image** (out of five)

Not so much a superhero movie as a super-anti-hero movie, Deadpool follows a low-rent fixer / mercenary / goon named Wade (Ryan Reynolds) who, after being transformed into an extremely pussy, pimply, putrid version of himself (but with endlessly regenerative healing powers) by a grim British villain named Ajax (the creepily named Ed Skrein), decides his hot mercenary-catering prostitute girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) won’t like him anymore, so sets out for revenge. Extreme carnage follows.

Supposedly extremely faithful to the source comic, Deadpool is deliberately self-conscious, self-referential and self-absorbed, both as character and film. It wears it’s naughtiness with pride, reveling in its over the top violence and its lead character’s extremely obnoxious personality; it also couldn’t be more satisfied with “breaking the fourth wall” over and again, having Wade / Deadpool address the camera / audience directly, and repeatedly exposing the film’s own existence as a fictional artifice, such as referencing the actors James McEvoy, Patrick Stewart and Ryan Reynolds himself in the context of playing characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while being a movie within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Geddit? It takes great self-satisfaction with all of this, but a reference isn’t a joke, and I didn’t find Deadpool – the movie or the character – funny at all. Indeed, as the story descended into Just Another Origin Story, I grew increasingly bored and antsy. The whole thing is like one big fart joke – it’s that obvious and that juvenile (despite being widely heralded as “R-Rated”). If you’re a fan of the comic, I guess you’ll be thrilled that the film has so much integrity; by the third act, I couldn’t wait for it to end. It’s competently made, no doubt, and Reynolds has strong presence, even hidden behind a gimp mask that covers his eyes and his mouth. That mouth covering supposedly gave the filmmakers endless opportunities to tweak their hero’s wisecracks; pity they’re all rather lame.

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