|Starring||Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, TJ Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand|
|Release||10 FEB (US) 12 FEB (UK) Certificate 15|
Tim Miller's Deadpool doesn't exactly play it safe, but it does fall into line when the whip is cracked. It is an affectionate ribbing; a playful nudge when nothing less than a headlock and a noogie will do. There's a fundamental flaw present in the screenplay, which has been knocking around since 2009, in that while it's free to mock superhero movies with gay abandon (the opening credits knowingly lists 'A Hot Chick' and 'A CGI Character' in its cast list), it cannot exist in the current Marvel/Fox stable without also adhering to its rules. Referencing a reliance on tired and dated plot points does not also excuse them.
It is both subversive and submissive, often in the same sentence. 'Pool makes a meta joke at the expense of the X-Men's confusing casting timelines ("Which Professor, McAvoy or Stewart?"), but is forever teasing the possibility of playing a larger part in the wider X-Men universe. The real punchline, I guess, is that at some point, if the movie ends up being as successful as the producers hope, they have to come up with an answer.
I liked Deadpool most when it was just being funny on its own terms. There's a sight gag involving one of Deadpool's regenerating limbs that manages to be both sweet and disgusting; a great 'deciding my superhero name' scene with an ace accompanying Lonely Island song; a brilliant fourth wall break within a fourth wall break ("That's like... 16 walls!"). Ryan Reynolds arguing with an old blind lady about the merits of various IKEA bookcases is not something you'll find in any other X-Men movies. More jokes hit than miss but there's still lots of padding with juvenile language: every other line is shit this and fuck that and suck this and cock that. Deadpool suffers from being a movie that feels like it craves your approval.
Amusing as such clowning can be, there's still the fairly rote origin story to tolerate, plus a healthy dose of un-ironic sexism (prostitutes, strip clubs, a gratuitous sex scene) that does tend to take the edge off. If Deadpool had been half as bold and inventive as its own marketing campaign, it'd have been a triumph: a middle finger to a stale movie genre that's getting mouldier by the month. As it is, Deadpool wants to have its cake and eat it but only succeeds in regurgitating the same old stuff we've been fed for years.