WARNING – I will have to discuss a pretty big spoiler that occurs in the first act, I would try to avoid it, but it factors into the film quite heavily. It’s within the first 10-15 minutes, so it’s not too big but here’s the warning anyway.
Looking back at the history of the first Deadpool and how long it took to actually get made I forgave it for some of its shortcomings, namely in that while it was a good comedy, it lacked a strong story to make it good film overall. As such it doesn’t hold up as well on revisits, but is still a funny movie, by comparison Deadpool 2 has a much stronger narrative as well a much more impressive action set-pieces. Ironically, it’s the jokes that come up short. Maybe now living in a world where films like Logan and Infinity War have changed the comic-book movie landscape, the immaturity of Deadpool doesn’t sit as well with me, or maybe I’m just a pretentious ass who can’t have any fun.
Let’s find out.
After two years of working as a world-wide mercenary, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) has made a name for himself as someone who gets the job done, though leaving quite a bit of mess in his wake. On his anniversary with fiancée Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), Wade fails to kill a notorious drug dealer, as revenge the drug dealer attacks Wade’s apartment, killing Vanessa in the process. While Wade is able to take his revenge, his guilt over Vanessa’s death leads him to attempt suicide… which with his immortality doesn’t go quite as well as he hoped.
Found by Colossus (Stefan Kapičić), Wade is given a second chance to join the X-Men and find a family again, while still ambivalent about the whole thing, Wade joins them on a mission to restrain Russell Collins (Jullian Dennison), a young mutant at a local orphanage currently in the middle of a stand-off with the police. Things go quickly sideways when Wade realizes the staff are abusing Russell and falls back into his violent ways, resulting in the two of them getting arrested. At the same time, time-travelling mutant Cable (Josh Brolin) arrives from the future looking for Russell in retaliation for crimes he commits in Cable’s time. Still seeking redemption for Vanessa, Wade decides to save Russell, but in order to do so he needs to put a team together to take on Cable.
As I said the narrative is stronger here with Wade’s despondence over Vanessa’s death, putting him into a darker place at the start of the film and that directing him through trying to save Russell. Where the first one failed was that amongst the origin story was a too-simple tale of Wade seeking revenge on Francis. Here with Cable, the film gives itself a much stronger forward momentum with a second-act Convoy Attack making up for the lull that hurt the first Deadpool. It’s not perfect and the ending slows down a little too much for my liking – one joke goes on far too long – but the end credit scene make up for that.
Character work is mixed, obviously this being a comedy you’re not expecting fully defined arcs, but there’s definitely more that could’ve been done with some characters. Morena Baccarin obviously has little to do after her death (though she does still factor into the film in a way I won’t spoil) but her and Reynolds still have solid chemistry in the time they have together. But Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) feels like an extended cameo, she has some fun scenes with her new girlfriend Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna – a source of light-hearted joy in the gory world of Deadpool) but she really doesn’t do anything until the last act and even that’s not much. Similarly Colossus, while having more to do than Negasonic, feels underutilized until the final act, thankfully he gets a pretty decent fight scene, but it’s strange that two characters already established in the universe aren’t factored into the story better.
If I had to guess I’d say they were sidelined to make room for the newer characters, out of everyone on Deadpool’s team – including a bad-ass Bedlam (Terry Crews), an over-his-head Peter (Rob Delaney) and a surprising 2 second cameo – the one who stands out most is Domino (Zazie Beetz), a mutant with the ability to change luck (good luck for her, bad luck for her enemies). With such an undefined concept as ‘luck’ being her superpower, Wade is constantly calling her out on it, but Domino runs with it because she knows how good she is and can back it up. It’s fun to see someone so calm about their abilities and being able to match Wade for confident, she’s a definite standout and hopefully has a place in the series going forward.
For anyone that’s seen Hunt For The Wilderpeople (and if you haven’t do so now), watching Ricky Baker as a fire-controlling mutant is a lot of fun. Dennison has a great comic timing, but more importantly that comedy type of ‘No F**ks To Give’ fits in perfectly with Deadpool’s humor as well as providing hints of why Cable is after him. It’s a very fun role, but played with enough charm that even when he starts getting pushed towards a darker path, you still want Russell to come out of this clean.
