“Deadpool”, the latest superhero film based on Marvel Comics character, is a one-joke stretched too long and too thin. It is amusing during its few early scenes, but then it ultimately follows those usual conventions of many other superhero movies we have seen during recent years. Every time it slaps or strikes us with its ‘subversive’ R-rated elements, it always throws winks and smirks at us just for making it sure that we get its nasty and raunchy jokes peppered with irreverent metafictional touches, and I was constantly annoyed by this while finding myself caring less and less about whatever was at stake for its decidedly unsavory superhero.
After the opening scene cheerfully coupled with a faux main title which makes a goofy fun of the movie itself, we meet Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), and he is going to somewhere by taxi for his personal matter to be taken care of. While wearing a tight red costume reminiscent of Spider-Man, Deadpool is not your average superhero on the surface; he is a mean, vulgar, amoral, and impertinent wiseass who frequently hurls crude wisecracks at us or others around him, and you will not be surprised to see that this crass jerk does not care much about justice or heroism or whatever is associated with human goodness.
As a big, bloody, and violent action sequence is unfolded shortly after he arrives at his destination spot, Deadpool sometimes breaks the fourth wall for directly talking to us and getting more time for wisecracks, and listening to him is pretty much like being stuck with someone trying to impress and tickle you *too* hard. While you may be amused for a while by heaps of movie references to be sprung out from his chatty (and filthy) mouth, he is so self-conscious of his movie world that there is even such a line like this at one point: “A fourth wall break inside a fourth wall break? That’s like, sixteen walls!”
And we get a series of long flashback scenes which show, yes, how he happened to gain his superpower. When he was relatively normal, Deadpool was Wade Wilson, a former Special Forces operative who became a mercenary operating in his skid row neighborhood. Like his future alter ego, Wade was not a very good guy either, and he was happy and satisfied with his seedy life as long as he gets opportunities for wielding his particular set of skills (yep, he certainly mentions “Taken” (2008) and its sequels!) and then earning some money for spending at his frequent bar managed by his friend Weasel (T.J. Miller). When he came across a sexy woman named Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin) during one night at the bar, something sparked between them, but, alas, their hot dirty happiness, which is briskly presented through an outrageous montage of their debaucheries (one kinky moment involved with their changed sex roles is particularly cringe-inducing, by the way), did not last that long when he was diagnosed to have a terminal cancer and then let himself subjected to a secret experiment supervised by Francis Freeman a.k.a. Ajax (Ed Skrein), an evil, sadistic mutant who had a very special plan for Wade’s dying body.
Oh, now I realize I forgot to mention to you that the movie belongs to the universe of the ongoing X-Men franchise. While Professor Xavier and Wolverine are mentioned (another example of self-conscious line: “McAvoy or Stewart? These timelines can get so confusing.”), the movie has a few other mutant characters besides Deadpool and Ajax, and they are Angel Dust (Gina Carano), who is Ajax’s fierce, ruthless right-hand girl; Piotr Rasputin/Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapičić), a big metal CGI guy who somehow can eat cereal for breakfast instead of bolts and nuts; and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), who will probably change her rather corny name someday at the end of her moody adolescent years.
In case of Wade, he got the super self-healing/regenerating power thanks to Ajax’s extreme medical experiment on his body, and now he is nearly immortal, but there is a price; his body was stressed so much during the process that his face at present is somewhere between Freddy Krueger and that latex mask wore by Kevin Bacon in “Hollow Man” (2000), which is sadly not mentioned in the film. After managing to get away from Ajax, Wade became determined to get his payback time, so we are served with more flashback scenes as he begins to establish his new identity while continuing to hesitate about meeting his girl again.
If the first half of the film is spinning its wheels in the tedium of this unoriginal origin story I have described to you so far, the second half of the film drenches itself in lots of CGI actions during the predictably bombastic climactic sequence unfolded around an abandoned aircraft carrier, and there is very little to engage us here. Ajax and Angel Dust are quite bland villains from the beginning, and, regardless of their actual acting talent, Ed Skrein and Gina Carano do not have nothing much to do besides looking angry, tough, and menacing. Stefan Kapičić and Brianna Hildebrand are in a little better position as the straight foils for Deadpool, and T.J. Miller and Morena Baccarin have a small fun with their respective roles even though the movie does not utilize them well on the whole.
Ryan Reynolds, who already played Deadpool before in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (2009) and was pretty forgettable in that film, gives a spirited manic performance reminiscent of his another loony work in “The Voices” (2014), where he played a hopelessly nice serial killer for good dark laughs. It is undeniable that he does everything he can do with his superhero character here, and I actually admired his verbal comic intensity even while I was not so impressed by the movie itself. After all, not many guys can retain their sense of humor after what Wade went through, and Reynolds somehow keeps his character being believable with his good comic timing which is in the serious need of a better film.
As far as I can see, “Deadpool” is intended as a naughty parody of superhero films, but this is not a good parody because it fails to hit hard its genre conventions and instead becomes merely a more violent and unpleasant superhero movie in the end. Sure, you can make any jokes about superheroes, but, folks, they are inherently jokes no matter how serious they are, and there is not much point in making a fun of jokes themselves.