The Culture Column: Deadpool 8.5/10

Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), an atypically puerile mercenary, meets the girl of his dreams, sex worker Vanessa Carlysle (Homeland’s Morena Baccarin). And so begins one of the most depraved love stories in cinema. “This is a love story,” insists Wade. A string of wild romps later, Wade collapses, later learning that cancer in his liver, lungs, prostate and brain (or “all parts he can do without”) were the cause. In a drastic effort to cure himself and save their new life together, Wade undergoes unspeakable tortures to unlock dormant mutant abilities in his DNA (a la X-men). Disfigured and now indestructible, Wade escapes his fate as a super slave at the hands of Ajax (Ed Skrein).

In a flurry of anti-hero bluster, Deadpool seems sets out to humiliate the superhero genre, and nearly itself. How many dick jokes are too many dick jokes? How many times can the forth wall be broken? Well, “a forth wall break inside a forth wall break! That’s got to be like 16 walls.”  And I loved every one of those 16 walls. 

A little revision of the comic book/superhero movie genre will prove a useful strategy for most, particularly in understanding ‘Pool’s relentless mockery of X-Men, including Origins' frankly hideous Deadpool sins, which nearly killed the otherwise indestructible character. The film doesn’t let that one slide easily, actually- Hugh Jackman featuring (in name or paper form at least) as often as some of the main roles.

As you might have already guessed from the intro paragraph alone, Deadpool is disappointingly conventional in terms of its plot and the other characters, a fact that the opening credits (credits-ish) recognise: “A moody teen”, “a British villain”, “the comic relief”, etc. There’s almost enough weirdness elsewhere to offset this, but not entirely… an origins story? Another one, really? Does Deadpool really need a backstory- the guy is barely even human for a start. If Deadpool was ever going to shatter the genre like it could have and should have, it needed to go in another direction entirely.

The X-Men feature in the film, and not just through one-liners. Two X-Men to be exact; Collosus (Stefan Kapicic) and his trainee Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand)- “Best name ever” (Pool, D. 2016). They’re quite a fun addition to the cast that tie Deadpool neatly to the wider Marvel Universe. But, as the merc with the mouth quips, the studio’s tight budget probably had something to do with the fact that there’re just two of them.

Despite Collosus being portrayed in a refreshingly humorous light, his and Negasonic’s action sequences are irritatingly bit limp. Not so Deadpool’s, aside from a noticeably sparse soundtrack. Deadpool’s fight scenes, most of which were tainted by an over-comprehensive advertising campaign (stop doing that, by the way), are stylish and gory in equally generous helpings. Deadpool’s running commentary, like the countdown of bullets when bad-guys “have to share”, adds to the sadistic satisfaction.

So… Whilst it should probably be classified as a bit of a let down, I couldn’t help but love this film. Even with some seen-it-all-before directing, Renold’s portrayal of the left-field legend is endearing enough to forgive almost all of the flaws. Seriously, it could have been two hours of one liners and slapstick (which let’s be honest it almost was) and I’d have been just as thrilled. I only wish it was longer, and Deadpool had some better friends and bad guys to play with. Here’s hoping the sequel fills some gaps.

Verdict- I was all set to give it a solid 7.5. Middle of the road. Could do better. But after writing this I’m yearning to see it again, and that’s got to be worth something.