Coming off his incredible turn as Thanos, Brolin takes on Nathan Summers, known primarily as Cable and the son of Cyclops and a Jean Grey Clone…. naturally comic-book weirdness is mostly avoided, though I’m surprised they never had a scene between Cable and Cyclops considering they reference an even stranger family relationship later on. It’s hard not to compare Cable to Thanos giving their proximity to each other and Cable does come off short by comparison, but he’s still a good villain. His completely straight-laced, uber-serious approach clashes well with Wade’s irreverent bullshit and hopefully going forward Brolin can take on a straight-man approach to reel in some of the craziness. Playing bad-ass isn’t a difficult task for Brolin, but what makes him stand out as Cable is how little he has to say in order to pull that off. Again contrasting with Wade who never shuts up, I am interested to see how the two of them handle each other in the future.
Speaking of Wade, Ryan Reynolds takes on the red suit again for the role he was born to play; and then play again because Origins was a pile of ass. Even so, I feel I’m gonna be controversial here and say I wasn’t a huge fan of Wade here, I felt like he was a little too dickish, and lacking in the right amount of charm to pull it off. Now this could be due to context and the loss of Vanessa has hurt him significantly, but the fact that he’s still wise cracking and fanboying out suggests he’s not AS hurt as the film wants him to be. Part of what made Reynolds work in the first film was the dual role of Wade and Deadpool, as Wade he carried a surprising amount of heart through his romance with Vanessa and we spent enough time to like the two of them as a couple. While as Deadpool, he was psychotic, murderous, and off-the-chain, ironically what kicks off the entire film is what ruins Wade’s character, without Vanessa to separate the two, both wade and Deadpool become harder to distinguish between and neither are as likable. Reynolds still nails the key points of the character and even do so with this darker version, it’s just the darker version isn’t one I wanted to spend a couple hours with.
Directing duties this time round fall to David Leitch, one half of the team that directed John Wick, and straight off the bat, you can tell that action wise he’s a great choice. From the opening montage of Deadpool’s world-wide adventures set to Dolly Parton’s ‘9 To 5,’ you get a sense of how well Leitch understands the character. From there the set-pieces just improve including an all-out prison-brawl with Cable, and a final act that carries more emotional weight than expected, I’d rather not spoil what happens but Russell factors in quite heavily. The aforementioned Convoy Attack is easily the highlight of the film, it’s funny, it’s insanely action-packed, it puts everyone at their best (with Domino’s skills being a particular highlight) and it ends with another surprise cameo making a big impact.
Unfortunately as I said at the start, the jokes here don’t match up to the first film which had me in stitches with the opening credits. Obviously there’s going to be hit-and-miss with comedy films, and there are still some good hits here including another solid opening credit gag. Russell’s insistent need to be tougher than he was and (without going into spoilers) ‘Shirtcocking’ which has to be seen to understand. I’ve heard a lot of people liking the parachuting scene, but to me it had about five different punchlines that got weaker as they told the same joke over and over, while the Post-Credits scenes are completely in line with the film’s humor and Deadpool as a character. Maybe it was just me, but I felt like too many of the jokes were just references to both the Marvel and DC universes and I fully expected that, but it just felt constant, like all they could do was point out what other studios have done and expected that to be funny.
And before you say that’s what Deadpool does anyway, I don’t read comics, so his fourth wall breaks mean nothing to me outside of film. In this film, it feels like that’s all he has for humor and it comes across as lacking. The genuinely funny moments were there, but the scarcity of them made them stand out as few and far between.
Like I said at the start, maybe I’m living in a different world than Deadpool now, seeing films like Logan, Infinity War, and even The Dark Knight Trilogy that kicked things off and watching how mature comic-book movies can be, watching something like Deadpool doesn’t hit the same way I wanted it to. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked the film, and it does enough to prove itself better than the first, but thinking it through, it’s only marginally better and the first film doesn’t hold up that well. I want to believe there’s room in this world for something as mad-cap as Deadpool and Reynolds has given his all to the character, but I’m not seeing the funny side anymore.
I am giving Deadpool 2 a 3 Out Of 5 Hairpieces!