Deadpool falls short because it brings nothing fresh to the table and has a sense of humor that I can’t imagine is all that appealing to most audiences.
Deadpool has been a long gestating project ever since Ryan Reynolds stepped into the role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the version of the film we ultimately got jettisoned everything we know about the character on the big screen. This film is a complete reboot of the character to implement a more authentic comic book origin. Deadpool tells the story of Wade Wilson, an ex-special forces mercenary for hire, who is diagnosed with cancer, as he enrolls in a mutant program with the hopes of healing himself so he can continue to be with the love of his life, Vanessa. The mutation ends up disfiguring Wade, so instead of returning to Vanessa he decides to hunt down the man who did this to him with the hopes of having his disfigurement reversed.
My intro makes it seem like I am super down on Deadpool, it’s fine, but I’m finding it hard to see what the fuss is all about that set this film ablaze at the box office and with audiences. Writing this review a month after release leads to a more reactionary dialogue, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where all the hype came from for this film. Yes, I get that it has R-rated language and violence, but Deadpool isn’t revolutionary in that department when it comes to comic book films, and it certainly pales in comparison to most action films. Yes, the humor is irreverent, but, again, nothing revolutionary here. In fact, I would say only about 20% of the jokes worked and that isn’t a very good average; even for a film that has a joke almost every other line. I found the humor quite immature, actually.
The structure is the closest thing to feeling new, flashing back and forth between Deadpool’s origin and his first attempt at claiming revenge on the British villain, but outside the opening action car chase there isn’t a whole lot working in the extended set piece we keep jumping in and out of. I was shocked at the lack of action in Deadpool, which ultimately has a short set piece at the front and back of the film, a very brief fight in the middle, and one montage of Deadpool beating up a bunch of people. For a guy who is a great shot and wields a couple of katana blades, we didn’t get nearly as much crazy action as one would expect out of Deadpool.
All of this would be fine if the pieces around the endless string of mediocre jokes and bookending set pieces were really great, but the only thing I found myself enjoying was the relationship between Wade and Vanessa. This has a lot to do with Morena Baccarin being so damn good, but once Wade gets cancer Vanessa is pretty much abandoned until the film’s final act. Baccarin could have easily been given her own plot running parallel to Deadpool’s montage filled quest for British bad guy that would have buffed up the film’s plot and Vanessa’s role. Everybody is surface level here, Negasonic Teenage Warhead is barely existent, and it’s amazing that a film where basically nothing happens that the characters aren’t more interesting.
Deadpool can be entertaining at times, but there are a ton of shortcomings running through this thing. Reynolds is likable, as always, and Baccarin is almost great, but they can’t elevate the film to anything above average. Maybe you needed this R-rated change of pace in your comic book movie going experience, but deeper characters and fresh plotting would be preferable, no matter the genre, and Deadpool can’t deliver on that; or the laughs.