It’s not often that an actor finds a specific character that just seems to work perfectly for their style without getting annoying and Ryan Reynolds has found his perfect fit with Deadpool. After the first film became the highest grossing R-rated comedy in 2016 a sequel was quickly planned and now we have it in “Deadpool 2”, a film that might not up the ante as much as expected but manages to still be on par, if not better, than its predecessor. So, how much does this comedic superhero sequel truly pay off? I’m about to tell you. This is my review of “Deadpool 2”.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT
Two years after the events of “Deadpool” the titular superhero, again played by Ryan Reynolds, has become a successful assassin. After failing to kill one of his targets, Wade Wilson aka Deadpool experiences a life-changing tragedy that leads him into depression and self-guilt. When a new young mutant named Russel Collins (Julian Dennison) aka Firefist causes trouble Deadpool joins the X-Men and has a revelation that helping the kid would be a therapeutic experience for him. Unable to avoid violence in his “heroic” ways however, Deadpool finds himself exiled from the X-Men and imprisoned, along with Collins, in a mutant holding facility. When a new time traveling mutant named Cable (Josh Brolin) arrives to hunt down Collins Deadpool must form his own team dubbed X-Force, including the mutant Domino (Zazie Beetz) with luck-based powers, to protect Collins and put an end to Cable’s mission. However, when revelations are brought to light about Collins’ future Deadpool must decide how to be a true hero in his own way.
Like the first film, pretty much every major performance in this movie is spot on and captures the spirit of the source material nicely. As I said in the beginning Ryan Reynolds has found a perfect fit for his humor and acting range with Deadpool although this time he injects some emotional depth into the character as well. While in the first movie we saw a more optimistic anti-hero with only a bit of emotional conflict, this time Deadpool is vulnerable which kind of plays into recent revelations from Reynolds himself concerning his real life depression and anxiety. Deadpool seems to use his humor as a way to cope with his insecurities, making him oddly more human and relatable than I personally thought he could be. It’s an improvement on an already astounding performance by Reynolds in the first film and adds layers to a character that, in the eyes of many, is usually nothing more than a comic relief lead.
The other two main characters on the X-Force side are Josh Bolin’s Cable and Zazie Beetz Domino, both of which received a bit of controversy when they were announced. Despite the differences in these characters from their comic book counterparts, Cable being leaner and shorter and Domino being African American rather than pail skinned, I was more satisfied than I expected by both of these portrayals. Brolin’s performance is dry and serious with a hint of sincerity just like I’d imagine Cable to be while Beetz performs her part as Domino with flair and pizzazz allowing her to have her own humorous moments and portraying the character as an outright confident badass. What’s even more important is that both of these characters serve as great compliments to Deadpool in terms of personality as they level out his quirky sense of humor with their own brand of comedic timing. Cable utilizes more on dry comedy and Domino uses a more level-headed down to earth comic approach. Altogether I felt the main hero performances were worth the viewing and I’d love to see where these characters go from here.
Looking at the movie as a whole I thought the pacing was great and that “Deadpool 2” felt more grounded than the first movie. “Deadpool” tried very hard to drive home what it was all about with endless random jokes and oddball violent humor, but “Deadpool 2” came in knowing exactly what it wanted to be and owned it. In many ways it’s not quite an improvement over the first movie, but it doesn’t really have to be. Everyone involved, new and old, appears to have come into this sequel with the idea of building on the success of the first movie without taking unnecessary risks and they succeed tremendously. “Deadpool 2” is exactly what it wants to be and what it needs to be. It adds new elements to Deadpool’s universe, adds some neat surprise cameos to address some plot holes from the first movie, and the comedy feels more focused and polished than its predecessor. Not to mentions the scale of this film feels much larger, escaping the budgetary constraints of the first movie and adding more action and more epic special effects which all make for a more over-the-top, but still surprisingly controlled superhero epic. It feels like a natural progression for the series and one that does justice to what fans wanted to see.
