"I didn't ask to be super, and I'm not a hero," says Wade Wilson, also known as Deadpool. That's an understatement coming from a revenge-driven, loathsome joker—a supposedly witty Marvel character whose nonstop irreverence grows old fast. 1.5 out of 5.
Special Forces operative Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is stricken by cancer and loses his good looks when an attempted cure leaves him facially disfigured. Taking on the alter ego of Deadpool, the costumed hero teams with fellow mutants Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead to track down his nemesis, Ajax (Ed Skrein). He finds further camaraderie with—and assistance from—his bartending friend Weasel (T.J. Miller) and Wade's girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin).
Want Another Take? Watch our Video Review of Deadpool
There's not much more to the story of Deadpool, the latest Marvel film, which is defined mainly by a salacious, foul-mouthed jokiness that sets it apart—for better or worse—from the ponderous, bombastic Marvel movies that have dominated the box office during the past decade. This hard-R-rated take on the Marvel universe means Deadpool has closed off a sizable portion of its potential audience. Yet it should more than pass muster with audience members who find its title character’s quick "wit" and verbal sparring appealing. Will you be part of that group? Not if you're bothered by the barrage of foul language and stylized violence that often accompany Deadpool's wisecracks.
Reynolds, who has starred in instant franchise-killers like The Green Lantern, redefines his career in the role of a wisecracking, lewd jokester. Don't take that as an endorsement, but simply an acknowledgement that Reynolds pulls off the role and could very well be playing the title character in sequels for years to come.
Deadpool is a surprise, but mostly not in good ways. The title character's defining characteristic is an irreverence that gets old fast, as do the rapid-fire sexual jokes. The film seemed like it might be troubled given its winter release date and the historic box-office underperformance of its lead actor, but it does have a lot of energy. Alas, that energy is in service of a slight story defined primarily by how crude and in-your-face its humor is. By the time a character describes Deadpool as "relentlessly annoying," you might be feeling the same way about the movie overall.
Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes
Wade is told he can be made immortal, but the spiritual implications of immortality aren't discussed in any profound way.
CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers)
- MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity
- Language/Profanity: Lord's name taken in vain; crude language is used right from the opening credits, which refer to creative personnel behind the film as "a-shats," to a "d-uchebag"; goes downhill from there, with lots of lewd jokes and anatomical references; lots of f-words; pillow talk; mention of hookers; joke about "avocado sex."
- Sexuality/Nudity: Crotches are grabbed and punched; an offer to pay for sex; discussion of troubled upbringings includes references to molestations; an extended sex scene, some of which is played for laughs, includes exposed breasts and various shots of two people in different sexual positions; implied oral sex; bare male backside; joke about pedophilia; a man being tortured is shown naked in a cage; man on a toilet; reference to a sex toy; a comment about being pressured into having "prom sex."
- Violence/Frightening/Intense: A facial disfigurement; a man is kicked out of a car; guns loaded and fired; one bullet penetrates three heads; a man is impaled by bladed weapons; plenty of fighting, kicking, killing; sword to the head; scenes of torture.
Drugs/Alcohol: Drinking at a bar, including a request for a drink called a "blo-jo-": beer drinking; a woman says she misses cocaine; a mention of being "loaded on Percocet"; mention of a "crack house"
The Bottom Line
RECOMMENDED FOR: Marvel completists. Fans of fourth-wall breaking—where a character addresses the camera directly—also should get a kick out of Deadpool's use of that device.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Viewers sensitive to raunchy, violent, R-rated comedies and action films. Parents should know that this type of humor is catnip for teens, who may be looking to find a way into theaters playing Deadpool once they hear more about the movie from their friends.
Deadpool, directed by Tim Miller, opened in theaters February 12, 2016, available for home viewing May 10, 2016. It runs 108 minutes and stars Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, Gina Carano, T.J. Miller, Karan Soni, Stefan Kapicic, and Brianna Hildebrand. Watch the trailer for Deadpool here.
Christian Hamaker brings a background in both Religion (M.A., Reformed Theological Seminary) and Film/Popular Culture (B.A., Virginia Tech) to his reviews. He still has a collection of more than 100 laserdiscs, and for DVDs patronizes the local library. Streaming? What is this "streaming" of which you speak? He'll figure it out someday. Until then, his preferred viewing venue is a movie theater. Christian is happily married to Sarah, a parent coach and author of Hired@Home and Ending Sibling Rivalry.
Publication date: February 10, 2016