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‘Deadpool’ review: Ryan Reynolds can’t save the day in low-grade ‘X-Men’ movie

Horrors! Ryan Reynolds, left, reacts to Stefan Kapicic

Horrors! Ryan Reynolds, left, reacts to Stefan Kapicic in "Deadpool." Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox Film / Joe Lederer

PLOT A former soldier is transformed into a twisted superhero.

CAST Ryan Reynolds, Ed Skrein, Morena Baccarin

RATED R (violence, sexuality, vulgarity)

LENGTH 1:48

BOTTOM LINE Knowing winks and intentionally “sick” humor can’t improve this D-grade “X-Men” flick. Self-amused and irritating.

“Deadpool,” an aggressively adult-oriented entry in the “X-Men” franchise, stars Ryan Reynolds as an anti-hero with a sick sense of humor and an up-yours attitude. The movie sets a flippant tone with its opening credit sequence, in which the cast members are listed as A Hot Chick, A Sidekick, A CGI Character and, in the lead, God’s Perfect Idiot. The director, Tim Miller, is An Overpaid Tool.

They said it, I didn’t. With sour humor and a self-loathing attitude, “Deadpool” poses as a superhero movie for people who hate superhero movies, but the filmmakers must hate superhero movies, too — or at the least the one they just made. “Deadpool” mocks its own conventions, snickers at sentiment and scoffs at every cliché it nevertheless includes. The fourth-wall breaking is presented as a sharp twist on an unaware genre, but the only thing that really distinguishes this movie is a level of vulgarity rare in the Marvel universe.

“Deadpool” is the story of Wade Wilson (Reynolds), a low-rent mercenary whose Bea Arthur T-shirt tells us he’s one jaundiced customer. For Wade, everything is a gag, including his fiancee, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), a prostitute who shares his sexual kinks and penchant for child-abuse jokes. Even when Wade is diagnosed with cancer and winds up in a brutal gene-mutation clinic, he keeps sneering. His last words, before torture-master Ajax (Ed Skrein) begins his regimen: “You’ve got something in your teeth. Made you look!” Reynolds deserves points for commitment, if nothing else.

Wade emerges disfigured but immortal under the nom-de-tights Deadpool, but this only worsens his (and the film’s) nasty disposition. Now Wade can take a bullet in the rectum and make a funny out of it while the camera goes in for a close-up. He gets an assistant, Al (Leslie Uggams), whose advanced age and blindness make for weak comedy. Two traditional X-Men types, Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and Colossus (the aforementioned CGI character), mostly stand around enduring insults.

“Deadpool” seems stuck in the late 1990s, when kitsch was cool, sincerity was square and rock bands bragged about what losers they were. This movie knew it was bad before you did, so doesn’t that mean it’s actually good? Maybe, but the joke is still on you.

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