Film review: ‘Deadpool’ kicks ass, takes name

Feb. 12, 2016, 2:57 a.m.

“Deadpool” is stupid, hard-R rated fun. It’s a blast of fresh air in a genre that is becoming increasingly convoluted and sanctimonious.

The plot of the film is basically a conventional origin story. Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a seemingly normal man, is given superpowers when a scientific experiment goes horribly wrong. Coping with his new life, Wade creates a secret identity, an act that puts a strain on his ability to connect with his girlfriend (Morena Baccarin).

In a lot of ways the plot of “Deadpool” is just like that of “The Amazing Spider-Man” — if Peter Parker were a hitman instead of a high-school student and if Spider-Man used his powers for bloody vengeance instead of justice. Also, in contrast to “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Deadpool” is actually entertaining. After countless summers of people developing incredible powers, only to mope about saving the “city” or “humanity,” it’s incredibly refreshing to watch a hero whose main concern is that his powers have left him “totally unfuckable.”

Real credit here goes to Ryan Reynolds. It would perhaps be hyperbolic to say that this was the role Reynolds was born to play, but considering the comic book iteration of Deadpool has asked to be played by Ryan Reynolds, this is basically the role Reynolds was born to play. Needless to say, he nails it. His Deadpool strikes the perfect balance between acerbic smartass and comic doofus. Reynolds is as willing to make his Wade the butt of the joke as he is to insult someone else. He can be mean, but he never seems mean-spirited. It’s a skill Reynolds has perfected, honing it since his early days starring as the requisite jerk in stoner comedies.

But Reynolds hasn’t done anything resembling “Van Wilder” in quite some time. He actually comes to “Deadpool” after acting in a string of small indie dramas, and these seem to have done wonders for his range. Wade Wilson’s pain might be petty, but it’s always real. A movie about a wise-ass knowingly commenting on superhero tropes would never be able to sustain itself past ten minutes.  A movie about a wise-ass finally letting his guard down, only to be separated from the woman he loves: That has potential. And it’s a testament to Reynold’s skill that he can convincingly move between both without missing a beat.   

Ultimately “Deadpool” is not a deconstruction of the superhero genre, à la “Kick-Ass” or “Super”. This is a superhero film that sticks to familiar beats while keeping its narrative at an ironic distance (except for its remarkably well-done love-story). It’s funny. It’s action-packed. It’s surprisingly touching. It’s a film that knows its audience and does everything it can to please them. In fact, this might be the last superhero film to earn a sequel the old-fashioned way: by popular demand. Rest assured, however. This is the only old-fashioned thing about it.
Contact Raymond Maspons at raymondm ‘at’

Raymond Maspons is a class of 2017 Film & Media Studies major. He was raised in Miami, but born in Los Angeles. One of his particular interests is the unique and subversive thematic or formal qualities that often appear in genre films. Since elementary school he has spent a significantly large amount of his life watching movies and television, and not doing trivial things like homework.

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