Just when it seemed that the Marvel Comics takeover of multiplexes was becoming a homogenous exercise in rapacious cross-branding, along comes Deadpool to deliver a swift kick to the franchise’s dangling nether regions.
Tim Miller’s hyperkinetic origin story is like a newborn puppy that has yet to be house-trained: boundlessly energetic, blissfully oblivious to the rules, and prone to leave a steaming hot mess in a favourite pair of slippers when your guard is down.
“I may be super, but I’m no hero,” grins Ryan Reynolds’ titular man in figure-hugging red spandex, breaking down the fourth wall to address us directly.
He’s not joking, for once.
In an opening salvo of high-speed automotive carnage that combines gratuitous dismemberment with gleeful irreverence, his masked avenger ricochets bullets through the heads of bad guys and pushes a car cigarette lighter into the mouth of one unfortunate henchman.
“Don’t swallow,” he quips.
The relentless barrage of pop culture references and post-modern in-jokes hinges on Reynolds’ ability to charm us and he barrels through every frame with a cocksure swagger that is impossible to resist.
Former Special Forces operative Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is a low-rent assassin for hire, who works out of a bar called Sister Margaret’s Home For Wayward Girls run by his wise-cracking buddy Weasel (TJ Miller).
A loner by heart, Wade falls in love with sassy sex club worker Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), who shares his passion for creative love-making.
“Happy International Women’s Day,” she purrs, giving him one eye-watering new experience.
The furious bed-hopping ends when Wade discovers he has inoperable cancer.
A recruiter (Jed Rees) from an experimental program known as WeaponX invites Wade to undergo a radical procedure, which aggressively attacks the cancerous cells.
Sadistic program director Ajax (Ed Skrein) and henchwoman Angel Dust (Gina Carano) torture and abuse Wade, transforming him into a hideously deformed mutant with the power of self-healing.
Reborn as Deadpool, Wade moves in with a no-nonsense landlady named Al (Leslie Uggams).
“She’s the Robin to my Batman... except she’s old, black and blind,” he quips.
Aided by two bona fide X-Men - Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) - Wade vows revenge on Ajax and his underlings.
Relentlessly lurid and unapologetically foul-mouthed, Deadpool is a sinful treat.
Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s script is crammed to bursting with zinging one-liners and a miasma of filth and toilet humour.
Some gags narrowly miss their target, but the duds are invariably followed up in quick succession by sly digs at comic book conventions or self-referential barbs at the expense of Reynolds’ good looks.
Director Miller relies too heavily on slow-motion in his action sequences, but when it comes to the machine-gun dialogue, his film doesn’t pause for breath.
:: SWEARING :: SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 7/10
DEADPOOL (15, 108 mins) Action/Fantasy/Comedy/Romance. Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, Gina Carano, TJ Miller, Leslie Uggams, Brianna Hildebrand, Jed Rees and the voice of Stefan Kapicic. Director: Tim Miller.
Released: February 10 (UK & Ireland)