Directed by David Leitch
Written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick & Ryan Reynolds
Deadpool was a major hit when it came out in 2016. It was raunchy, it was irreverent, it wa ultra-violent, it was a different way to look at a superhero. Deadpool was an anti-hero, but one well worth liking. Due to its very hard R rating, I can’t think of how many times I had to tell friends with kids that it is in no way age appropriate. That being said, it was a rather fun little traipse through setting the superhero movie genre on its head. It was unique, different, pushed the envelope, etc., etc. But while I liked Deadpool well enough, I can’t say I came to its sequel with much anticipation or expectation, mainly because, while I enjoyed the original film, the raunchy, violent style which made it such a hit is not typically my favorite style of film, which resulted in Ryan Reynolds’ antics rubbing me the wrong way, and therefore giving me mixed feeling about what made Deadpool work as well as it did.
In the sequel, it seems the filmmakers decided to double down on their dirty minds and somehow it seems to work better than the first, perhaps because there’s a much better story at the center, one that actually has heart. In the first installment, our hero Wade Wilson (Reynolds) has fallen for Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), and he is ready to make the next step by starting a family. But when some rogue thugs kill her in the crossfire during a hit on Wade gone wrong, Deadpool must find the will go on, and in fact create a relationship with a talented young mutant named Russell (Julian Dennison) in order to save the boy from Cable (Josh Brolin), a time traveler who wants to stop Russell before he causes problems with the future. Deadpool, with the help of his friend Weasel (T.J. Miller), assembles a team to help him take on Cable and save Russell.
I think what makes Deadpool 2 so much better than the first is that is is able to balance what I didn’t like the first time around (story) with what makes it so attractive to many of its fans (the raunchy, violent style). While 2 creates a well realized story that includes meaningful character arcs for its three main characters, Wade, Cable and Russell, it’s not a film that has to sacrifice any of its authenticity, any of what makes Deadpool, Deadpool, which will be a delight to fans of the irreverent superhero, as well as those hoping to see more than a couple of dicks jokes and some blood spewing across the screen. I made the joke in my head immediately afterword, inspired by Deadpool himself, that the film goes soft, but not limp. Instead it stays hard (R that is), while also adding a layer of sensitivity that makes it that much more satisfying.
Reynolds really assumes this role extremely well, and I wonder how much of the film truly belongs to his pen, as he is one of the three credited screenwriters for the film. I can’t think of another actor who could command this character as well as he does. I’ve also grown warm to the brand of humor, believe it or not, which includes digs to about every pop culture reference imaginable. At first, even here, I was rolling my eyes. “Oh lord, another pop culture reference.” But it somehow works. Reynolds’ charm in the role just makes it work. And to be honest, it feels like for somethings, Celine Dion, etc., that they’re poking fun at them, but it toes the line so wonderfully that I’m also convinced that Reynolds and company truly embrace these reference, and are not just making fun of them. It works. I don’t have any freaking idea how, but they make it work.
So the brand of humor is back and just as funny, Deadpool is just as irreverent and violent, but we get this decent family/responsibility/love story in the middle of our Deadpool movie, which like I said rises the film about its first outing. Everything’s not perfect though. Take Cable for instance, and the director of the school from which Russell comes, who likes to lord over his mutants in an overtly racist and discriminatory manner. These villains don’t entirely work. Brolin is nice as Cable, and his story line has a twist or two which makes for surprising character development, but this is less a movie about Deadpool seeking out the baddie and kicking ass and more about him protecting and trying to save Russell in some way or another, and come to terms of the death of Vanessa. They afford for some touching moments, but ultimately there are some lulls in the storyline which keep this film from being truly spectacular cinema, even if a lot of the jokes are of the true belly busting variety.