The Good: Acting is fine, Special effects, Some fun lines
The Bad: Ridiculously simplistic plot, Light on character development, Predictable character arcs
The Basics: Divorced from the hype, Deadpool is surprisingly disappointing.
March is a big Marvel month for me. With the return of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Daredevil Season Two dropping on Netflix, I'll be reviewing a lot of Marvel works this month (which is fair, given how well-represented the DC Television Universe has been already this year!). I'm starting by catching up with Deadpool, a film I saw weeks ago and didn't quite get around to reviewing. Like many people, I was excited about Deadpool, but my enthusiasm was based more on Ryan Reynolds and the viral marketing campaign that had Reynolds as Deadpool commenting on current events than on the source material - it turns out I've only read and reviewed one Deadpool book (Deadpool Classics, Volume 1 is reviewed here!), which did not overly grab me.
I realized how little I enjoyed Deadpool when I was talking to a teller at my local credit union and she complained that the weekend went by again without her and her partner going to the theaters to see Deadpool. My reaction must have been extreme enough that she asked what I thought of the film and I was surprised by how quickly I came back with "It wasn't worth it." The reason for my lack of enthusiasm for Deadpool came from how uncomplicated the movie was. Outside the occasional fun lines, Deadpool is exceptionally simplistic; it is two fight scenes tied together with a protracted flashback that explains the point of the fight.
Opening with Deadpool in a cab, headed to a bridge in New York City, Wade Wilson gets out at a can of worms of multiple highways and waits. When Deadpool sees a motorcade en route, he leaps off the bridge and causes a traffic jam. Deadpool attacks the people in the motorcade, his target being Ajax. The attack on the highway draws the attention of the mutant Colossus. Colossus and his sidekick, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, head to intercept Deadpool.
The film flashes back to a year prior. At that time, Wilson was working as a mercenary in New York City when he met Vanessa at a bar. Vanessa was a prostitute and she and Wilson bond with sarcastic remarks before having sex. After multiple sexual encounters, Vanessa and Wilson fall in love, but then Wilson gets incredibly invasive cancer. Wilson leaves Vanessa to get involved with a secret experimental project that promises to cure his cancer. Using mutant genes and torture, Ajax manages to treat Wilson's cancer, mutilating him in the process. After a violent escape attempt, Ajax leaves Wilson for dead, but Wilson escapes to become Deadpool and he begins hunting Ajax. Back in the present, Colossus intervenes in Deadpool's attempt to kill Ajax, which allows the villain to escape. Ajax learns about Vanessa and captures her, forcing a conflict between himself and the mutant mercenary.
Deadpool has a couple of amusing lines - mostly between Deadpool and Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Wilson and Vanessa - but its incredibly basic plot makes for a film almost entirely lacking in flair. Ryan Reynolds lobbied for the role of Deadpool in a solo movie based, in no small part, on his success in portraying Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (reviewed here!). X-Men Origins: Wolverine certainly had its problems, but it had a more interesting dynamic and sense of style than Deadpool. Deadpool is entirely lacking in character development, deeper moments or even the simplistic reversals that its predecessor possessed. Deadpool entirely ignores Reynolds's first outing as Wade Wilson and replaces it with fourth-wall breaks, which are appropriate to the character, but hold up less-well in the film.
Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin and the rest of the cast do an adequate job in their roles, but none of the performers are particularly challenged by their roles. Ajax (Francis) is a monolithic adversary and Ed Skrein plays it fine, though it is entirely uncomplicated. Similarly, Ryan Reynolds has done snarky and quick-witted plenty of times before. While he (and others) might want to disavow Green Lantern (reviewed here!), the role of Hal Jordan gave Reynolds more to play with and moments of greater range than Wade Wilson/Deadpool did.
The lack of stellar character moments or deep performances that employ or stretch any sense of range for the actors involved accent the simplistic plot. Two fight scenes with an extended expository scene makes for a predictable and dull movie that holds up poorly over multiple viewings. Like most comedies (and action movies), Deadpool hinges a lot on shock value and loses most of its punch over multiple viewings.
The result is a film that effectively used hype and as that hype dies down, viewers who want substance will likely tire of the weak results, no matter how stylish the results were.
For other works with Morena Baccarin, please check out my reviews of:
The Flash - Season 1
V - Season 2
V - Season 1
Firefly - The Complete Series
For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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