Review: Deadpool Uses R-Rating to Build Character

By London Vayavong · March 15, 2016

Deadpool came about as a passion project by Ryan Reynolds who became enamored with the character after reading a line from one of the comics. The line stated that Deadpool shared a likeness to him and so he decided then and there that he wanted to perform as him on the big screen. He was finally able to do so in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and it was a train-wreck. Fortunately enough, many years later Ryan Reynolds was finally able to convince the studio to green-light another film. The difference this time is that he found people who actually cared about the project as much as he does.

Deadpool is a comic book film and it still follows many of the formulaic tropes associated with them but there is something special about it. The premise is simple enough because it is a revenge story with a romantic angle to it. The protagonist is Wade Wilson who is an honorable mercenary who finds love with a lovely prostitute. Unfortunately, he finds love at the wrong time since he is diagnosed with an incurable cancer shortly after. After some reflection he decides to undergo an experimental procedure from a shady organization that could save his life and grant him superhuman abilities. Of course, the next series of events take a tragic turn and he then decides to seek revenge against those who wronged him. 

The premise itself is straight forward and in the hands of another screenwriter might have led to a mediocre script. However, Deadpool has taken the seemingly asinine set up and created a fun thrill ride. The story is immensely humorous throughout while being complimented with visually captivating action scenes. There are many elements that are going well for the movie and the first part is the screenplay. The film has a non-stop barrage of jokes and it mainly comes from the lead Ryan Reynolds. One can tell that he worked closely with the writers and director to come up with some great material. The humor is a blend of satire, low-brow, and pop culture references. The film is rated R and the filmmakers did not shy away from adult themes. There are graphic sex scenes, nudity, language, and the violence and gore is played up for laughs. The most famous aspect of the Deadpool character is that he constantly breaks the fourth wall. In the comics, he is aware of his existence as a fictional character and he has plenty of fun with this fact. The film plays with this concept by having Deadpool address the audience and even do fun actions with the camera. For some it can be a little jarring and the jokes are morbid and dark but for others the experience will be non-stop laugh fest.

The action scenes are pretty standard but there are plenty of funny moments thrown in there as well to liven them up. Again, it is an important note that the film is rated R and unlike many other comic films the actions scenes are very gory. There would be moments when Deadpool was low on ammunition and he would need to plan out his fight. The result would be a barrage of humorous and well-timed death scenes. What is nice about the special effects is that it was never overbearing and it was fitted in nicely with the rest of the film. The movie never felt like a video game like so many others and there was just enough action scenes to level out the pacing.

While there is plenty to praise about with the film, there are still some criticisms. The script is creative but it still follows the aforementioned superhero movie formula. As a result of the formula, the story is pretty predictable if one has seen any other superhero film. The story is also mainly written for the Deadpool character and Ryan Reynolds does a phenomenal job. The rest of the cast do pretty good job as well and there are plenty of moments of obvious improvisation. That is with the exception of Gina Carano. It was a smart director's choice to not have her deliver many lines because every time she spoke it  was cringe-worthy. She definitely looked the part and she worked well during the physical scenes but there were just too many moments where she broke character. The final issue is the humor.  At times there are so many jokes that is hard to catch them all and there is not even enough time to laugh. For fans of Deadpool, they will be used to the non-stop jokes but for others it will be a little off-putting.

Deadpool has already broken many records, and has been celebrated for its risk-taking and creativity.  Many are touting that this film is finally opening the possibility for more R-rated superhero films. While this is a promising notion, studios should not believe that the R-rating will automatically make a great film. The R-rating worked for Deadpool because it enabled the filmmakers to fully implement the character and explore themes associated with him that would not work with a PG-13 rating. The film should be praised for its bundles of humor, well-paced action, and brilliant performance by Ryan Reynolds. In the end, what makes Deadpool work is not just the R-rating but the combined efforts of its creative and passionate filmmakers.