Deadpool (2016)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 2/15/16
Director: Tim Miller
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Gina Carano, cameos by Taylor Hickson, Stan Lee

A timeless tale of love and revenge. Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a former Special Forces soldier who now eeks out a living as low-rent mercenary. A chance meeting with a hooker named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) leads to an unexpected whirlwind romance, as these two messed up people find a perfect match in each other. Unfortunately, Wade discovers that he has terminal cancer and decides to leave Vanessa and undergo a dangerous and highly illegal procedure that turns him into a self-healing mutant. However, it also leaves him looking like an extreme burn victim. Realizing too late that he's been played as a pawn by the nefarious Ajax (Ed Skrein), Wade seeks revenge as the costumed vigilante Deadpool in an attempt to regain his face and return to Vanessa.

"Deadpool's" crude mix of sex, violence, romance, and humor won't appeal to everyone, but I found it pleasantly refreshing and enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting to. Ryan Reynolds absolutely kills it as Deadpool, and it's the role he was born to play. Morena Baccarin is feisty, playful, headstrong, and drop-dead gorgeous, which perfectly complements Wade's character. You really do feel the love and warmth between Wade and Vanessa, which makes the romantic aspect of the film oddly satisfying, and gives real emotional weight to Wade's actions. As fucked up as he is, Deadpool is motivated solely by love, and Reynolds delivers an impassioned and emotionally rich performance.

Due to an agreement with Marvel Studios, Fox was allowed to use characters from "X-Men," so Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) make a guest appearance to help Deadpool put an end to Ajax's mutant factory. The action scenes are surprisingly good and very exciting. The fight choreography is excellent and Deadpool's ridiculously flashy acrobatic style is executed to great effect. Pro fighter Gina Carano shows up as a villain named Angel Dust and has an amusingly over-the-top brawl with Colossus, which is a lot of fun to watch. There's obviously a lot of CGI imagery involved to create the outrageous action sequences, but it works well within the equally outrageous context of the film. Perhaps the film's greatest achievement is that computer animation has finally evolved to the point where blank white superhero eyes can effectively emote both seamlessly and realistically.

The humor is uneven and across the board, but some of it is quite clever. Deadpool's signature comic book move is breaking the fourth wall with his inane banter, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. Fortunately, that gimmick isn't overused. T.J. Miller delivers the funniest lines in the film with his disaffected deadpan, and the soundtrack is a hilarious collection of 80's ballads including Juice Newton's "Angel Of The Morning" and Wham's "Careless Whispers." Some of the best parts are the obscure pop culture references and Reynolds' endearing brand of self-deprecating self-awareness. Yes, Deadpool is a crude, violent, and morally corrupt douche-bag, but he's also vulnerable, self-loathing, and capable of incredible acts of love, kindness, and justice. He may not be a hero, but we cheer him on all the same.

Favorite line: "Do you think Ryan Reynolds got his career from his superior acting method? No. Looks are everything!"