In addition to more emotional depth and great characters, “Deadpool 2” is just an all-around fun action comedy with great fight scenes and fun set pieces that compliment the action rather than limiting it. That doesn’t surprise me much seeing as this film is directed by David Leitch who co-directed “John Wick” (albeit uncredited) and “Atomic Blond”, both great action projects in their own right. His finger prints are all over this movie and while it might not be his absolute best work, seeing as “Deadpool 2” relies more on CGI than Leitch’s other works, I’m glad he took the helm because this movie needed an action-oriented mind behind the camera to help compliment Reynolds’ focus on hilarity. It makes for a good mix from some very talented hands.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
For all it’s great humor and performances “Deadpool 2” did have a few issues I’d like to point out, the most glaring of which is the somewhat lazy narratives. Despite the first movie feeling like an original origin story that bucked the formula, there is a lot about “Deadpool 2” that feels by the books. The time-travel story is reminiscent of movies like “Looper” and Deadpool’s main personal conflict that is established by the incidents at the beginning of the film is taken right out of the book of movie clichés to kick start the plot. Now I give the movie a lot of credit for adapting these clichés in its own special way, but that doesn’t forgive the fact that “Deadpool 2” in a few ways feels less original than the first film. Instead of subverting clichés it tends to embrace them shamelessly without properly offering the wink and nod to the audience we’ve come to expect. And it’s not like the film was above referencing the repetitive concepts in its plot, it just doesn’t do it enough. Sometimes the movie is willing to admit its clichés but then breaks away from its meta humor to just accept it. That’s being real nitpicky, but what do you want this is a review after all…moving on.
While I did give the film credit for having more focused comedy one of my biggest gripes was that the humor leans very heavily on parodying the superhero genre specifically, so the jokes aren’t as diverse as the previous film’s. There’s a lot of comparisons between Deadpool and the Marvel Cinematic Universe and several references to the DC Extended Universe which is all in good fun and most of the jokes work, but it makes “Deadpool 2” a little less creative in the laughs department. Most of the best jokes in the film are the ones that go beyond the genre specific comparisons, including a nod to the James Bond franchise in the opening credits and references to “The Terminator” and other classic film franchises. The Deadpool character works well when he references superhero culture in general, after all he IS a hero himself spawned from Marvel, but what made the first movie so shockingly hilarious at times was Ryan Reynolds ability to work out-of-nowhere pop culture references outside of the genre into the action. Because we get less of that in “Deadpool 2” it feels more like a superhero-specific parody film but regardless the jokes land with very few duds all the same. So even with a change in focus for the humor “Deadpool 2” is just as funny, if not funnier at times, than its predecessor.
Finally, I wasn’t really impressed by the villain, or really the lack there of. Cable AND Firefist both end up being antagonists in some way in this film and neither really prove to be impressively threatening or memorable bad guys. They’re good characters and all but other than a surprise third antagonist who I won’t spoil here there’s really no concrete memorable villain to speak of in this story. That works in some ways because it drives home Deadpool’s ultimate mission and his faith in people’s ability to change, but it also felt a bit confusing. Who are we supposed to root for? Who are we supposed to hate? Is everyone a hero or not? Because of the way everything plays out the stakes feel a lot lower and the final result is rather predictable. It’s a lot of fun to get to that point, but it’s predictable all the same. OH, and there is ONE more thing that irked me…THIS MOVIE COMPLETELY WASTES THE MUCH TEASED X-FORCE TEAM!!!! I can’t explain how because it would ruin part of the movie but all I’m going to say is if seeing the team all together on the helicopter before they jump in the trailer got you all excited you’re going to be very disappointed in the final result.
“Deadpool 2” has a few faults, but in the end I was thoroughly entertained. It does focus more on genre-specific humor and suffers for Marvel’s infamous villain problem, save for the surprise baddy, but all in all “Deadpool 2” is a great superhero movie that’s worth the watch. After blowing audiences away in 2016 with no-holds-barred humor this continuation of the Merc with a Mouth’s story feels like the series has found a good footing and knows what it wants to and has to be to please its fans and then some. Great performances compliment an engaging and action-packed narrative that rises above its clichés while embracing a great balance between drama and humor giving us something I personally didn’t expect from a Deadpool movie. It’s a violent, fun and epic adventure that also packs a lot of heart and a deep moral that all helps develop Deadpool into more than the fourth-wall-breaking jokester we’ve come to know and love. I can’t wait to experience it again!