What is Deadpool 2?
Following the events of the first Deadpool, the Merc with a Mouth finds himself zipping around the world fighting crime and firing off wisecracks. But when tragedy strikes, he’s left reeling. After a young mutant lands them both in hot water, they find themselves facing an adversary in the form of Josh Brolin’s Cable, a cybernetic soldier on a singular mission that Deadpool wants to thwart at all costs. It’s not easy, however, with his young ward hellbent on dishing out his own brand of justice and the difficulties he faces assembling a team that’s up to the job.
From the James Bond-style opening credits to the jokes that lack surprise and oompf second time around, Deadpool 2 falls short of feeling as fresh and relevant as its pioneering predecessor. It follows the same tack as the first, and there’s certainly an element of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” at play here. But where the original film was such a subversive, groundbreaking delight, the sequel is very much seen-it-all-before done better.
Once again, the film begins with its upending the traditional opening credits routine, with funnies and insults replacing the real names of those involved in the creative process. It uses the opportunity to lampoon Bond movie opening titles – something we’ve seen done before on numerous occasions. This time around, Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool shtick all feels a little hackneyed. That goes for the irrelevant references lost on huge swathes of its audiences, overstuffed action set-pieces, and hit-and-miss jokes.
Using the same device as the first, Deadpool 2 drops us straight into a crazy situation from the get-go, then rewinds to show us how it got there. But relax – it gets this bit over with much quicker than it does in the first so fans can get on with enjoying the action unfold in real-time and not feel like we’re watching a complete step-by-step rehash of the first.
For a bit anyway. Because it soon gets back into trying to emulate its forerunner, in terms of quickfire jokes at any rate. Which is what we want, to be fair — it was what made the first so awesome, not to mention novel. Problem is, they don’t all land the way they did in the original. It’s like launching a bunch of one-liners out of an aeroplane and watching all but one or two parachute awkwardly to their sad demise.
Some of the jokes just feel tired – and that’s both visual gags and one-liners. Is it still funny to make fun of Crocs? Recycling jokes like this from the turn of the century feels outdated and, frankly, a bit lazy. Upgrade the gag to Balenciaga’s platform Crocs and you might have a viable thigh-slapper here.
It’s not that Deadpool 2 doesn’t have gags to make you laugh. It does. It just could have been more on point, and more inventive and relevant with its jocularity. Producer, star and co-writer Reynolds is a fan of incorporating leftfield references, which isn’t a bad thing per se. But when they’re explained, it takes the gas right out of them. The running Yentl gag excepted. This is one obscure reference that works, especially when you factor in that Barbra Streisand, who starred in the film, is the stepmother of Cable actor Josh Brolin. Very meta. But then that’s what Reynolds’ Deadpool is all about. Breaking the fourth wall and just having fun. There’s even a mention of Patrick Stewart by name, even though there are also references to Professor X. Mind blown.
More is Too Much
Director David Leitch brings his John Wick background to the party, and it works for some of it until the action gets tiresome. The early part, where it’s a summary of what Deadpool has been up to in the interim period between films, is slick, bloody and inventive. The action moves rapidly from Hong Kong to Sicily to Tokyo to Biloxi, Mississippi and back home again to a soundtrack of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” as the besuited Wade Wilson goes about his international superhero crime-busting business. It’s a shame the latter action doesn’t match up to this early promise.
TJ Miller as Weasel is on top form delivering some of the film’s best lines in his signature way. You’ll wish maybe that he’d been taken along for the ride as the film approaches its big-battle finale.
Julian Dennison’s Russell, meanwhile, makes a decent one half of a double act with Deadpool for a bit – they play off one another in the way you’d hope. Pairing the hilarious young actor from Hunt for the Wilderpeople with Reynold’s wisecracking Deadpool is a recipe for comedy gold, right? He’s introduced as a mutant raised at an establishment called Essex House, a school of sorts designed for “Mutant Rehabilitation.” Here we catch our first glimpse of Eddie Marsan’s headmaster.
