It may only be the third week of February, but I think this film will count as one of the most surprising films of 2016.
There is a reason why Director Tim Miller’s Deadpool set a box office record for an “R” rated film during its first weekend of release. It goes where no Marvel lead character has ever gone before. It is a creative, pungent and unique piece of film making. The movie engages in a profane, very funny satire of super hero movies from the opening credits to the appearance of our star for a few quick barbs as the the closing credits wind to a conclusion.
Let me advise you from the beginning that this is not a movie that you will want to take kids to see. It deserves its “R” rating, and the language is what I would characterize as Tarantino-esque while you also see naked men and women cavorting in various scenes. Anyone taking a child under 16 without a warning will likely end up quickly saying, “What in the Hell have I done?”
Yet that is not a criticism, but an alert. This is a screamingly amusing adult film on multiple levels. Everyone and everything is repeatedly dismissed in flowing verbiage that consumes four-letter words. It is not an exaggeration to say that you will be repeatedly left laughing despite the fact that graphic violence permeates the entire film.
Ryan Reynolds plays Deadpool, an officious bad boy with an attitude who finally finds the love of his life (Morena Baccarin) only to discover that he has cancer. His life then becomes changed forever when he desperately seeks a cure.
The man in charge of his “operation” has the moral conscience of the World War II Nazi physician Dr. Mengele. Having changed his name from Francis to Ajax, which ironically becomes important to the plot, and played in memorable fashion by Ed Skrein, Reynolds facial and body features are scarred forever. Let me just say that he resembles what many Japanese citizens were looking like after living through the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In summary, Reynolds is transformed into the title character, a scarred man whose body will now automatically heal following any physical injury. He is dedicated to one end, namely to hunt down and kill Ajax and anyone who tries to help him.
The special effects show violent encounters, building collapses and car chases that are stunning. However, it is here that the movie displays the genius of screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick as Reynolds and his supporting cast use mockery as a cinematic artistic form.
Reynolds goes where no super hero character has ever gone before in that there are occasions when he will stop and address the camera. He does so to make fun of numerous previous films ranging from Lord of the Rings to X-Men, and the movie ends up functioning as an ongoing comedy skit as brutally funny as anything you are have ever seen on Saturday Night Live over the years.
The film is also helped by some wonderful performances from supporting characters. That begins with Ms. Baccarin, who displays a nasty streak while falling in love with Deadpool. T.J. Miller has a memorable role as the bartender Weasel, a guy who wants to help Deadpool as long as it isn’t overly inconvenient. Finally, while I have already mentioned Mr. Skrein as Ajax, he is a memorable villain who you won’t forget.
Reynolds is not a super hero but more of an antihero, and he is forced to wear a cheap Spiderman-like outfit simply to hide his disfigurement. Even as Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and a lovable Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) try to convince him to join the functional equivalent of X-Men and become dedicated to truth and justice, Deadpool consistently dismisses it as involving too much effort.
What is truly wonderful about this movie is that Mr. Reynolds has finally found a role that allows him to display his many great talents. Though he was really good in the overlooked Definitely, Maybe (2008), he has been in a series of forgettable roles ranging from X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), the very regrettable The Proposal (2009), the equally outlandish Green Lantern (2011) and a film that few saw with good reason, R.I.P.D. (2013). He was an executive producer of this film and maybe he should make sure that he does the same thing in future films.
I can acknowledge without embarrassment that I saw Deadpool twice in three days, the last time being with my son and grandson, who is 17. I wanted the lad to remember a moment where he went to an “R” rated movie and laughed as loud as his grandfather.