A film review by Craig J. Koban May 25, 2018



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 





The 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 film...of all-time. 

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 uncharted territory. 



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. 

DEADPOOL 2 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.

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