What I like about this is that everyone I know who loves the character seems to love this film – it has undeniably done its job in that respect. I also like that it pokes fun without being a spoof, it’s funny (though funnier in some places than others), and the action sequences are great, particularly the highway chase. It operates within the wider cinematic universe without having to be part of it, and it is not bloated or overlong. There are a couple of really interesting supporting characters (Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Colossus) who I liked a lot and hope to see again somewhere, and the clever editing-in of flashback sequences kept the pace moving along and made what is essentially a very slight storyline feel a little weightier.
The self-referentiality did become a little tiresome after a while though. I got some of the ‘in’ jokes but missed several more I’m sure. And although I chuckled quite a lot, some of the humour was just a little juvenile.
The fuss around the 15/R rating is an interesting one. I understood the violence aspect – in this film it’s more realistic and splattertastic than other ‘superhero’ films, and the strong language is presumably the type of vocabulary that mercenaries use when they’re hanging out in their local bar swigging beer. I’m happy to think that other superheroes swear too, just not in the films. But at times I could almost hear the filmmakers thinking “well, we’re going to get a 15/R rating anyway for the violence, why not throw in some sex and nudity while we’re here”. It’s not that I have a problem with these things in films, but in my view, it just wasn’t necessary. We didn’t need to see it to enhance the story.
And on that note, the women in this film seem poorly served. So much potential with Negasonic Teenage Warhead was squandered. Gina Carano was horrendously underused (Steven Soderbergh knew what to do – c/f Haywire). And Morena Baccarin … well. The opening credits say it all – she’s billed as ‘A Hot Chick’ and, although she certainly is, surely there’s more to her than that? Did her character really have to work in a strip club? Could she not have just worked in a bar? Worn a few more clothes? Did she need to be naked?
I liked this though I didn’t love it – but if it can provoke that response from someone who probably isn’t the primary target audience, then it’s clearly a job well done.