Check this out -- I'm doing a movie review on a movie that's not only in theaters now, it is premiering tonight! Siskel & Ebert? pfooey!
Anyway, if you're an adult like me (why are you laughing?) and a comic fan, you've probably found any number of the many comic adaptations to be a bitter disappointment, either by eviscerating the mythology of the characters, or the watered-down intensity of the theatrical release in comparison to the comic itself.
After fanboys rioted over the portrayal of Deadpool in the X-Men origins story a few years back, Ryan Reynolds got together with a writer and director and talked about the potential of a movie that hewed more closely to the outrageous character of the comic version of Deadpool. They worked hard, going for an R rating right out of the gate and the result is in theaters now.
So here we go:
If you've seen any of the trailers, you've got the basic backstory and plot. It goes a bit like this -- Wade Wilson is a former special ops soldier, discharged (dishonorably?) from the service, he now works as a mercenary. Not one of the high-profile romanticized types who overthrow governments and do daring rescue operations around the world . . . no, Wilson is more of a hired muscle kind of guy. The sort who takes whatever a woman can scrape together and then goes and puts the fear of God into some dude who's been stalking/harassing her. The frightening insanity of his approach seems to do wonders in this.
He hangs/works out of an underground bar sort of place -- think the basement club in the Continental from John Wick except without the classy music, booze, and clientele. The bar has a tote board on the wall, where the various mercs place bids on who will die next and aren't above setting a comrade up in order to win a few bucks.
Wilson meets a hooker named Vanessa, played by the wonderful Morena Baccarin, and after an awkward initial meeting find they are strikingly similar in humor and disposition. Their tastes in sardonic wit, sarcasm and raucous, raunchy sex has Wilson musing that he could have created Vanessa with a computer. Their year long courtship, set to the song Calendar Girl is often hilarious as various holidays are celebrated, sexually, with the appropriate form of intercourse. Chinese New Year? Uh oh, it's the Year of the Dog! You know where that's going.
And so on.
Life's perfect for Wade, so naturally, the sky falls on him. He gets cancer. With a capital C. Or as he refers to it "El Cancer" as they call it in Mexico. Despairing over his fate, Wilson gets a meet from a mysterious man. Played by Jed Rees, with his worminess dialed up to eleven, Agent Smith, as Wilson snarkily calls him, gives him the Six Million Dollar Man riff -- we can cure you, make you better, give you super powers, yada, yada . . .
After much anguished pondering, Wilson goes ahead with "The Cure." But of course, it's not that simple. The Cure may be worse than the cancer itself. And the torturous procedure is performed by two of those who have already gone through it. Ajax, an oily euro-trash sort, played by Ed Skrein, has increased strength and no pain receptors left in his body from the procedure. His assistant, Angel, played by a bulky Gina Carano, has nearly superhuman strength and may be slightly indestructible. Together they apply the procedure to Wilson with sadistic glee.
As Wilson endures, and continues to annoy the two with his smart-mouth wise cracks, Ajax and Angel begin to hope Wilson dies instead of passing through the entirety of the process. But he does not die. His survival leaves him nearly indestructible, he regenerates tissue and body parts at a hyper-accelerated pace. But his body and face are scarred nearly beyond recognition. As his friend Weasel, played by T.J. Miller, points out -- he's hauntingly ugly.
Wilson can't go back to Vanessa looking like a monster, so he sets out to find Ajax, who made an off-hand remark about being able to reverse Wilson's disfigurement.
From here on out, it's a story of Wilson, slowly morphing into the Deadpool character via the evolving costume, butchering his way through the mysterious organization's personnel on his way to Ajax himself. Along the way there, Deadpool runs afoul of the X-Men, in the persons of Colossus and his trainee Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Yeah . . . don't ask me.
The X-Men want Deadpool to use his abilities for good, stop killing people, and so on. He basically tells them to go f*ck themselves. It's not until late in the story, when Ajax kidnaps Vanessa to get leverage over him that Deadpool goes back to Colossus and enlists their help.
Pretty much everything there is found in the trailers, so I'm not spoiling anything for you if you're reading this. Plus, let's face it, this isn't The Sixth Sense, or The Usual Suspects or some movie with a big reveal at the end, it's an action flick based on a comic book. It's supposed to be a fun ride, and man, is it ever.
A bit about the tone of the movie. From the opening credits, literally (and I do mean literally), the irreverential tone for the movie is set. The writers and Reynolds poke fun at everything from Reynold's rep as a pretty boy, to his various turns in other superhero movies, with Green Lantern and the first incarnation of Deadpool getting a lot of brutal snark, to the X-Men and Hugh Jackman on multiple occasions. One of the things the comic version of Deadpool was known for was breaking the fourth wall, that is, speaking directly to the reader. You get that here in a variety of ways. Including the self-awareness that they're making a movie.
There's an exchange covered in Entertainment Weekly that illustrates this nicely. Colossus tells Deadpool at one point that they should "speak to Professor X" about his situation. Deadpool responds by asking if he means MacAvoy or Stewart because all the timelines make it confusing to know which one he means.
The fight scenes are gloriously brutal and bloody and messy. The cgi and special effects are pretty seamless with only a few instances where it's obvious they're using cg instead of actual folks. The Colossus character is entirely cg and voiced by Stefan Kapicic and is a high point for me. One of my many complaints with the X-Men movies is the ignoring of the Colossus character. Nice to see him fleshed out, so to speak, for an extended period of a movie.
There's a ton of bad language in the film, as I jokingly told one person, it should have a F*cking Language Warning! because it is salty beyond belief. There's also nudity, as in a long strip club scene, that has a cameo appearance that had folks in my theater actually applauding and plenty of simulated sex between Wilson and Vanessa. Like I said, they went R right out of the gate and didn't look back.
It's funny in a lot of ways, from sight gags to situations to just how Deadpool responds to things and the smart-ass stuff he says. There were plenty of times I had tears in my eyes I was laughing so hard during the movie. You can't take your young kids to this movie. Like the Watchmen movie a few years back (perhaps my favorite comic adaptation) this is an adult film made for adults but based on a comic book character.
It's a definite must see if you love this genre, and I highly recommend it.
A few small afterwords. At one point in the movie, Deadpool is living with a blind black lady he meets in a Laundromat. Watching the credits, I saw that the black lady was played by Leslie Uggams. Wow. You'd have to be as old as me to know who that is, but back in the 60s, she was on every television variety show there was. A singer, dancer, actress -- stage and screen, she was big time. What a fun place to see her turn up after all these years. They could have gotten anyone to play that role, I wonder why she was chosen.
Also, the director, Tim Miller, says there will definitely be a director's cut of the movie released with more violence, gore, etc. I cannot wait. The theatrical release is 1h 48m. I wonder how much more stuff didn't make it into the final edit. Also a Deadpool 2 is supposedly in the works.
There's also talk of bringing Deadpool back into the X-Men universe for future movies. With Disney in control of that francise, I cannot imagine how they could bring this character in without sanitizing it to the point where it loses it's identity. If that's the option, I hope it does not come to pass.
In lieu of a gallery of hotness, here's some character profiles released by the studio during the promotional run up to the premiere:
Did you find this review helpful? Check out my other reviews for my thoughts on the flicks and the occasional gallery of hotness that accompanies them: