Most superhero films deserve an anthem, something to reflect the straightforward fighting of the good fight. And thus the completely bonkers, lovably obnoxious Deadpool boasts Juice Newton’sAngel of the Morning.
Somehow, AM radio jams fit nicely into the utter insanity barely contained in director Tim Miller’s comic-book ode to ultra-violence, four-letter words and weird love. Ryan Reynolds, too, benefits from finally finding a role that matches his wit and his abs — even if his handsome mug is hidden under a mask most of the time — though Deadpool (**½ out of four; rated R; in theaters nationwide Friday) sometimes can’t keep up with its own madcap energy.
Plot gets shot in the head and thrown in the trunk in favor of Looney Tunes-esque shenanigans, not to say that’s a bad thing. A spectacular opening action scene introduces Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson, the “Merc with a Mouth” who takes out baddies with ease — and extreme prejudice — and offers play-by-play commentary.
Amid the flying bodies and vehicles, Deadpool narrates his origin story of how he fell in love with an exotic dancer (Morena Baccarin) just as messed up as he is, was diagnosed with cancer and underwent a ghastly procedure that gave him superhuman abilities and the very definition of a “pizza face.”
On the road to saving his fair Vanessa, spending bro time with his barkeeper confidant, Weasel (T.J. Miller), and taking revenge on the villainous Ajax (Ed Skrein), Deadpool comes to crazy life with Reynolds’ on-point comic timing and knack for saying the most offensive stuff imaginable in a palatable way.
In a movie so over the top that it obliterates said top, Deadpool’s outsize personality tends to overshadow the rest of the characters. Ajax especially comes off as two-dimensional, and his super-strong henchwoman, Angel Dust (Gina Carano), just punches stuff (though she does it well). Deadpool takes place in the X-Men movie universe, so the main antihero gets to spend hilarious screen time with a couple of folks from the comics: the earnest, steel-bodied Russian named Colossus (a CGI juggernaut played via motion capture by Stefan Kapicic) and angsty youngsterNegasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), who deserves superlatives for best name and most in need of a spinoff.
The problem of having so much wanton action and National Lampoon-style comedy is that it’s noticeable when it’s gone; the middle act slows considerably. And although a masked comic-book character who’s funny and watchable appeals to children, this isn’t for kids — although it is pretty much any prepubescent boy’s dream movie, with sex and language that would make Captain America blush.
For grown-ups, however, Deadpool avoids enough pitfalls to both embrace and flambé the superhero genre while also finding time for romance, doling out equal handfuls of bullets, barbs and warm fuzzies.