Deadpool released to acclaim and massive success, I assume surprising anyone who watched any of its dire trailers. The reception is a bit mystifying to me. Deadpool isn’t a bad film, but it really does nothing that viewers haven’t seen before. Maybe that isn’t quite true; viewers haven’t seen a superhero movie that quite earns an R rating like this one, other than maybe Watchmen. The rest follows familiar threads with a star that is somewhat more violent and interested in telling jokes before.
Aside from all the foul language, blood and some nudity, this is essentially the same superhero origin movie you’ve seen a dozen times before. While they attempt to disguise it with some flashbacks, this is the same plot as Batman Begins and Iron Man, among others. Wade Wilson is a former Special Forces operative who is diagnosed with cancer. To spare his girlfriend having to watch him waste away, he joins up with a group that claims they can cure his cancer and give him superpowers. When they unsurprisingly turn out to be bad guys, Wade engineers an escape and sets out for revenge. It executes that plot well, but it is a tired one. It also tries to hang its hat on Deadpool’s jokes, which isn’t that novel either. Being a joker is pretty much Iron Man’s whole shtick. Deadpool’s sense of humor tends to be more of the Family Guy non sequitur variety, but it is the same dynamic at play. It is significantly more bloody and violent than other superhero movies, which I guess could move the needle for some people.
Where the movie succeeds is with Reynolds take on the titular character. The material occasionally fails him, but he delivers his lines with some great comic rhythm and timing. The movie is at its best in the action scenes, with Deadpool in costume living up to his reputation as the “merc with a mouth.” Unfortunately, that takes up a surprisingly small amount of the runtime. Much more time is wasted on showing who he was before he became Deadpool, an unoriginal and uninteresting story. Still, the fighting is largely very good. The only real part where the fighting falters is with the fact that the important combatants are basically invincible. Deadpool, the villains Angel and Ajax, and the X-Man Colossus all wail on each other to little effect until the plot calls for it.
Colossus is another point of contention. He looks terrible, and the part they have him play isn’t much better. The special effects are mostly unobtrusive, except for one big silver cartoon on the screen. They really could have pulled any X-Man out of a hat to play that role, which is just to be the butt of some of Deadpool’s jokes, and they really should have chosen one that wouldn’t have looked so cheap and just plain bad on the screen.
Still, Deadpool kind of works. Most of that is due to Reynolds, but it delivers enough laughs and excitement to not be a complete waste. The fawning reactions it has garnered will continue to baffle me, but I can’t say it is completely undeserving.