Ryan Reynolds goes for the Robert Downey Jnr school of super hero smugness in Deadpool**, a film that thinks it’s far more fun than it actually is.
Indeed, the opening credits are probably its best moment, a freeze frame of carnage, blood, bullets and violence over and around which are displayed captions such as ”A Hot Chick”; “A British Villain”; “A CGI character”.
This knowingness never lets up, reaching an apogee when Reynold’s red-clad avenger addresses the audience within a flashback and says: “Oh, a 4th wall-break within a 4th wall-break- that’s like 16 walls…”
But smart self-reflexiveness and pop culture riffing doesn’t make it funny. It quickly becomes tiresome, particularly when the core of the story is carelessly violent rather than cartoonishly, and there really is nothing at stake to differentiate the super hero from the super villain. Nobody’s super any more, so what’s the point?
In fact, although Reynolds’ Deadpool quickly admits “I may be Super but I’m not a hero,” I’m not quite sure what his power is. He can leap and fight and use samurai swords and he can take bullets and regrow a severed limb, but some of that he could do before the experiment thingy the baddie Ajax (Ed Skrein, a petri-dish-grown Jason Statham replacement) did on him.
Not to say there aren’t moments of clever, even witty, writing amid the bitchy repartee, slicing, crashing and slashing. But there as many plot holes as there are bullet holes, the most glaring of which is: why can’t Reynolds heal his burned face when his super power is the ability to heal quickly?
Constantly referring to its X-Men credentials and with the statutory cameo from Stan Lee (as a DJ in a strip club), Deadpool seems ruinously keen to point out his own status as a very minor Marvel. He’s got that right.