2018, R, 108 mins.
Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson / Deadpool / Josh Brolin as Nathan Summers / Cable / Zazie Beetz as Neena Thurman / Domino / T.J. Miller as Jack "Weasel" Hammer / Brianna Hildebrand as Ellie Phimister / Negasonic Teenage Warhead / Stefan Kapičić as Piotr Rasputin / Colossus (voice) / Julian Dennison as Rusty Collins / Fire Fist / Morena Baccarin as Vanessa Carlyle / Copycat / Shiori Kutsuna as Yoiki / Karan Soni as Dopinder / Terry Crews as Jesse Aaronson / Bedlam
Directed by David Leitch / Written by Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese, and Ryan Reynolds
first DEADPOOL movie gleefully - and
sometimes sadistically - turned comic book film genre conventions and
troupes upside down on their heads. Ryan
Reynolds' fourth wall breaking "merc with the mouth" was just
the right kind of self-referential jolt to the heart that super hero films
needed, and the relatively cheap $58 million 2016 outing featured three
jokes per minute pacing in showcasing this unique titular character's
highly subversive wit and edge. The
film was also deliriously absurd and - unlike so many other recent comic
book extravaganzas on the silver screen - rarely took itself seriously.
DEADPOOL was not only a critical and audience darling upon release,
but it also miraculously came out as the highest grossing R-rated
This brings me inevitably to the, well, inevitable DEADPOOL sequel, which has replaced the first film's director in Tim Miller (reportedly over creative differences with star and producer Reynolds) and in his place is the very competent David Leitch, who previously made two of the finest action films of their respective years in JOHN WICK and ATOMIC BLONDE (in pure DEADPOOL-ian fashion, the bluntly hysterical opening title cards lists the sequel as being directed by "One of the guys who killed the dog in JOHN WICK").
With a new
director in tow and the first film's throw caution to the wind and
literally everything at the screen bravado, DEADPOOL 2 emerges as just as
maddeningly crazy, perversely ultra violent, potty mouthed, and twistedly
meta as its predecessor. If
it has any weaknesses it would be in the sense that - as unfortunately is
the case with most sequels - the film confuses sheer volume and a bigger
is better mantra with improved quality (it's perhaps too jam
packed with too many elements and characters for its own good), not to
mention that it sometimes awkwardly tries to amalgamate hard R-rated
screwball shenanigans with scenes of heartrending poignancy, often to
whiplashing effect. But
DEADPOOL 2 can never been accused of dryly rehashing the introductory installment,
as there are clear cut efforts here to push the character into new
DEADPOOL 2 opens
with a literal bang. We see
our oddly depressed hero laying atop of half a dozen canisters of
explosive fuel in what appears to be his apartment. He lights a fuse that
detonates them, leaving him blown to multiple bits and seemingly dead.
Despite the shock and awe value of Leitch and screenwriters Rhett
Reese and Paul Wernick (they also penned the first film) killing off their
hero in the first five minutes of the film, it's nevertheless undone by
the fact that Deadpool - as already established - is a character that is
supremely difficult to kill. Anyhoo',
the film then flashes back to a time before Deadpool's suicide (or attempted
suicide) to show us all how he got into such existentialist funk, during
which time we are greeted to (a) a wonderfully bizarre opening title card
sequence that joyously lampoons James Bond films and (b) a
montage of Deadpool visiting various underworld gangs around the globe and
hacking, slashing, impaling, decapitating, and gunning his way through all
of them with Dolly Parton's "9 To 5" blaring on the soundtrack.
Yet, DEADPOOL 2 remains, as the character himself amusingly relays in his voiceover track, a "family film" that initially chronicles his loving relationship with his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccerin) and their mutually agreed decision to bring a baby into the world. Unfortunately, Deadpool's seemingly happy life of hopefully becoming a father and mass murdering bad guys takes a dark turn for the worse when he not only faces personal tragedy, but also when he's conspired to join the X-Men and convinced to tone down his blood lusting super hero ways. While trying to find his new happy place with fellow X-Man Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), Deadpool finds himself going rogue when he befriends and tries to protect a young mutant named Russell (HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE's terrific Julian Dennison) that's been horribly abused in a group home. Worse yet, a time traveling cybernetic soldier from the future named Cable (Josh Brolin, in his second comic book themed film of the summer after AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR) arrives in the present to eradicate anything in his way - including Deadpool - so he can kill Russell, who's apparently complicit in the murder of his family in the future. Realizing the severity of this threat, Deadpool concludes that he must form his own kick ass mutant team to combat Cable.
