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I’m sure that Deadpool isn’t the first post-modern comic book movie, but I’m sure it has to be one of the most obvious ones, one that absolutely revels and glows in all its post-modernism glory. It not only feels as if it comments on such films, it feels as if it comments on comments on such films.
The style and tone is set by the opening credits which aren’t made up of the names of the people who actually did what the credits claim they do, but are more generically described. I don’t remember them exactly, but there was God’s Perfect Idiot as the star; The Obligatory Cameo; Asshats as the producers, and perhaps my favorites, the Screenplay is by the Real Heroes of the Movie, while the direction is by an Overpaid Tool.
One problem for so many comic book films like this is how to be both an origin story and a complete story until itself. The writers here, partners Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, have solved this somewhat elegantly by having a non-linear structure. After opening with an over the top fight scene that is both witty and somewhat dispiriting in its callousness toward human life, Deadpool takes over telling the story, both the story of how he came to be as well as his hunting down the mad doctor Ajax who made him the way he is, and stop his bid for, what else, world domination.
Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool (he is also one of the producers, so I guess he is also an asshat) and the part plays to his strengths. Never a great actor, Ryan was expert at getting laughs by underacting. It plays to his ability to be snarky and funny without alienating the audience. And he attacks the part with a lot of gusto and more than a hint of fluid sexuality (though I can’t quite see them taking the part and going there).
The dialog ranges from crude to wittily profane to a bit “aren’t I a naught boy” bon mots. And it never stops. Just like the story and the direction (by Tim Miller, his first feature). It has a marvelous build and if the action doesn’t get you going, the next wise crack will.
And Reynolds is surrounded by a first rate supporting cast (many of them sort of familiar, you think you’ve seem them somewhere, but you’re just not sure). Morena Baccarin is tough girl sexy as Vanessa, Deadpool’s girlfriend; Ed Skrein is filled with the joy of his psychotic sociopathology (and he has an English accent, of course) as Ajax; T.J. Miller is shaggy dog adorable as best friend Weasel; Leslie Uggams as Deadpool’s seeing impaired roommate (I’m not sure that a blind person was the bunt of so many jokes since the W.C. Fields movie, It’s a Gift); and Stefan Kapicic and Brinna Hildebrand are the only two X-Men the budget could afford.
The only thing missing here, perhaps, is the lack of a major star from when you parents grew up (like Robert Redford in Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Too bad. I can just imagine the jokes that would made at their expense.
Though Deadpool is very entertaining and has a high octane pull to it, and though I welcome a sequel, I do think the film doesn’t quite rise to the heights one might wish. Though ahead of most superhero stories, it still falls short of such entries as The Dark Knight and Ironman.
I’m not sure why. It could be that as funny and enjoyable as Reynolds, he’s still no Robert Downey, Jr. And the movie may just be a bit too proud of itself (it sometimes feels like a Ricky Gervais routine at the Golden Globes where he delivers a killer line, then acts surprised at the way people react).
Still, it’s a ton of fun, is often clever and very well produced.