It’s been two anxious years since Tim Miller’s Deadpool became one of my go-to superhero favorites. Two years after Ryan Reynolds re-entered Hollywood’s spandex fray with an upturned middle finger to *every* comic book movie preconception. David Leitch’s Deadpool 2 had some massive Crocs to fill in terms of time passed and anticipation stored, which – if you’ve been reading early buzz on social media – seems to be mission accomplished. “Funnier, actionier, and more in-your-face referential,” waxed Tweeters who simultaneously issued disclaimers like “As someone who didn’t enjoy Deadpool…” – an interesting assertion, in my opinion. Why? Because as someone who *massively* enjoyed Deadpool, the sequel stands as a still-raucous step backward.
To be fair, though, can you really improve on near-perfection?
Deadpool 2 is less an exploration of the Merc himself and more an excuse to make fun of Marvel’s MCU, WB’s DCEU, Fox’s X-Men and just about any other pop culture reference caught in between. This is not ”Game Over,” mind you. You’re getting a positive Deadpool 2 review. Hooray for surprises outside trailer bait that’d make Tony Stark blush and Steve Rogers puke. Yakuza thugs get hacked apart, DP ups his regeneration ante and he’s even got X-Force friends! It’s just – sigh – there’s so much detail in the prologue alone that I want to discuss given how a *major* Deadpool motivation is peddled back on for dramatic effect (which won’t be revealed, because #spoilers).
Get used to the fact that Wade Wilson wants to die. Oh so very badly. And not only because Logan had to balls to kill off Wolverine and show Deadpool up. Ryan Reynolds gets in touch with Wade’s innermost anguish thanks to the events that transpire throughout the film. Whether it’s sharing intimate John Hughes moments with metal-bunned Colossus or attempting to save abused teen mutant Russell (Julian Dennison), Deadpool’s humor evokes a bleaker death-proof purgatory. And you know what? It looks good on Reynolds. Even if the method of unlocking such pain is a major cop-out in my book.
Of course, you’re hyped for Deapool’s antics (not tongue-in-cheek Oscar drama). How many chimichanga references, what’s the gore level, how heroic is Peter – questions of this nature. Does Deadpool 2 ride sarcasm into the sunset, or whiff on nostalgic mockery dolled without restraint? The answer is the former, thanks to maximum effort.
Deadpool 2’s needle-droppin’ music licensing budget appears to be the size of three indie productions. Every action scene scores at least one emotional ballad atop otherwise vicious katana slicing, while slow-mo hip-hop jams reuse the same cool-guys-strut-together album cover staging. Deadpool’s workin’ “9 to 5” with a little help from Dolly Parton and comparing Frozen to Yentl – hell, there’s even a Bond homage (and yes, opening credit names are goofs again).
Music department choices freely skewer dire circumstances, but go a bit overboard by turning once-in-a-while surprises into habitual beats. It’s not enough to ruin the mood, but we certainly get the point three times over (except more Run The Jewels – always include more Run The Jewels).
Humor picks up exactly where Deadpool‘s foul-mouthed, mile-a-minute sarcasm left off. You’ll never see a better Basic Instinct reference, nor post-credits scene, nor cameo (cameos, even). Wade pokes fun at everyone from the Avengers to Patrick Stewart (Professor Xavier), but like with the needle drops, name bragging can cause momentary fatigue when rattled off like a snare drum roll.
Punchlines are explained beyond necessity (we get it, it’s a Basic Instinct nod) and nostalgic or geek-out burns assert focal priority. Drawn out segments pass with nary a giggle despite Cable (Josh Brolin) canonically shitting on EDM, as some jokes feel out of place even in Deadpool’s world. Mind the gaps while the Merc roasts millennials and capes alike – smaller gaps, mind you, so as not to suggest that Deadpool 2 is anything but ball-busting hilarity.
Noteworthy additions to the supporting mutant roster only bolster an already strong side crew. Zazie Beetz rocks the most unflinching poker face as Domino in contrast to Deadpool’s disbelief in “luck,” while Brolin’s time-traveling super-soldier grimaces sourly as if the titular anti-hero’s very existence is a source of volcanic agita.
Their chemistry feeds into the obnoxiously confident and ready-for-afterlife DP, alternatively to how Dennison’s “Firefist” misfit is a clashing catalyst who acts to save Deadpool from himself. I wasn’t a fan of the easy fat-shaming jokes at the expense of a “plus sized” hero in Russell, but it’s a Deadpool movie, so it’s par for the course. Other treatments make up for the standard physical jabs, too.
Then you’ve got the newly minted X-Force. Bill Skarsgård as Zeitgeist, Terry Crews as Bedlam, Lewis Tan as Shatterstar, Rob Delaney as Peter, the aforementioned Domino, and the invisible “Vanisher” (if he/she even exists). All you need to know is this could be the start of something *big* depending on how their future treatment is handled. Sweet, tender Peter – the dad-bod hero of our generation (and as funny as the trailers provide).
As Deadpool breaks the fourth wall and ridicules Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s script for “lazy writing,” it’s hard *not* to agree with certain microscopic dissections. Motivations are largely formulaic and reductive in comparison to 2016’s tightly-wound, lean-as-hell “origin” story. Where that film benefitted from Reynolds’ performance and a few unlikely friends (Brianna Hildebrand’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead/Stefan Kapicic’s Colossus), Deadpool 2 sacrifices evolution for in-jokes, out-jokes and any other joke Wade can verbally spew.
Cram Deadpool 2 full of new characters, turn his narcissism and Cable’s mega-blaster up to 11 and watch the fireworks explode – all while a story plays out that seems secondhand at best. It’s an overstuffed cinematic burrito that impressively holds together (XXL sized), but requires a diner’s hunched-over eating pose (re: Guy Fieri) as some forgotten morsels fall to the wayside with each hearty bite (Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s “added for substance” lesbian relationship with Yoiki, for example).
But hey, that’s small potatoes as far as most will be concerned, and like I said, lots of people are *loving* this movie. Sounds like if you really “didn’t care for” the first (a nice way of summarizing all the nasty Deadpool comments previously uttered), sequelitis won’t hit too hard. Or at all.
Alright, time to stick the landing.
Deadpool 2 will leave you in stitches from both brutal wounds and a no-fucks attitude that reign nacho supreme once again. David Leitch’s John Wick experience lends itself to a bullet-pumped opening and dangerous Act II loaded with beatdowns (camera rotations become a signature style point), while Ryan Reynolds bares it all as the Merc With A Mouth just as we’d hope.
Expect more guffaws (unfortunately this means a few more misses), more gifable pranks, and plenty of cocksure superhero berating that doesn’t care about playing “nice” in Hollywood’s sandbox – who *doesn’t* want to see Deadpool as a frustrated X-Men “Trainee?” Welcome your new recruits and embrace the Deadpoolishness we’re gifted once again. You’re still in good hands this second time around, even if the Merc’s persona is viewed more as a gimmick.
Deadpool 2 is an overstuffed cinematic burrito of raunchy insults, dismembering violence and a "no f#*ks given" attitude that's ready to burst at any second, but somehow holds together bite after enjoyable bite.