Returning cast member Karan Soni as taxi driver, Dopinder, is back with an extended role – great for fans who loved his scene-stealing turn in the first film — but it feels forced. While Colossus and morose teen mutant Negasonic Teenage Warhead are also back to make up the numbers in Wade’s hastily assembled and somewhat makeshift X-Force. The trailers show his efforts to put a team together and includes a medley of mutants with questionable powers.
Leitch manipulates the material in an attempt to tug on the heartstrings in the way the first managed so successfully, and there are a couple of moments here that work but otherwise, it feels as contrived as Dopinder’s expanded role. Moments between Morena Baccarin’s Vanessa and Reynolds’ Wade Wilson are sweet, however, and Baccarin, especially, is believably totally still in love.
Memories, looking back, and the damage inflicted by past pain are recurrent motifs/themes in the film. Cable, Wade and Russell are all affected by this – as well as newcomer Domino, played by Zazie Beetz, who eventually confesses to sharing something in common with young Russell, whose mutant ability is creating powerful fiery blasts from his fists.
You’ll want to see more from Rob Delaney as X-Force member, Peter, than he’s permitted to give. He’s the one addition to the team without any powers and is part of one of the film’s boldest sequences. Seriously, it will make your jaw drop. You can imagine Ryan Reynolds, after having conceived the scene, beside himself with glee for audiences to see it. You might feel a little like the joke’s on you, though. And that’s never good.
Cable, Cameos, and Watered-Down Villains
The film pays some fan service with some juicy cameos which we won’t spoil here. But perhaps the best move it makes is introducing the much-anticipated Cable. Josh Brolin’s Cable is badass, and a nice addition to the franchise, which has another three movies in its sights. Let’s hope that as it progresses, Brolin will get a greater proliferation of killer lines to really make the most of what he brings to the character. After all, he does get one of the film’s best visual gags when he does something out of character. Hey, we’re not in the business of spoiling the best bits – jokes included.
One of the biggest issues with the film is the lack of a real sense of threat, or, indeed, villain. Think back to the first, and Ed Skrein’s Francis was a nasty, sadistic piece of work whom the audience was seriously encouraged to turn strongly against. Here, the film’s early villain doesn’t stick around for long, then Cable is introduced as the antagonist, and then there are two or three others also on the wrong side of good. The film’s ultimate bad guy is someone we don’t get to spend much time with, and that’s problematic. It affects the pacing and the tension and leaves the film feeling very much like a series of comedy and action set pieces strung together, ultimately providing a soft set-up for the next film.
A Post-Credits Winner
The best part of the film is — hands down — its post-credits sequence, which could have been extended to make it the film’s entire final act and would have been a whole lot more satisfying. It squeezes a lot in here, including a sequence that could prefigure what’s next to come in Avengers 4. That’s probably coincidental, but knowing how Ryan Reynolds operates with his superhero vehicle, don’t bank on that.
Anyway, it’s the most exciting turn of events in the film, and also the source of the film’s most brutal burns. It leaves the film on a high and leaves you wishing they’d spent way more time on this part.
Is Deadpool 2 Good?
Expectations were high for a sequel to a superhero movie that broke the mold. Deadpool was a film that gave the Marvel Cinematic Universe something to chew on and influenced a number of the one-time rival studio’s films following its success. But it was clearly too much to hope for that Deadpool 2 could reinvent the genre again. Instead, it relies on its tried-and-tested formula in an attempt to try to recreate the success of its predecessor.
Deadpool blended a cracking sense of humour and rat-a-tat jokes, every one of which hit home, with a touching tale about an antihero with a heartbreakingly horrific backstory seeking revenge. Deadpool 2 can’t help but falter with a less accurate strike rate in all areas. But Cable’s introduction to the franchise and the film’s stellar post-credits sequence lift the sequel significantly and ultimately leave us wanting more.