Two years ago, despite thoroughly enjoying his cinematic debut, I said it was a shame that they dialled back on this portrayal of Deadpool’s schizophrenia. Thinking back I realise if you really go for mental illness angle in a comic book movie you end up with SUPER, which while interesting is a harrowing, difficult watch. I’m not surprised Wade has been given a heart and (slightly) more control to turn this franchise into a crowd-pleaser.
Wisecracking immortal mercenary Wade Wilson/Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is in a bad place, and it’s not because he hasn’t gotten over now looking like a testicle with teeth. To find a new purpose to his endless surplus of life he protects a gifted but dangerous child (Julian Dennison) from time-traveling assassin Cable (Josh Brolin) and forms his very own super-team to avoid actually having to sign up with the goody-goody X-Men.
DEADPOOL 2 is a pretty hard movie to review well, even more so than the first really because the novelty has worn off somewhat. I laughed nearly constantly (except for the sad bits because I’m not a sicko) but I don’t want to ruin all the best jokes by regurgitating them here. The issue is that the film is at least 75% jokes. It’s all very meta in a juvenile sort of way, with DP referencing/insulting other actors’ careers and who their character remind him of (chiefly Brolin) or turning to camera to acknowledge when the film is getting a bit predictable, which it sometimes is.
My favourite joke from the first film is given a great punchline here, and without spoiling too much let’s just say Wade gets to right some great wrongs by the end of the film. In addition to plenty of X-Men franchise lampooning (and grudging praise for LOGAN) there’s a disturbingly funny BASIC INSTINCT reference, childish humour goes dark when film industry abuse is referenced (“All these pictures of old white men…I should have brought a rape whistle”) and when Wade’s healing powers are briefly suspended (“now I have the power of unbridled cancer!”).
The things this man can do with a knife block… You can definitely tell ATOMIC BLONDE’s David Leitch is behind the camera this time with a lot of the action amped up with (bone) snap, crackle and pop. I kind-of miss the scrappiness of the first film’s fights, the moderate budget prompting creativity, but the sequel doesn’t go all-out on the spectacle either, for every standard superhero bust-up there’s an entertaining subversion to balance it.
How great is it to see Julian Dennison getting to be in big Hollywood movies? New additions Cable and Domino (Zazie Beetz) are both class acts, their performers clearly relishing their roles almost as much as Reynolds. It is a shame that Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) isn’t given enough to do to steal the show again, though shiny straight arrow Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) is still good value for money. The Deadpool series is continuing its programme of rehabilitating X-Men wronged by previous movies and there are obscure references for fans to spot throughout and a surprise or two in store for viewers of all stripes.
While the Merc with the Mouth’s views are usually pretty progressive for a killer who enjoys pissing people off, the film around him does resort to shortcuts in character portrayal that are, frankly, beneath the filmmakers. Unless I missed it, Pool doesn’t reference Trump coming to power since his last outing either, which seems like a wasted opportunity at an open goal. The odd disappointment in storytelling and misjudged portrayal aside, Deadpool 2 is a hugely entertaining follow-up and the ideal stage for Ryan Reynolds to do what he does best (and what he does is really funny). SSP