Deadpool, film review: ‘Sassy, smart and sadistic’
17:26 11 February 2016
Its decision to break the fourth wall could backfire, but Marvel’s latest is a welcome apology for 2015’s awful Fantastic Four, says Michael Joyce.
Director: Tim Miller Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano and Brianna Hildebrand Film Length: 108 mins
The notion that Nobody Loves a Smart Arse is one that is disproved by popular culture on a daily basis. Audiences consistently respond to the presenter/ protagonist who is the smartest person in the room and isn’t shy of showing it. Nowhere is smartarsery more loved than in the Wonderful World of Marvel where almost every superpower acquisition comes with a complimentary mastery of the cutting putdown. Deadpool, our masked, red-suited Marvel super anti hero/ anti superhero has more deadpan wisecracks than a trilogy of Avengers movies, and a sensibility that is darker than anything else in spandex. When he hooks up with the love interest (Baccarin) their courtship is a variation of Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen sketch as they try to outdo each other with tales of their abusive childhoods. It’s also about a third of the size of most superhero films: nihilist self-ware masked mutant assassins being a chancy box office proposition.
It is alright to be sassy, sarky and sadistic, but Deadpool is also meta and audiences quickly become wary when someone breaks the fourth wall. Deadpool is something in the infinitely convoluted X-Men universe and at one point, while pondering meeting up with Professor X, he wonders whether it will be James McAvoy or Patrick Stewart. It’s one thing having Ferris Bueller talk directly to camera, but anything more than that and audiences can really turn on you. I can remember the great Fourth Wall Breaks of the early ‘90s when Arnie and Bruce tried to play self-aware, clever-clever games in big budget entertainments Last Action Hero and Hudson Hawk and were brutally slapped down by the paying public.
Deadpool is frantically, almost desperately inventive. It has more big laughs than most comedies I can remember from last year but it could perhaps have done with some variation – every quip and sight gap is in that same tone. If Fox intend it as an apology for last year’s botched Fantastic Four movie, then consider it accepted. Afterwards though I heard it compared to Kick Ass and that’s not a comparison it can live with: it’s dark, but in a flip way. It skims lightly over its dark mirror.
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