Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 48 min.
Our content ratings: Violence 6; Language 8; Sex 7/Nudity 2.
Our star rating (1-5): 4
What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity. There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil.
He said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power,
but by my spirit,” says the Lord of hosts.
If it were not for the high quality of the scripts, I would not be spending much time on the Marvel films. I prefer small dramas like Lady in the Van to superhero thrillers with their bloated budgets and characters loaded with super powers. But this one, like the others based on Marvel Comic’s stable of superheroes boasts a superb script. It’s protagonist who chooses the peculiar name in the title, frequently breaks through the “fourth wall” of drama, at one time skewering his opponent upon two sabers and saying to us, “You’re probably thinking ‘This is a superhero movie, but that guy in the suit just turned that other guy into a —-ing kebab.’ Surprise, this is a different kind of superhero story.”
In this origins story of how mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) becomes the superhero Deadpool, there is more humor than a dozen of the inane flicks that are intended to be funny but are so dumb that they insult our intelligence. This is a film that seemingly goes against humane values—the bad guys are killed off in every sort of gory way—but which is still fun to watch because you wonder what Deadpool will say to you next.
In various flashbacks the story of how Wade Wilson, in a botched experiment ghoulishly performed by Ajax (Ed Skrein), is transformed into a being with super powers of healing and being healed, along with great strength. However, the process disfigures his face so terribly that he breaks off with the new love of his life Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), the film then becoming a modern twist of Beauty and the Beast. Taking the name of Deadpool, he sets forth to wreak vengeance on Ajax. Along the way two X-men Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) are sent to put a stop to the chaos Deadpool and Ajax are creating. Wanting him to join the X-Men they bring him to Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters where he says mockingly, “Wow, this is such a big house, but I only ever see the two of you here. It’s like the studio didn’t have enough money for any more X-Men…” Colossus says, “You will come talk with professor Xavier,” and Deapool responds, referring to the two different actors who have portrayed Xavier, “McAvoy or Stewart? These timelines can get so confusing.”
Deadpool has fun not only referring to the X-Men films, but also several others as well:
-As Wade Wilson he says, “I had another Liam Neeson nightmare. I kidnapped his daughter and he just wasn’t having it.” He lies down in bed beside Vanessa, as he continues, “They made three of those movies. At some point you have to wonder if he’s just a bad parent. “
-When he first meets Negasonic Teenage Warlhead he comments on her shaved head, “Ripley from Alien 3!”
-When Colossus (at least I think it was he) handcuffs Deadpool’s wrist to his, the prisoner manages to take out a knife and saw off his own hand so he can drop away and escape, knowing that his healing powers eventually will grow a new hand. He says to the audience, “Did you ever see 127 Hours? Spoiler alert.
Near the film’s climax Deadpool really affirms his anti-superhero status when after a bruising fight, he looks down at the defeated Ajax and prepares to shoot him. Colossus appeals to him, “Wade! Four or five moments.” Deadpool, “Sorry?” Colossus appeals to Deadpool’s sense of nobility, “Four or five moments – that’s all it takes to become a hero. Everyone thinks it’s a full-time job. Wake up a hero. Brush your teeth a hero. Go to work a hero. Not true. Over a lifetime there are only four or five moments that really matter. Moments when you’re offered a choice to make a sacrifice, conquer a flaw, save a friend – spare an enemy. In these moments everything else falls away…” I will leave it for you to find out what Deadpool does in response.
There is one scene with Vanessa when our anti-superhero sounds like he is a student of the Book of Ecclesiastes. After she has agreed to marry him he says to us, “Here’s the thing. Life is an endless series of train wrecks with only brief commercial-like breaks of happiness. This had been the ultimate commercial break. Which meant it was time to return to our regularly scheduled programming.” If Deadpool were ever turn to the Bible, I suspect it would be this book that would most appeal to him. My enjoyment of this film filled with brutality, violence and cynicism thus must be considered a guilty pleasure. If you can lay aside your convictions for a couple of hours, you might find this good escapist fare.
This review will be in the April 2016 issue of VP with a set of discussion questions.