OUT now / CERT. 15 / 108 mins.

Empire (UK) - - IN CINEMAS - Jonathan Pile

Di­rec­tor Tim Miller cast Ryan Reynolds, Morena Bac­carin, Ed Skrein, Gina Carano

Plot Rid­dled with cancer, spe­cial forces op­er­a­tive-turned-mer­ce­nary Wade Wil­son (Reynolds) tries a rad­i­cal treat­ment with a use­ful side ef­fect: re­gen­er­a­tive pow­ers. And a bad one: se­vere dis­fig­ure­ment.

We have, of course, met ryan reynolds as Dead­pool be­fore — scrap­ping with hugh Jack­man’s Wolver­ine, re­tractable swords melded into his arms and, in a left­field cre­ative de­ci­sion, his mouth sewn shut. The “Merc With a Mouth” re­duced to sim­ply the merc, his rea­son for be­ing taken from him, the char­ac­ter ren­dered im­po­tent.

This Dead­pool is dif­fer­ent (and more like the comics) — talk­a­tive, quick-wit­ted (if knob gags can be classed as wit) and with a fond­ness for break­ing the fourth wall. The film’s set in the same uni­verse as the X-men fran­chise, but has an an­ar­chic spirit that sticks a mid­dle fin­ger up to Bryan singer’s oh-so-se­ri­ous sen­si­bil­i­ties. and smirks to it­self as it does so.

The film starts with Wade Wil­son al­ready hav­ing cho­sen his su­per-name, in cos­tume and mid­way through a scrap on a free­way. That’s in­ter­spersed with flash­backs show­ing him pre-dis­fig­ur­ing mu­ta­tion, fall­ing in love, be­ing di­ag­nosed with ter­mi­nal cancer, through to be­ing tor­tured by ed skrein’s main an­tag­o­nist ajax (named af­ter the clean­ing prod­uct). It’s a smart struc­ture, one that neatly side­steps the ma­jor is­sue with ori­gin sto­ries: the suited-up main at­trac­tion be­ing ab­sent for the first hour.

In this case, be­cause you don’t have time to dwell on it as it’s play­ing out be­fore you, it also dis­guises how slight the main mis­sion is (a fight, a kid­nap­ping, a res­cue at­tempt, roll cred­its). But Dead­pool is a per­fect ex­am­ple of a char­ac­ter who doesn’t need world-threat­en­ing dan­ger to foil. Wolver­ine or su­per­man re­quire some­thing in­ter­est­ing to do — for the most part, what Dead­pool is up to is less im­por­tant than the quips he makes as he’s do­ing it. of course, that means those quips had bet­ter be good.

and this is where the film isn’t en­tirely suc­cess­ful. It’s at its best in its mo­ments of meta-hu­mour — Dead­pool won­der­ing whether it’ll be James Mcavoy or Pa­trick ste­wart in charge at the X-mansion, or be­moan­ing the bud­getary rea­sons that mean the only two X-men he ever gets to ac­tu­ally meet are metal­lic gi­ant colos­sus (ste­fan Kapičić) and sullen young­ster Ne­ga­sonic Teenage War­head (Bri­anna hilde­brand). But its comedic cur­rency tends to the less cere­bral, and your re­ac­tion to the re­lent­less stream of jokes about mas­tur­ba­tion and oral sex will de­pend how high Van Wilder: Party Li­ai­son is on your list of favourite ryan reynolds films. (The closer to the top, the bet­ter, nat­u­rally.)

With comic-book films cur­rently so pop­u­lar, and af­ter Green Lantern failed to ig­nite a fran­chise for him, it’s ob­vi­ous why ryan reynolds has tried again. But in such a crowded mar­ket, the ques­tion is whether Dead­pool can make his smutty voice heard.

Ver­dict The sheer num­ber of dick jokes waved in your face will soon numb you to their im­pact, but this is a fun, if patchy, al­ter­na­tive to the cur­rent glut of ‘the world is about to end un­less we do some­thing’ comic-book films.

He would not bor­row the jack with­out ask­ing again.

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