Deadpool 2 Review

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Deadpool was a surprise hit, breaking box office records for an R-rated movie. But more importantly it salvaged the character of Wade Wilson after he was so badly fumbled in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Expectations might be higher this time, but Deadpool 2 comfortably satisfies them, delivering a sequel that’s, crasser, gorier, and funnier than the first. Occasionally it runs a little short in terms of plot, and doesn’t make the most of Cable but it’s a strong second outing for the Merc with a Mouth.

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While it may sow the seeds for an X-Force film down the line, Deadpool 2 is unmistakably Wade Wilson’s movie. He dominates every scene, steamrollering everyone around him. Even returning characters from the last film – Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Weasel – are all firmly pushed to the sidelines. Deadpool is the star here, with Ryan Reynolds effortlessly bringing him to life once again. Credited as a co-writer this time, Reynolds blurs the line even further between himself and the character over whom he clearly feels a special ownership. He’s perfect in the role.

The impulse to go bigger with a sequel is admirably kept under control. In fact, the stakes are refreshingly low for a superhero movie. Wade’s not trying to save the world – just himself. And if you were to summarise the plot, it probably wouldn’t take more than a handful of sentences. Most of the runtime is instead spent dropping Wade into potentially funny scenarios. Within the first hour, he trots the globe offing bad guys of all nationalities, attempts suicide, urinates in a bar, kicks back in his apartment, takes an obscene amount of cocaine, and hangs out with Colossus.

This scattergun approach suits the manic nature of the character, and leads to a fair amount of laugh-out-loud moments. One of the best sequences sees Wade attempting to join the X-Men. Not only is Wade allowed to tear his way through Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, we see him in the field, bringing his own distinctive approach to resolving fraught human-mutant relations. While it yields some great moments, it also feels messy and a little unstructured, as if you’re watching loosely-connected episodes of a sitcom rather than a cohesive movie heading somewhere with a purpose.

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The script bulges with rapid-fire one-liners and references tojust about everything. Deadpool is seemingly aware of every other superhero movie and isn’t afraid to call them out, repeatedly. While some of these barbs may raise a smirk, for the most part they feel forced and already a little dated. Far more amusing are the unexpected allusions, which add a weird texture to Wade’s personality and the movie. Who knew he was such a fan of Barbara Streisand’s Yentl? Or that he’s obsessed with a conspiracy theory involving the song Papa, Can You Hear Me? There’s also plenty of nervous laughter prompted by just how far Deadpool 2 is willing to push its violence and the levels of gore. There’s some seriously gross stuff in there.

But by far the funniest moments are when Deadpool’s allowed to subvert a scene from within, reacting to events as they unfold and bouncing off the characters around him – whether that’s joining the X-Men or assembling his own mutant team. It allows enough time for the fourth-wall to be built back up, so when he inevitably knocks it down, it has a much greater impact. He’s far less effective when allowed to riff at length and without purpose.

For better and worse, Deadpool 2 feels like a small movie. On one hand, it helps create an almost domestic sense of scale, largely alien to the genre in which it sits. Fast-paced action is frequently interspersed with scenes of Deadpool chatting to people in cabs, drinking in bars, or sitting on the sofa. Again it gives the movie this sitcom-like quality, which helps support the comedic tone Deadpool 2 is striking for, but it feels restrictive when it attempts something more ambitious like introducing a character like Cable.

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The time-travelling mutant returns to the present day to prevent the death of his wife and child in the future. But all we ever see of this nightmarish future, presumably due to budgetary restrictions, is a desolate, neon-tinged view from Cable’s kitchen. So it’s hard to get a real sense of the world Cable was born into or what his character is really about beyond his cliched presentation. Josh Brolin feels like a decent fit for the role – he has presence and does grizzled about as well as anyone – but little time is spent really digging into the character, or even doing something as basic as outlining what his abilities are. Cable is introduced more as a foil for Deadpool – a cybernetically-enhanced straight man – and as a temporary antagonist who helps give the movie more focus as it struts towards its final act.

Similarly, the film feels small scale in its use of location. Most of the set pieces feel like they take place across the same few blocks of downtown Vancouver we grew familiar with in the first movie.But while the locales might be forgettable, the action certainly is not. John Wick co-director David Leitchbrings a wonderful sense of character to each of the movie’s many fight scenes and ensures each is reflective of those participating. The opening montage sees Deadpool creatively mutilate and decapitate gangsters across the world. It’s a savage sequence amusingly set to the beat of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5. The stand-out, however, has to be Zazie Beetz’s Domino, whose mutant power is supernatural good fortune. At one point, Deadpool even jests that luck is a deeply uncinematic ability while ironically one of coolest sequences in the movie plays out. Her fights unfold like truncated versions of a Final Destination movie or a Rube Goldberg machine which eventually leads adversaries to death. The quality of action is high throughout, but Domino’s scenes are particularly witty and well-executed.

The Verdict

Deadpool 2 eventually draws its disparate elements together, gains momentum, and pushes towards something more closely resembling a traditional finale. In keeping with the rest of the movie, it’s still fairly small-scale and character-focused, and surprisingly, it’s emotionally effective too. Despite the character’s trademark flippancy, there’s a real unexpected warmth to Deadpool 2. Not only does the sequel explore this flawed character, it firmly establishes him as a loveable and effective hero.

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