After playing Hal Jordan in Green Lantern – widely considered to be a flop – in 2011, Ryan Reynolds trades his green suit for a red one in Deadpool, the eponymous foul-mouthed, antihero comic book character who has a tendency to break the fourth wall.
Directed by Tim Miller in his feature-film debut and based on a script written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (of Zombieland fame), the non-linear film, which exists in the same universe as the X-Men, fleshes out the origin of Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a mouthy former Special Forces operative turned sociopathic mercenary.
Unlike most superhero origin movies, Deadpool doesn’t waste our time with a long lead-up before the protagonist gets suited up. Instead, things get off to a hilarious and action-packed start when Wade, a year after his transformation, confronts and destroys a convoy escorting his nemesis, Ajax (Ed Skrein).
The film pauses mid-way in the carnage – a bullet lodged in the protagonist’s rear-end, no less – and jumps to his backstory, which is a classic story of love. Boy meets girl (in this case the sultry call-girl Vanessa, ably portrayed by Morena Baccarin) and they fall madly in love. He proposes, she accepts.
However, tragedy strikes. It’s revealed that Wade has final-stage cancer which has spread to most of his organs, leaving him with just a few weeks to live. Then, a sinister-looking man in a dark suit appears and offers him the opportunity of a lifetime: be cured of his cancer. The tradeoff? He needs to give up his body for experimentation.
Determined to live, Wade accepts. This is when things take a darker – but still hilarious – twist. The experimentation consists of round-the-clock torture, where he is subjected to enormous physical duress to activate his latent mutant DNA and be turned into a super-slave, to be sold to the highest bidder.
Overseeing the experimentation is Ed Skrein’s Ajax, assisted by his super- strong sidekick, Angel Dust (Gina Carano).
Back with a vengeance
Eventually, Wade’s latent mutant DNA is activated and he emerges as a mutant with an accelerated healing factor, which cures his cancer and anything else, really, from gunshot wounds to amputations. But, he is also left severely disfigured.
Afraid of going back to Vanessa in his current state, Wade, now Deadpool, after he was advised to put on a mask to protect his identity, spends the rest of the screen time hunting down Ajax in a bid to reverse his disfigurement and to exact revenge.
While the action scenes were fantastic, the real heart of the movie lies in Reynold’s portrayal of Deadpool. He is funny, witty and pulls off breaking the fourth wall, narration, profanity and depraved gags with an unfiltered glee and charm that isn’t shallow or cliché.
Reynold is joined by a superb supporting cast. This includes straight-laced Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) and his young trainee, the broody Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) from the X-Men as they aid Wade in his quest for revenge, as well as his roommate Blind Al (Leslie Uggams) who has to put up with Wade’s (mostly sexual) shenanigans.
With the prevalence of PG13 comic-book films – at last count, there are at least six such shows premiering this year – Deadpool is a refreshing and unique take on the genre. It is a must-watch for anyone who enjoys comedy- action flicks and who can appreciate schoolboy humour.
Verdict: I rate it a solid 9/11, as it was the bomb. (8/10)
Deadpool runs for 108 minutes, is playing in theatres now and is rated M18.
Viewer discretion is advised – there is violence, nudity and profanity aplenty.