There’s plenty that’s fun about Deadpool, whether one is a Marvel Comics aficionado or not, and among these are Ryan Reynolds’ self-deprecating willingness to dabble in risqué humour, and his frequent breaking of the fourth wall to make self-referential gags cleverly concocted by the same screenwriters who delivered the very smart Zombieland.
But to those who are new to Deadpool, the anti-hero who refuses to “use his powers for good!” and doesn’t want to join the X-Men, this long-awaited comic book adaptation is nothing much to write home about, so perhaps that means the true fans will enjoy it all the more.
In keeping with most heroes of the graphic novel persuasion, Deadpool is an ordinary human, albeit a small-time mercenary with a gorgeous girlfriend (Homeland’s Morena Baccarin), before events best unspoiled here turn him into an avenging, red-suited cynic. His trajectory could provide some of the more emotional moments in the film, only they are undercut by a wry gag or in-joke before we can feel the poignancy. Because that’s how Deadpool rolls – he’s all gags, all the time (some hilarious, some surprisingly esoteric). Gags and a lot of killing. Usually in slow-motion.
Granted, Deadpool is endlessly good-humoured, far less violent/graphic/obscene than its R18 rating would suggest (I certainly found it less offensive than Kingsmen), and Reynolds’ charisma goes a long way. There are delightful musical cues and Silcon Valley’s T. J. Miller is a stand-out as the wryly unhelpful best friend. But the British villain is non-ironically bog-standard, and even acknowledging its own budgetary restraints (Deadpool tells the audience they could only afford two X-Men characters, but unfortunately the lack of them is felt) doesn’t exonerate the film from feeling half-baked.
Overall it may sound terrific, and really Deadpool is a fun time. It’s just not going to blow anyone’s mind – at least, not metaphorically.