It’s unlikely that anyone has ever been more earnestly, passionately invested in making a potty-mouthed, gutter-minded slice of screen gratuitousness than Ryan Reynolds in “Deadpool.” Any raunchy thing goes in this ultraviolent superhero romp, which spotlights a Marvel cult favorite but comes to us from Fox, inconsistent handlers of the “X-Men” and “Fantastic Four” franchises.
Some will remember how Fox bungled Reynolds’s earlier appearance as Deadpool in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” physically robbing the notoriously wisecracking mercenary — “The Merc With a Mouth” to fans — of his ability to speak. Reynolds and a new crew of filmmakers get it right with this reboot, serving up giddy, boundary-pushing mayhem so true to the comics’ sophomoric spirit, the irreverence is infectious. This is a role that Reynolds, with his cut physique and freewheeling wit, was born to play. Or one that he should’ve been playing, anyway, when he was suiting up as Green Lantern — a misfire referenced here, in Deadpool’s signature fourth-wall-busting style.
The story tethering all of these manic bits is surprisingly lean by genre standards. Things continually circle back to an opening action sequence offering glib, hyperactively dispensed details on our red-masked anti-hero (a.k.a. Wade Wilson), his mutant healing power, and his revenge mission against nasty Ajax (Ed Skrein, edgier than in “Transporter Refueled”). Imagine Spider-Man with legitimately funny quips, waaay less angst, and a bug-eyed getup that’s lethally accessorized. (The offbeat credits superimposed by animator-turned-director Tim Miller are possibly the best joke of all, although darned if we know how Miller got the guilds to go along.)
The next big chunk of the movie is flashback territory. Wade meets his equally bonkers soulmate (a wickedly amusing Morena Baccarin) and, in a decent dramatic changeup, undergoes the cancer-beating, face-Cuisinarting procedure that morphs him into Deadpool. Then it’s on to the noisy but entertaining final showdown, with Deadpool getting X-Men backup from moralizing CG strongman Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and — for the moniker alone? — sullen Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand).
The featherweight narrative leaves a lot riding on the comedic instincts of Miller and his writers, “Zombieland” vets Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Together, they help Reynolds and screen pal T.J. Miller reel off enough zingers (and enough R-rated variations on what trailers spoiled) to keep the story flowing. They even make the requisite cameo by Marvel founding father Stan Lee feel profanely inspired. Not your usual Marvel superhero scene? In this case, that’s a good thing.
Directed by Tim Miller. Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, based on the character created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Ed Skrein. Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs. 108 minutes. R (strong violence and language throughout, sexual content, graphic nudity).Tom Russo can be reached a firstname.lastname@example.org.