Having sat in development hell for well over 10 years, the success of the first Deadpool remains surprising and monumental. To craft a blockbuster around a quippy, loud, brash and fourth-wall breaking mercenary, hell-bent on murdering all in his path, seemed like a risky move at some point in the past for 20th Century Fox. Now, releasing a sequel to its 2016 superhero hit feels like a no-brainer. Building on its lower-budgeted foundations (if you can call $58 million dollars a small budget), Deadpool 2 adds more bang for your buck, more jokes to make you choke and a new roster of fresh faces to keep the story headed toward new places. So does David Leitch’s sequel match up to Tim Miller’s unexpected, side-splitting triumph? Thankfully, the answer is a resoundingly bullet-ridden yes.
Following on from the events of the first, Deadpool 2 finds the eponymous merc with a mouth, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), working through a number of contracts, much to the detriment of the criminal underworld. However, following an unforeseeably disastrous incident, Wade is forced back into the superhero fray, teaming with fellow mutants Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), along with a collection of new faces such as Domino (Zazie Beetz). Their mission? To protect unstable mutant Russell (Julian Dennison), who for reasons unexplained, finds himself facing under the unstoppable threat posed by time-travelling cyborg Cable (Josh Brolin).
Thus the action and comedic hijinks ensue, with Reynolds/Wade (sorry, it’s difficult to tell the two apart) taking shots at everything from Cable’s resemblance to another recent Marvel character, to DC’s dark tone and, of all things, George W. Bush’s political aptitude. Sure, the plot is there and it definitely has its moments: Wade, Cable and Russell get to tuck into some surprisingly emotional beats throughout. But it’s writers Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and officially credited Ryan Reynolds that deliver the ultimate goods: a gag-packed thrill-ride that refuses to take its foot off the gas.
This could make or break the experience for you: Deadpool 2 doesn’t understand the concept of a “breather”. I, personally, found the majority of the jokes landed, some moments refreshingly arousing an eruption of laughter from the audience (stay during the end credits, you won’t be disappointed). But some do fail to hit due to the non-stop nature of the film’s script and story. T.J. Miller, for example, is offered a time to shine, but his lines get lost amidst a teeming minefield of explosive belly-laughs, courtesy of the man in the red and black spandex.
Deadpool is easily and necessarily the stand-out character in Deadpool 2’s crowded line-up. From Deadpool’s pansexual flirtations with Colossus, to his confrontations with Cable that bring out the best in Reynolds’ physically comedic abilities. Reynolds lights up the screen with his charisma, a commendable feat considering the anti-hero’s masked complexion. While some could have questioned the longevity of Reynolds’ efforts, asking whether the first film was a strike of luck, Deadpool 2 puts these concerns to rest: Reynolds is now synonymous with the character, embodying him to the extent of standing tall beside Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark and Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine.
Unfortunately, the same can’t quite be said of his supporting numbers who, aren’t ultimately given enough material to chew on to make their characters truly stick. Cable, for example, loses some of the temporal complexity that was present in the comics: he’s effectively a more emotive T-800 from The Terminator, though he does rock a futuristic arsenal that’d make Arnie blush. Furthermore, Domino, while exuding a charm thanks to Beetz’ sardonic line delivery, is just there for show: her inexplicable powers – she’s a walking four-leaf-clover effectively – provide visual delights, but we learn little about her bar one throwaway line. Brolin and Beetz are solid in the film, but for this reason, I wish I’d been given a little more from both.
Luckily, they’re caught in some visually exhilarating action sequences that distract from the narrative detractions. With David Leitch replacing Tim Miller on directing duties, the action was always going to be the highlight. Recalling Leitch as the co-director behind contemporary fan-favourite John Wick and the filmmaker responsible for last year’s frivolous Atomic Blonde, Leitch delivers what one expects from him at this point: bullets, blood and ballet. Watching Deadpool flip about in high heels and a blonde wig that’d turn Dolly Parton green, removing the heads of his victims with his dual-wielding katanas, is a sight to behold and Leitch captures it with kinetic glee alongside DOP Jonathan Sela. Also, prepare yourself for an extended chase sequence that puts Keanu Reeves’ destructive race in Speed to shame.
Towards the beginning of Deadpool 2, caught in an opening monologue, Deadpool describes this sequel as the family-orientated successor to the romantically inclined original. Focusing on his exploits with the volatile Russell and his newfound teammates, one wouldn’t be amiss from recognizing this as an unexpected fact. This furnishes Deadpool 2 with a surprising amount of heartfelt heft, particularly for a film that prides itself on its ability to dismantle pop culture. But first and foremost, Deadpool 2 is just that: a satirical deconstruction of blockbuster moments, cameos and superhero scenarios. Sure, Wade undergoes what could be called a ‘Deadpoolian’ transformation, learning values that would make Vin Diesel/Dominic Toretto proud. But it’s all about the film’s unforgiving humour, its faculty for subverting expectations and the uncontainable charm of its lead actor. In these three areas, Deadpool 2 supplies some irresistible entertainment, a pleasurable palette-cleanser following the morose memory of Avengers: Infinity War’s dour moments. A maximum effort from all involved.
Dir: David Leitch
Prd: Simon Kinberg, Ryan Reynolds, Lauren Shuler Donner
Scr: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Ryan Reynolds
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, Julian Dennison, T.J. Miller, Stefan Kapičić, Brianna Hildebrand
DOP: Jonathan Sela
Music: Tyler Bates
Runtime: 119 minutes
Country: United States
Deadpool 2 is in cinemas worldwide.