In this day and age, seeing an R-rated comic book movie is a rarity. Most movies that appeal to a large audience almost always try to force a PG-13 rating no matter if the material would work better as an R-rated movie, with an F-word allowance greater than one. For some movies the PG-13 rating works with the movie. 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” was a fun movie that was good despite obviously restricting itself to a PG-13 rating. But with other movies, such as “The Hunger Games,” the movies suffer from being unable to effectively explore the world of the material in a way because the creators of the movie are purposely restricting themselves to a PG-13 rating.
Then there are movies like “Deadpool.” Imagining this movie without the R-rating would be like imagining “Lord of the Rings” without Hobbits. The movie uses the R-rating to its full extent, and it is all the better because of it. Hopefully “Deadpool” can prove that movies don’t need to be PG-13 to be successful.
“Deadpool” is the result of supposedly leaked test footage that came out in the summer of 2014. The scene depicted in the test footage is actually still in the movie, almost shot-for-shot. The movie is directed by Tim Miller in his first major directorial effort. With Ryan Reynolds in the lead as Deadpool/Wade Wilson. Reynolds is obviously the star of the show, but the supporting actors all deserve credit. The supporting cast make many of the jokes in the film hit the mark when one lukewarm performance could derail a whole scene.
The movie is consistently funny, never takes itself too seriously and breaks the fourth wall to great comedic effect. The fourth wall-breaks are particularly noteworthy. Not only are they used for Deadpool to poke fun at the plot, but they are also used as a sort of framing device for the narrative that adds some much needed freshness to what is essentially an origins story. That being said, be warned: If fourth-wall breaks aren’t your thing, or if you get aggravated by constant banter by a lead character, then this movie is not for you.
“Deadpool” was written by the duo behind 2009’s “Zombieland”–Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick–and you can tell. More often than not, the jokes will land and leave you grimacing. Deadpool’s constant wisecracks also deftly walk the line between funny and annoying, without ever teetering over into the annoying side for too long. One expertly edited montage halfway through the movie left me in tears because of the combination of both the sheer ridiculousness of the events in the montage and Deadpool’s hilarious commentary.
The reason Deadpool’s continuous commentary works so well is due in part because of Ryan Reynold’s excellent performance. I honestly can’t think of anyone that can pull off the constant banter and dialogue with the audience as well as Reynolds did. Not only does Reynolds prove that his other sub-par superhero performances were flukes, but that he is the perfect actor to play Deadpool.
All this being said, I can’t really call “Deadpool” a great movie. There is still something slightly off about it. What would be fair to say is to say that “Deadpool” is a great movie experience. When the movie is good, such as in the action scenes or the more fast-paced scenes, it’s good. The action scenes are fun and well choreographed, and when there isn’t action happening on screen, there is usually something comedic happening to keep your attention. Then there are the other scenes. There is a romantic plot that drives the movie’s narrative, and while it’s not the worst part of the movie; not all of it really helped the film. It’s not a binary distinction between romance and the rest of the film; to the writer’s’ credit they do try to blend comedy into the romance plot, but it definitely fizzles out as the movie continues.
The other big gripe I had with the film is that the antagonist is unusually boring and completely forgettable. For a movie that uses parody as much as “Deadpool,” one would think that the villain would have some sort of ridiculous quality to them to poke fun at the archetype. For example, Samuel L. Jackson has a lisp in “Kingsman: the Secret Service” and the entire character of Dr. Evil in the “Austin Powers” series is ridiculous. We are able to poke fun at these typical movie villains because of these quirks. But not in “Deadpool.” The villain we get in here is so generic that he could have been replaced by any of the hundreds of goons Deadpool squares off against in this movie.
Other than those two big gripes, there isn’t much that derails the movie. The CGI in some of the action scenes suffers from looking out of place; when one of the characters gets thrown, they fly through the air too fast for it to be real and it just looks odd. Also, some of Deadpool’s jokes just don’t land, and it is awkward when this happens. Thankfully, the jokes per minute rate in this movie is off the charts so any bad jokes are quickly forgotten for ones that actually do hit the mark.
“Deadpool” is a movie in the same league as movies like “Equilibrium,” “Starship Troopers,” and “Blade”; enjoyable movies, but not necessarily good movies. There is definitely entertainment value but not as much lasting substance. There are some parts that could have pushed “Deadpool” beyond parody and into the territory of an actually solid movie, but those parts of the movie are unfortunately the worst parts of the movie. Fortunately, the parts that are good are funny; just don’t expect these scenes, or the movie as a whole, to get better with age.
Just know what you’re getting into when you go to this movie. Don’t expect the next “Kingsman: the Secret Service,” a parody movie that stands on its own as a solid movie. “Deadpool,” instead relies instead on a combination of action, jokes and starpower. Do expect however, to have a fun time at the movie theater, buy some popcorn, turn your brain off and get ready to laugh.