One thing that never survives this place is a sense of humor.
Oh, we’ll see about that.
Deadpool is a great movie. Deadpool is firing on all cylinders. It’s a pitch perfect action movie and a pitch perfect comedy. Why? A great cast, for one. Ryan Reynolds is a force of nature in the title role. I said last year that his turn as a charming, but unhappy gambler in Mississippi Grind was his best performance by far; well, now he’s bested that. It isn’t just his facility with profanity and comedy; he’s able to make us believe in Wade as a real person by nailing the more dramatic moments as well and by making us see the humor as the weapon, the sheer force of will, that it is. Morena Baccarin is a great love interest; she and Reynolds have great chemistry. T.J. Miller, a comedian that I’m gratified to see getting some solid movie work after loving him for years, is brilliant support. He has something like the most effective deadpan in comedy today and, where another actor would lean in and hit the lines hard, he leans back and delivers them with an unflappable, easygoing charm. His best scene, the one where he sees Wade’s disfigured face for the first time, should be required watching for all comedic actors; sometimes less really is more. A word for Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead; it’s a smart, natural performance; wherever this franchise goes, I hope it takes her with it. I’ve heard Ed Skrein get a lot of grief for being bland, but I found him quite effective in the crueler moments. Gina Carano is unfortunately wasted, but, oh, well.
Then there’s the great script and great direction. The movie is chomping at the bit to get to the hilarity; it can’t even wait until after the credits. The non-stop barrage of jokes could be annoying, but it isn’t. The joke to laugh ratio here is way better than a movie with this many jokes has any right to expect. In fact, this is the funniest movie I’ve seen in a good . . . I don’t know . . . three or four years easily. And I like the structuring of the film a lot. I think the way the movie leaps right into an action scene and then breaks that scene up with flashbacks to fill in the backstory is really well done. It allows that action scene to unspool at a hilariously slow pace so that all the jokes really land and it breaks up the origin story (often the weakest part of any movie of this kind) in order to keep it fresh and interesting.
This movie is, I’d say, the most purely entertaining movie to come out of the Marvel franchise to date and it has the smaller scale I’ve been waiting for. In a series made up of constant threats to the very existence of the world, it’s really fun and engaging to see a movie that’s essentially just about a quest for personal revenge. If the movie has a weakness, it’s also one of its strengths, namely the intensity of its mean-spiritedness. I suppose that, yes, I do find it troubling that the punchlines are often acts of really brutal and graphic violence. Late in the movie, there’s a scene where the joke is literally an unarmed & helpless man being shot in the face. It’s a bit discomfiting, I have to say, to hear a packed theater just roar with laughter when that happens. But, whatever, it’s also one of the film’s biggest strengths, the feeling that it’s relentlessly, gleefully offensive and brutal. In an era of increasingly unoffensive comic book movies, it’s unbelievably compelling to see one just go completely out of bounds as this one does. Just don’t take the kids; and to the credit of the audience in my theater at least, there wasn’t a single kid in the screening. But go yourself and while it’s in the theaters; the energy level and exuberance of the audience at my screening was through the roof, making this one of the best communal experiences I’ve ever had in a theater. But I’m going on and on, so, lest Deadpool shoot an unarmed man in the face again, I’m going to, well, not sew my mouth shut, but at least stop talking for now. Bottom line: perfection. 4 stars.
tl;dr – cast, direction, script: this movie is hitting on all cylinders; transgressive, offensive, vicious, gleeful and unbelievably hilarious, Deadpool is pure brilliance. 4 stars.