Monday, February 15, 2016

Deadpool Review: Merc with a Movie

In the comics, Deadpool is a polarizing character. His fourth-wall breaking antics range from surprisingly funny and insightful to "HAHA #LOLRandom, laugh because Deadpool is soooo crazy". The consensus is that except in the hands of a very strong writer, Deadpool is good only in small doses and in team books, if that. So when I settled into my seat, I was hoping for an enjoyable movie, but fully expecting it to hit me in the face with meta joke after meta joke, all but shoving thought balloons into my face in a desperate attempt to be over the top and Krazy with a kapital K.

Now that I've seen it, my biggest complaint is frankly that the movie clears the top with only about six inches to spare, and while adequately crazy, it's a very sedate crazy. With a lowercase c. 

The basics. Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool a.k.a. Wade Wilson, the merc with a mouth, and he isn't afraid to use it. Imagine him as Spider-Man's far more foulmouthed brother. A former special forces soldier turned thug with a twisted sense of humour, Wilson falls in love with a woman just as twisted as he is. Since life has a sense of humour even more twisted than his, it turns out he has cancer of the everything. A shady man comes with an offer too good to be true, claiming he represents parties that can cure him. If you are wondering whether they do, or if there's a catch, welcome to the first movie of your life. For the rest, of course he's double crossed, tortured, horribly scarred all over, and left to die. He doesn't, and emerges with ugly face ("you look like the inside of an asshole", his friend comments) and a flippant attitude ("the one thing that never escapes this place is a sense of humour", his torturer tells him. Deadpool is determined to prove him wrong) and goes on a path of vengeance. Also, because his torturer is the only one who can fix his face. Setpieces happen, Deadpool flips a lot, a couple of X-Men show up, (ostensibly to recruit him but really because let's face it, Deadpool really does work best with a comedic foil.), the girlfriend gets kidnapped and well, you can guess the rest.

If the plot seems rote, it's because it is. It's honestly the weakest thing about the movie. It's basic, and only here to string up the jokes and the crackling chemistry.

Ahhh yes, the chemistry. If the plot's the weakest thing about the movie, the chemistry among the cast is probably the strongest. Whether it's between Deadpool and his girlfriend, or Deadpool and the bad guy, or Deadpool and Colossus and his protege Negasonic Teenage Warhead (the aforementioned X-Men who show up), or even Deadpool and his roommate blind Al and friend Weasel - this is a cast that's having fun with the material. At the centre of it all is the shining jewel that is Ryan Reynolds. Having built a career as a Hollywood heartthrob, he dives into the character of Deadpool, facial warts and all, with fearless abandon. He makes the movie. Also, yes, Negasonic Teenage Warhead IS the coolest superhero name you have heard of. Deadpool knows that as well.

The script, on the other hand, is a hit and miss. More hits than misses, but the jokes don't fly as thick and fast as you would think, and many of them land for hardcore fans, but not the casual viewer. To it's credit, the love story at the heart doesn't seem jarring at all, shifts in tone kept in sync thanks to the use of humour throughout. Deadpool is also a much "nicer" guy than he is in the comics, but I guess they did have to tone down the nastiness not to turn off the audience. It's just that with Deadpool, it's easy to be too "edgy" but this movie feels like it could do with a little more. Let's just say that in an universe where of "Daredevil" is a thing and "Punisher: War Zone" already happened, a superhero turning a guy into a "fucking kebab" is NOT shocking.  

Oh, don't get me wrong. It's a good film, and a great way to spend a couple of hours. It's genuinely funny most of the time, the music is really good, the action kicks ass and Ryan Reynolds is looooong overdue for a successful comic book movie. After 4 attempts. all stinkers, he finally has one that has been created with little money (by Hollywood supermovie standards. Seriously, the budget is bottom-of-the-barrel, and it shows.) but a lot of love and enthusiasm for the source material. I'll be there, popcorn in hand on the first weekend of the sequel. Just promise me you'll talk to us a little more, ok Ryan? That's all I need.

PS: Yes, there's quite a few jokes about Green Lantern and Mouthless Deadpool, but they're funny.

PPS: Everyone's already said it, but the opening credits are one of the best and funniest I have ever seen.

PPPS: I get that if Deadpool realises this, there's no movie, but there's no way his scarring would repel the woman in love with him. Ultimately, Deadpool is like his own movie, far less ugly than he thinks he is.