Deadpool review: Come for the murder, stay for the laughs
If you are looking for a short review, if you don’t want to waste time with things like pesky analytical breakdowns, here is your one sentence Deadpool review: It’s great, it’s funny, go see it.
As a longtime fan of comics, I am more or less contractually obligated to see every film based on a comic book. If you really want a deep dive into how deep my obsession goes, you can check out my article discussing all the news and rumors of every TV show based on comics in development. It recently passed 10,000 words.
That said, I was going to see Deadpool no matter what, but I went into it without much expectation. Despite some clever marketing (see below), it looked like every other superhero origin film, just with a few more jokes.
It turns out the marketing is more on point than I thought, and those bizarre and funny campaigns are representative of the film. Deadpool is a comedy masquerading as an action film. And surprisingly, it’s one of the best comedies released in the last few months, regardless of genre.
Maybe part of my trepidation was a well-earned bias against Ryan Reynolds in films based on comics, but more than that, I have mixed feelings about Fox’s Marvel films as a whole.
I’m not much of a Bryan Singer fan. I still think Usual Suspects was his best film, and everything after that has been just alright. The first two X-Men films were fine in the vacuum when they had no competition, but they don’t hold up. Days of Future Past was a justifiable hit, but you can also credit a lot of that film’s success to First Class director Matthew Vaughn, who essentially saved the X-series after the disastrous X-Men 3.
Deadpool is firmly in that universe, but it isn’t quite like any of the others. It follows some superhero film tropes, including offering an origin story, a love interest, and even a villain with a British accent. Where this film differs though, is that it is completely aware of what it is doing, and it has no problem mocking itself in the process.
Humor is intensely subjective – more so than any other film genre. You can watch an action film and analytically breakdown aspects of it. Someone else may disagree with you, but you can generally make a strong, fact-based argument for why you feel that way. Comedy is different though, and it typically comes down entirely to preference.
With Deadpool, if gore and grotesque violence isn’t your thing, if the F-bomb makes you squirm, if jokes about sex don’t appeal to you, this isn’t the movie for you. This is by far the bloodiest mainstream superhero to date, but it is so over-the-top and filled with ultra-violence that it won’t bother most people, and it consistently comes off as funny. If you’re into that sort of thing.
Deadpool is R-rated, and not just for an overindulgence in violence and maybe the odd F-bomb, but it is a HARD R, featuring sex, nudity, language, and brutal violence. In other words, don’t take your kids.
In the screening I went to, we sat next to a pair of kids that were probably around 10-12. It was a little disturbing to hear them cackle at a joke about hookers and cocaine. It was uncomfortable, and I hope the movie led to a particularly awkward conversation with their parents or guardians about what the sexual act of pegging is, thanks to a particularly graphic sex scene.
Yeah, it’s that type of movie. Don’t take your young kids, and don’t let them guilt you into taking them. That is how affluenza teens are born.
I honestly don’t give a shit if you take your kids to R-rated movies (I went to a ton as a kid and I’m mostly well adjusted. Ish), just don’t go in thinking Deadpool is going to be like Ant-Man with the odd dab of humor. It is a fundamentally different type of movie, even if they share a source universe. I liked Ant-Man, but it was more of the same. Deadpool is something different, even if it uses the same mold.
Deadpool is the inevitable re-examination of a subgenre that is becoming saturated. If mainstream superhero characters are going to continue to dominate the box office, they need to be able to change and examine the same type of material from different angles.
That’s exactly what Deadpool does. It is a comedy set in a world where metallic men can shrug off bullets, and sulky teenage girls can flatten trained soldiers with barely a thought. And it absolutely works.
The humor is so prominent it’s easy to overlook just how well made the film is, and how easily it hides its inescapable flaws.
From the hilarious opening credits to the last scene, there is very little fat on the movie. It tells yet another origin story, but does so in a way that makes it just part of the story. It isn’t about a guy getting powers, it is about a guy with powers on a mission, and oh by the way here’s how he got them and why the mission is important to him. Still, it is an origin story, complete with the tropes.
First time director Tim Miller deserves a lot of credit for the film’s balanced pacing. It jumps from action to exposition with ease, and there is very little in this film that could or should be cut. It all matters, and if anything, there could have been more of it.
The rest of the cast, including Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, and T.J. Miller all fit their somewhat stereotypical roles well (the love interest, the bad guy, the comic relief respectively), but this is very much Reynolds film.
He absolutely redeems himself in the superhero world. He even makes several jokes about his previous failures. Deadpool is a passion project for him, and it should pay off. This is a defining role for Reynolds.
Deadpool review conclusion
Deadpool will probably be classified as an action film thanks to the superhero genre it is born out of, but that’s a misnomer. It’s a comedy, and a damn good one. In fact, it’s one of the best comedies in awhile. It just happens to be a superhero film.
Fans of the original comics should love what Reynolds and Miller have done with the character. They cut no corners, and just went all in. It absolutely works, and stands as what may be the best X-movie yet.
Deadpool is rated R, with a running time of 1 hour 40 minutes.