- Chief Film Critic
Deadpool is a character that Ryan Reynolds was born to play. This was clearly established in 2016’s Deadpool, which was wildly successfully and unabashedly R-rated and irreverently funny. After raking in a stunning $363 million domestically, a sequel was a sure thing, they even announcing during the post-credits that a sequel was going to introduce the character of Cable.
The self-proclaimed “Merc with a Mouth” (Reynolds) is back killing heinous bad guys, taking pot shots at Wolverine, and using Dopinder (Karan Soni) as his personal taxi driver to get around. The opening voiceover from Reynolds indicates two things: that this is a family movie, and that Deadpool is going to die (and he’s pissed off at “Wolvie” for stealing his thunder). Obviously, that this is upfront at the beginning of the movie and that there will be a third Deadpool movie, this information is not that spoilerific. There are spoilers to be avoided, but none that rise to the level of Avengers: Infinity War.
Circumstances put Deadpool into the position of trainee with the X-Men, once again represented by Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), where he crosses paths with a teenage mutant named Russell (Julian Dennison), who lives at an abusive institution where the headmaster (Eddie Marsan) believes in mutant rehabilitation. In one of the movies funniest meta moments, Deadpool actually refers to him as Eddie Marsan at one point. After crossing paths this Russell, Cable (Josh Brolin) arrives from the future attempting to kill Russell, who will become a powerful and deadly mutant in the future who kills Cable’s family. With the words of Morena Baccarin’s Vanessa in his head that children give us a chance to be better people, Poolboy (as he is so nicknamed by Dopinder), forms a team of his own, X-Force, to stop Cable and protect Russell.
Deadpool is known for his jokes, his self-awareness as a comic book character, and his ability to heal and regenerate. Everything is on full display in this sequel, at some points literally, such as in the funniest scene in the movie when he is re-growing the lower half of his body after he was ripped in two. There are few things more unsettling and yet gut-bustingly funny than seeing a full grown man on baby legs.
The jokes and references start early and keep up throughout the film. Reference is made to Deadpool being the second highest-grossing R-rated film of all-time behind only The Passion of the Christ. Shots are taken at DC Comics, Wolverine/Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds himself, the X-Men, Batman, and many, many more. When running his mouth at Cable, there are references made to Thanos, who Brolin just portrayed in Infinity War, and to The Goonies, which Brolin was in over thirty years ago. There’s commentary on how “”Papa Can You Hear Me?” from Yentl sounds like “Do You Want To Build a Snowman?” from Frozen. I also didn’t make the connection to Black Panther when Deadpool crosses his arms and says “X-Foce” until I was in the theater despite it being in the trailers. None of the biting humor is lessened in any way from the first movie; in fact, it’s probably amped up a bit more.
The formation of X-Force is another highlight, with Deadpool and his best friend Weasel (T.J. Miller) holding open casting calls for mutants to be in their group. Among others, they end up with Domino (Zazie Beatz) on the team, whose mutant power is being lucky, which plays out in very unique and entertaining ways. She ends up playing the most prominent role in the X-Force. Along with Brolin and Reynolds, she gives the best performance. Hilariously, they add a regular guy by the name of Peter (Rob Delaney) to the group as well.
While the action in Deadpool was pretty strong, it’s even better this second time around under the steady hand of director David Leitch, who previously co-directed John Wick and directed Atomic Blonde. As a former stuntman, he has a great eye for action sequences. The script from returning co-writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick is a bit more consistent in tone overall, and Reynolds himself even gets a co-writing credit on the film. The story is about family, though definitely in the most non-traditional, loosest form of the word. It’s not going to be an Oscar nominated screenplay, but it’s more than serviceable for the action comedy that it is. It taps into themes that have been explored in X-Men movies and other movies involving time travel in order to change the outcome of the future.
Brolin as Cable is a nice contrast to Deadpool, a stoic hard as nails cybernetic soldier from the future. His body is half-machine. Brolin brings some life and warmth to this generic action character that is on a dark mission. It’s further proof that Josh Brolin is one our finest and most versatile current actors.
Coming so close on the heels of Infinity War, it’s refreshing that Deadpool 2 is so different tonally that it prevents one from suffering from comic book movie fatigue. There is definitely market saturation going on with superhero movies, but Deadpool finds a way to stand out from the masses. It’s part of what makes the character so popular and appealing to fans. Deadpool 2 does not suffer from any sophomore slump; rather, it exceeds some aspects of the first movie. With plenty of knowing laughs, consistent breakage of the fourth wall, and some solid action, Deadpool 2 is worth forming your own group to go see it. And be sure to find yourself a Peter.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars