And you thought Tony Stark was a smart-ass. Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein and T. J. Miller star in Deadpool.

DeadpoolCast of Characters:
Wade Wilson/Deadpool – Ryan Reynolds
Vanessa Carlysle – Morena Baccarin
Francis Freeman/Ajax – Ed Skrein
Weasel – T. J. Miller
Angel Dust – Gina Carano
Negasonic Teenage Warhead – Brianna Hildebrand
Piotr Rasputin/Colossus – voiced by Stefan Kapicic
Blind Al – Leslie Uggams

Director – Tim Miller
Screenplay – Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick
Based on characters created by Fabian Nicieza & Rob Liefeld
Producer – Simon Kinberg, Ryan Reynolds & Lauren Shuler Donner
Rated R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity

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Smart-ass Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a former special forces operative turned New York mercenary who falls head over heels for escort Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin). Sparks fly between the two as their relationship grows, but after what should’ve been one of the happiest moments of their lives – their engagement – he’s given terrible news that he has terminal cancer. Though Vanessa wants to stick by her man ’til the end, his outlook isn’t so optimistic.

Despite his circumstances, Wade is offered a second chance when a recruiter from a secret program approaches him with an experimental cure for his cancer. Wade initially refuses the idea, but eventually decides to undergo the procedure. However, at the laboratory, Wade learns from the devious Ajax (Ed Skrein) that the true purpose behind the operation is to create and sell superhuman slaves. Wade, now Ajax’s prisoner, is cured of his cancer by way of a healing mutation, but is left severely disfigured as a side-effect.

Wade survives the ordeal and manages to escape, but when he learns that Ajax has kidnapped his beloved Vanessa, he teams up with two X-Men, Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic), to get his revenge.

Unlike those family friendly Marvel flicks, Deadpool comes attached with a giant, flashing “NO LITTLE ONES ALLOWED!!” disclaimer, and like its titular antihero, is highly unapologetic about the hard R-rating it’s achieved.

It’s not so much a subversion of the formula as it is a giant middle finger to it.

You may remember Ryan Reynolds was picked to play Deadpool in X-Men: Origins – Wolverine back in 2009. Oh, were the fans ever so excited to see Deadpool finally share the screen with Wolverine.

Then the movie came out and – uh – yeah.

If Fox had any trepidation in bringing Deadpool back to the big screen, it’s understandable. Fan favorite, the merc with a mouth may be, but X-Men: Origins was so poorly received by both critics and fans alike that it’d be no surprise if the studio buried every single aspect of that film and then placed a million mile distance in between them. But Fox managed to bounce back from that setback with X-Men: First Class, Days of Future Past and The Wolverine, the latter of which while the lesser of the three is a considerable improvement over its predecessor. Even with the critical and financial success of the prior two X-Men films, though, Deadpool owes its existence to its star. No one has pushed this film into being with as much passion as Ryan Reynolds, and I dare even say we wouldn’t even be talking about this film if not for his efforts in getting it green lit.

It’s kinda unfair to go the “as long as it’s better than X-Men: Origins” route here. One, being better isn’t that hard to do; two, despite the hype fans had for the character, Deadpool was nothing more than a fraction of that film. That said, those concerned Fox would drop the ball once again with their foul-mouthed property (you know, like stitching said foul mouth shut) need not worry, and all concerns seemed to have been already eased over by the clever marketing campaign from the studio.

The origin story to Deadpool really isn’t all the different from the other millions of different origin stories we’ve gotten from Fox, Marvel and DC’s properties. Flawed Joe Shmoe gets a chance to make his crummy life better; that backfires; those behind his so-called “offer he can’t refuse” turn against him; and then he’s given a chance to redeem himself by becoming the superhero he was born to be.

We’ve seen it before, and we’ll sure see it again.

While the story may be standard stuff, the character of Deadpool is where the film finds its freshness. The self-awareness, the studio in-jokes, breaking the fourth-wall and the fact that Deadpool’s so unapologetically crude he makes Tony Stark look like a choir boy are what give the formula the invigorating kick in the crotch it needs (with the exception of the fourth-wall, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy shares a similar irreverence). Yes, they’re gimmicks, and in the wrong hands this could’ve been one giant eye-roll eliciting load of self-indulgent crap. So many of the things that work so well here could’ve gone so wrong, but director Tim Miller, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and a giving it his all Ryan Reynolds know when to wink at the camera and when to hold back. Of course, if you’ve seen even just half of the films promotional campaigns, you know you’re in store for a lot of winking, but Reynolds’s sells it 100% and then some with his performance.

Unlike the big tent-pole offerings from Marvel, DC or Fox’s X-Men franchise, Deadpool is backed by a considerably smaller budget, and at times it does show in the effects. Miller, though, compensates such limitations with the irreverent humor and some stylishly choreographed fight sequences. It’s easy to let an obviously animated looking Deadpool slide when the action setpieces, some just as funny as they are exciting, are this thrilling.

But no surprise, this film lives or dies by its star Ryan Reynolds. He pushed for its creation the hardest, so everyone was obviously putting the onus on him to deliver, and deliver he does. I’ve said before that Reynolds is an actor with boatloads of talent that unfortunately hasn’t been offered too many opportunities to showcase such talent successfully, but in the right project, he can shine. Clearly having the time of his life, Reynolds nails every joke just right and, despite his onscreen love interest Morena Baccarin (from TV’s Gotham) not getting much in terms of character development, the strong chemistry they share together compensate such shortcomings and help elevate the stakes.

And even though Deadpool by far is the Ryan Reynolds show, the star does get a strong backing from his supporting cast. As Ajax, Ed Skrein makes for an imposing villain and displays more sinister charm and presence in just half a scene than he did in the entirety of last year’s Transporter reboot. Gina Carano is equally bad-ass as his partner in crime, Angel Dust. Representing the X-Men franchise, Brianna Hildebrand and Stefan Kapicic (in voice only) are likeable sidekicks for the title anti-hero. T. J. Miller, whose surfer dude/stoner humor can grow irksome after a while (example – Transformers: Age of Extinction), provides some laughs as Wade’s bartender pal Weasel.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that this film is not for everyone, but those clamoring for a vulgar, uber-violent comic book film will find exactly what they’re looking for here. Led by an enthusiastic, fourth-wall shattering Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool is a funny, fast-paced and gleefully profane thrill ride that may not be as big as its surrounding comic book brethren, but its out of the gates swinging effort certainly gives it the legs to form what could be a very entertaining franchise.

I give Deadpool an A- (★★★½ ).

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