There is always a film to catch up with and always a new release that I want to see before it leaves the cinema. Last week I did a little of both, a double bill of Ben Wheatley's Free Fire and Marvel's Deadpool and was struck by the similarities. Both use a barrage of bullets and gags to power their run time. Both left me feeling rather cold and wondering if gags and violence are enough.
So many people raved about Deadpool that I felt I was missing out. Described as irreverent, hilarious and wonderfully violent for a Marvel movie. I was intrigued. I wasn't a Deadpool reader so the mythology meant little to me but I knew enough to recognise the character traits, the fourth wall breaks, the countless ribs at other Marvel stalwarts particularly the X-Men and the relentless gunfire.
Having watched the film I am wholly unimpressed. Self awareness is rewarding at times but when it is consistently used it becomes a very cumbersome experience. Action sequences are always a joy when executed well but when the violence stops to make a gag it felt a little jarring. The jibes at fellow Marvel franchises did make me laugh and many are gags that viewers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have passed themselves, but Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a massively unlikeable character with no redeeming qualities. I found the whole thing to be rather an irritating experience with little take away value.
Many have commented that Logan only exists due to the success of Deadpool. I don't buy this argument as several more 'adult' comic book films existed previously Kick-Ass and Watchmen for example. However, if this argument was to be true it would be hard to credit. Logan is a film with thematic heft and a character whose reluctance to become violent is both admirable and well drawn. Deadpool is a mouthpiece with as many innuendo laden gags as he has bullets and both are dispensed without second thought or consequence.
Ben Wheatley's Free Fire intrigued me on reading various articles and interviews in the run up to release. His description of this 90 minute shoot out in warehouse peaked my interest as I often find his work to be somewhat hit and miss.
A gun deal gone bad with a cavalcade of unlikeable characters is a very simplistic premise. While the bullets fly I hugely was impressed with the craft of this film.
The geography of the warehouse, where characters were in relation to each other was highly impressive. Film students may well study this film in years to come as a great example of character placement and remembering their place in shot. Each character had their own unique weapon and therefore sound quality that made it clear amid the chaos who was firing. These nuances help what is a basic film premise stand out and showed the thought given in the compilation of the film. The witty lines and their delivery gave the events a black humour that charmed me more than Deadpool could ever dream!
Both these films are bullet ridden and foul mouthed. Both these films have little take away value. I will not ponder the themes or look for substance. There are similarities between the two but there are also difference.
Both films have unlikeable characters but one has a charm.
Both films have unlimited bullets but one shows the direct consequence for these being fired.
Both use humour to counter and distract from their violent content but one ensures this humour is warranted and relevant.
One is made by a director who has taken care and consideration over what is being created. The other is Deadpool!