolds is box office poison. The guy has just been a little unlucky with how certain films panned out. The much derided Green Lantern is nowhere near as bad as some critics would have you believe, and he was the best thing in Blade Trinity (OK, so RIPD was awful despite the best efforts of Reynolds, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Bacon). The former Mr. Van Wilder just needed the perfect vehicle for his talents, and boy has his perseverance to get Deadpool on celluloid paid dividends (and kudos for the Fox executive that gave the green light AND allowing it to be R-rated). If Christopher Reeve is considered to be the perfect incarnation of Superman, then it's fair to suggest that Reynolds was born to play Deadpool. Aside from that, there is a very brief moment around halfway into the movie that proves there is a decent actor underneath all the jokes. For just one moment, the tone is completely serious, and Wade Wilson's expression says everything without a single line of dialogue uttered. It is a scene that recalls Reynolds' excellent performance in Buried.
However, in addition to the basic plot, it must be said that (for an action movie), the set pieces and combat choreography are probably the least impressive aspect of Deadpool. To be fair, there's nothing particularly wrong about it, but neither is the action particularly outstanding, and therein lies the problem. There isn't one sequence that has a genuine "wow" factor - think to the likes of the Hydra ambush on Nick Fury in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or Hulk Buster Vs Hulk in Age of Ultron as recent examples. When Deadpool finally confronts Ed Skrein's Ajax in the third act, their personal duel doesn't really set the pulse racing as it should, and that's unfortunate as Deadpool otherwise hits the mark.
Superhero movies (even if Deadpool doesn't regard himself as such) have been getting a tough time lately. It seems that, after years of getting a Superman or Batman movie every few years, some filmgoers have become a little jaded, and feel that there is an over saturation of the market (especially where the Internet buzz is concerned). Deadpool most certainly provides a fresh injection into the genre, and redresses the balance and then some. Tim Miller, for his full feature debut, has hit the ground running, and he will have a hard act to follow for his next movie. Ryan Reynolds finally delivers a film that aligns his talent for cracking wise with his action hero physicality. You probably won't have as much fun in the cinema all year (superhero or otherwise)!