I, for one, never thought there could ever be a more sarcastic super hero than Spider-Man, but boy, was I mistaken. Tim Miller, in his directorial debut (although he was creative supervisor on “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) finally finishes up, Deadpool, a concept nearly eight years in the can. Deadpool, a character created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza in 1991 as part of the “X-Men”/“X-Force” universe, was a special forces soldier who is diagnosed with terminal cancer and then saved by a truly mad scientist, Ajax. He is so jaded and decidedly acerbic that he makes Bill Murray in “Scrooged” seem like Dr. Ben Carson (shameless current event plug most intended).
This R-rated superhero film (joining the ranks of 2004’s “Blade: Trinity,” 2008’s “Punisher: War Zone” and 2009’s “Watchmen”) starring Ryan Reynolds (“Mississippi Grind”), T.J. Miller (“Transformers: Age of Extinction”), Ed Skrein (so terrible in “The Transporter Refueled”), Morena Baccarin (“Gotham” and “Homeland” TV series) and Brianna Hildebrand (“First Girl I Loved”), among others, is unabashedly violent, delightfully obscene and gleefully sardonic with enough gore to please Sam Peckinpah and give Quentin Tarantino an orgasm. The fun begins with the opening credit roll, which reads “Writers: The Real Heroes Here; Producers: Asshats; and Directed By; Some Overpaid Tool.” After that, the entire enterprise — full of torture, blood, death and one-liners — reminds one of a feature film by the creators of “Honest Trailers.”
Here, we meet Deadpool/Wade Wilson (Reynolds) who destroys and dismembers the bad guys with seemingly effortless effort, but meets his match against his “X-Men” friends, Colossus (voice of Stefan Kapicic, “Big Miracle”) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Hildebrand), who unwittingly allow the target of his revenge to escape. This is followed with one of many of his asides to the audience explaining the backstory: Wade leads a life of small-time mercenarism (is that actually a word?!) frightening lowlife stalkers and hanging out with his only friend, the bartender (stand-up comedian Miller) at a cheap dive.
Later, he meets exotic dancer (i.e., stripper) Vanessa (Baccarin), who falls in love with the big lug. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, Wade becomes a cancer victim and resigns himself to an early demise. He then meets a creepy recruiter (Jed Rees, “Funeral Day,” but better known as one of the mentally-challenged athletes in “The Ringer”) who promises his affliction will be cured. That’s where we meet Francis/Ajax (Skrein), who, along with sidekick Angel Dust (Gina Carano, “Fast & Furious 6”), informs Wade that he is a pawn in a much larger game and then taunts and tortures his victim until he becomes a self-made mutant (remember, this character does have “X-Men” roots) and a nearly immortal super (sarcastic) hero.
After escaping from this Hell, he consults with his barkeep bud, but cannot show his face (which has suffered under his ordeal until he looks like John Malkovich after a good beating) to Vanessa. That’s okay, however, because she is soon kidnapped by the baddies and taken aboard some kind of dilapidated aircraft carrier. With his “X-Men” sidekicks, Deadpool does his best to save the day, as well as his squeeze and the film franchise for separate sequels or inclusion in other group character features.
Deadpool brings the character to life in a way that amounts to a shot of adrenaline to a genre that has been set on cruise control, (which 20th Century Fox is partially to blame for with what they’ve done with “Fantastic Four” and the “X-Men” franchise). Hell, they very nearly destroyed the Deadpool character before he even had a chance to begin when he was unceremoniously dropped into “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” However, through the tenacity of Reynolds, and a timely leak of test footage, fans of the character have finally gotten their anti-hero in all his glory. A glory made all the better by Reynolds who is spot-on perfect as the disillusioned and bitter hero. There is no doubt this role was written specifically with him in mind. This role with its off-the-cuff one-liners, meta observations and physicality may represent Reynolds’ best comedic/action/drama/thriller outing to date.
Others who stand out are Skrein as the villain who feels no pain, and Miller, as the friend of the hero who causes plenty with some groaning jokes, which sometimes miss by a mile. Fear not, though, because there are so many quick puns (from comments on the current bloody battles in the movie to roasting other films in the comic book galaxy — including a few well-timed zingers regarding Reynolds’ own disastrous “Green Lantern” experience). And, as usual, there is the always-anticipated cameo by Stan Lee (who ironically had nothing to do with this character), probably one of the best he’s ever been in. It all adds up to violently entertaining movie that stands to (and rightfully so) break February box office records.