Believe it or not, R-rated comic book fare CAN work at the box office. Remember the original Blade and its follow-up Blade II? (Let’s forget Blade Trinity, for obvious reasons.) They made back three times their budget and gained a huge following. Same goes for Sin City (NOT its sequel), which did a fairly good amount of business despite the black-and-white motif.
Now we have Deadpool, the latest model of R-rated Marvel programming – and, hopefully, a bounce back from whatever the hell Fantastic Four was supposed to be over six months ago. Fox was already facing a heavy amount of flack for that disaster, but would a rightfully filthy take on the masked assassin be just the ticket for a return to prosperity?
Well, let’s not focus on the business side of things, but it’s a safe yes. Or rather, a balls-out, ridiculously funny yes, as Deadpool is the movie we were hoping it would be when it came to the Merc With a Mouth. After his failed treatment in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (which the movie playfully nods to in more ways than one), he’s done justice here, as Wade Wilson gets his start getting revenge for smaller clients, before falling in love with a stripper (a fairly game Morena Baccarin) and, in tragic movie fashion, developing terminal cancer.
He can’t help but spread his pain to his beloved, so Wade undergoes a dangerous program headed up by Ajax (Ed Skrein) that will change him forever in the hopes of coming clean. He does, but at a price, as his skin becomes warped and he develops an immortality akin to Wolverine’s regenerative process. He manages to escape captivity, only to find returning to his old life isn’t so easy. Even his friend Weasel (T.J. Miller) notes that he looks like “an avocado that had sex with an older avocado.”
So he jumps into the suit and decides to take up freelance killings, only to gain the attention of not only his older adversaries, but also a couple of X-Men, in the form of Colossus (Stefan Kapicic, a step up from the previous X-Men 2 model) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand, gold). They come at just the right time, as Ajax decides to make his pursuit personal and goes after Vanessa.
It sounds a little silly in plot, but never mind – the screenwriting team of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland, another piece of R-rated awesome) manage to get every best joke they can out of the script, and Reynolds plays it beautifully, from the riffs on budget (like how there aren’t more X-Men in the Professor Xavier house) to the not-so-subtle jabs of Reynolds’ failed days as Green Lantern (“Just promise me you won’t make the suit green. Or animated.”). It fits right in with the story, with plenty of satisfying, stylish action and impressive set pieces – even more so considering the budget is about a third (or even a fourth) of most comic book fare.
Director Tim Miller paces the movie out pretty well, with plenty of humor and action to go around. There are dull moments with the villains at times (though Gino Carano does make an enjoyable Angel Dust, especially with her brawl with Colossus), but the movie speeds right back up when it needs to. The finale is especially a fun watch, and the after-credits scene truly delivers, with Deadpool acknowledging not only the value of said scene, but also not to leave trash on the floor, because that’s a “dick” move. Just watch it, you’ll love it.
It’s NOT for kids. Let me warn you right off the bat. The movie has no problem wearing its shame on its sleeve, as it lets loose with R-rated dialogue aplenty (there’s even a “cockgobbler” thrown in for good measure), some nudity, and a whole lot of carnage. Unless you’ve got a child that’s into that, do yourself a favor and leave them at home – with a copy of Guardians of the Galaxy or something. This is definitely a movie for those that can handle the maturity (giggle) of the content.
Aside from small dry spots and the fact that Ajax didn’t quite live up to his potential, Deadpool is a nice return to form for Fox’s Marvel division, and probably the best R-rated slice-and-dice fare we’ve seen since the old days of Snipes as Blade. It’s good fun throughout, and Reynolds puts on a show as the Pool, alongside some other great actors and sharp action sequences. You won’t be sorry if you go to this for Valentine’s Day instead of some schmaltzy romance movie. You don’t need 50 Shades of Grey anyway…you need 50 Shades of Pool.