It’s hard not to feel pleased for Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds and the gang delivered a fan-pleasing R-rated big screen solo outing for the Merc with a Mouth to much applause and a juicy $285m worldwide opening (on a $58m budget, no less). So it’s a shame that the film plays a lot better on paper than it does in a movie theatre.
It’s the character’s token infantile snark that works the best. This is the role Reynolds was born to play and he delivers the fourth wall breakers with aplomb. I did find myself missing a few too many punchlines, but I can’t say whether it was the theatre’s soft speakers, my bum hearing, an unbalanced sound mix or the whole masked muffle thing of not having the gift of lip reading. The chuckles are still suitably consistent, even if they don’t ever really break out into gut-busting belly laughs.
The action is drabber. As some have said, the opening action sequence (as featured in the test footage) is the film’s best and, beyond a game Reynolds, Tim Miller (director) simply offers the kind of splattery thrills we’ve already seen done better in Kick-Ass. The final showdown is unnecessarily bombastic, as the film falls into the same pitfalls as the very blockbusters it’s poking fun at, but Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead are welcome companions.
The by-the-numbers superhero narrative also comes across as a disappointment, with significant chunks of the origin story stuffing offering little. If only some more of that time had been spent on Wade Wilson’s love life. We never get much of a chance to really invest in Wade’s relationship with ex-hooker Vanessa. Both Reynolds and Morena Baccarin are more than game and they work well together, but the balance of the human heart and the larger than life (anti-)hero don’t gel as cohesively as one would’ve wanted.
Deadpool is a fun ride, and its success is a testament to the filmmaking team, Fox’s ace marketing department and the fan’s loyalty, but the finished film never really catches fire as it could have.