He puts a
recruitment ad on LinkIn.
One of the
sinfully funny pleasures of DEADPOOL 2 is the recruitment scenes involving
the hero interviewing and hiring his prospective teammates, which he
proudly claims will abandon a gender specific and offensive sounding name
like X-Men and instead will be called X-Force.
Some of the recruits include an acid-puking mutant, Zeitgeist
(Bill Skarsgard, a far cry removed from the monstrous clown he played in IT)
and Domino (Zazie Beetz), whose mutant power is...being very, very
lucky. There's also Peter
(Rob Delaney), who hilariously has zero mutant abilities and no super
powers whatsoever, but just showed up to the interview out of curiosity
(Deadpool hires him the quickest). I appreciated Beetz's addition to the largely testosterone
infused DEADPOOL series, and Domino's unique abilities actually proves to be
the source of extreme power and influence over others. Brolin is also pitch perfectly cast as his gravel voiced and
vengeance fuelled temporal shifting vigilante, and even though he doesn't
occupy a villain role that's anywhere near as compellingly rendered as
Thanos, he's still a formidably intimidating presence here and often
becomes a straight man reacting to Deadpool's constant barrage of one
liners, like (my personal favorite), "You're so dark.
Are you sure you're not from the D.C. Universe?" Deadpool also drolly refers to the robotic limbed assassin as
"One-Eyed Willy" at one point, a sly nod to Brolin's appearance
in THE GOONIES.
proudly wears its hero's camera mugging riffing like a badge of honor,
perhaps more so than in the first film.
I've been awfully hard on Reynolds as an actor of range in previous
reviews of his films, but there's absolutely no denying that Deadpool is a
role that he utterly owns; it's a slick match to his skills as an
improvisational comedic actor. Thankfully,
Reynolds' boisterous enthusiasm for the role has not diminished in the
slightest, and the screenplay built around him (which Reynolds has a
co-writer credit on) takes great pains to acknowledge to the audience that,
yes, you're watching a movie...and one riddled with clichés (just before
Deadpool and X-Force spring into action for the film's climax, he
nonchalantly informs us that, if their assault is
successful, then viewers get to go home early because there will be no
need for a third act). There
are other sublime bits of playful whimsy sprinkled throughout, like a
commentary about how this film is a lot like the Barbara Streisand drama
YENTIL and a morosely funny introduction to the entire X-Force team
jumping out of an airplane for the first time as a unified squad that,
true to this franchise's form, takes a dastardly turn and doesn't end at
all as expected.
Mel Brooks once
said that the key to comedy is a willingness to do anything for a laugh.
That seems to be blueprint for DEADPOOL 2, and even when some of
the gags and pratfalls fall a tad flat there's half a dozen or so more
that land with successful merriment.
Reflecting on the solemnity of the first JOHN WICK film, director
David Leitch may not seem like an ideal choice to harness and lurid action
comedy like DEADPOOL 2, but he acclimates himself rather well, even though
I wished he brought more of the Keanu Reeves series' brand of long
one-take bone-crunching fluidity to the action scenes here, which now seem to
be the obligatory and chaotic stuff of CGI-heavy mayhem (one character in
particular is entirely the product of CG, which often sticks out like an
unnecessary distraction). Then
there's the manner that DEADPOOL 2 wants to be cheerfully subversive and
zany, but then also and oddly yearns to be tender and sincere in other moments.
I appreciate the makers here in wanting to explore and expand upon
the character, but there's something a tad creatively disingenuous about
a DEADPOOL movie that wants to be...tender and sincere.
And, again, there's too much going on throughout the course of this film with too many subplots and characters vying for the spotlight that should have been solely cast on Deadpool himself (sometimes, this sequel seems to be guilty of trying to establish a series of future X-Force films to come instead of just being a movie about its main character). Narrative and comedic momentum begins to wane in the final 30 minutes as well, which is redeemed with two mid-end credit sequences that are arguably the best of their kind ever committed to celluloid. I don't think DEADPOOL 2 ever once has the same lighting in a bottle aesthetic and genre freshness of its antecedent (a Herculean task for any follow-up entry to an iconic and cherished first film), but this sequel is rarely guilty of committing the cardinal sequel sin of regurgitating the greatest hits of what came before and blandly repackaging them. It's not quite the - to take a page out of its hero's endlessly quotable playbook - "MAXIMUM EFFORT" that I was hoping for, but it's a solid effort as far as super hero sequels go and mostly skewers fan expectations..."like a fuckin' kabob"...in just the right dosages.