Review – ‘Deadpool 2’ finds the balance between irreverent and infuriating

Poster for 2018 comedy superhero sequel Deadpool 2

Genre: Comedy
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 15th May 2018
Runtime: 119 minutes
Director: David Leitch
Writer: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Ryan Reynolds
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, TJ Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Eddie Marsan, Stefan Kapičić
Synopsis: Deadpool and his newly formed X-Force team fight to save a mutant teenager from the hulking cyborg who has travelled back in time to capture and kill him.

 

 

Moderate opinions don’t really exist when it comes to the Deadpool character. Beloved of much of the nerd world, and often irritatingly exclusive as a result, he’s a character who doesn’t give an inch to anyone who thinks pop culture nods and self-referential comedy should be used in moderation. When he finally made his way to the big screen for a solo adventure in 2016, with Ryan Reynolds finally getting to play the role in all of its glory after X-Men Origins: Wolverine sewed his mouth shut, the result was immediate. Deadpool grossed $780m worldwide and came within a whisker of smashing The Passion of the Christ‘s domestic record for an R-rated feature. That’s a tough act to follow with a sequel, but with John Wick director David Leitch at the helm, the chances to up the ante were there.

Deadpool 2 deserves all of the credit in the world for its scope and ambition, widening out the character’s world and attempting to create a film that goes beyond the basic tics and lurid one-liners that Reynolds does better than anyone else. This time, Deadpool is seeking out familial responsibility, discussing the prospect of kids with his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). He finds further reason to grow up when he comes across Russell (Julian Dennison) – a young mutant struggling to control his fiery powers. He is being pursued by vicious cyborg Cable (Josh Brolin), who has travelled from the future to settle a score.

New characters arrive in their droves throughout Deadpool 2, though the movie’s self-aware style makes it easy to introduce them without worrying too much about clunky dialogue. Brolin, who is a gruff-voiced delight as Cable, is described succintly as “a grumpy old fucker with a Winter Soldier arm” and he’s not the only character to get a pithy introduction. Halfway through the movie, Deadpool resolves to form the X-Force group, which brings in such varied characters as supernaturally lucky Domino (Zazie Beetz), acid-vomiting Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgård) and Vanisher, who’s invisible… obviously.

Deadpool 2 is bigger and bulkier than its predecessor, with a narrative that zigs and zags without any real desire for coherence and is, conservatively speaking, 20 minutes too long. With that said, it’s also considerably funnier than the first movie and delivers zingers at a rate that most major comedies can only glare at in envy. Reynolds is a gag machine, but new characters such as the aforementioned Cable and Domino get their own laugh lines in abundance, peppered with zany expletives. Watch out for Brolin’s delivery of the phrase “jabbering butt-plug” and a cracking C-bomb.

No superhero target is safe from Deadpool’s roving satirical eye, from the obvious X-Men nods the universe enables – we start with Deadpool saddened that Logan “upped the ante” with its tragic finale – to swipes at the big behemoths of Marvel and DC. Inevitably, there are some bum notes in this approach, but there’s so much material here that a lot of it inevitably lands. The comedy is nimbly interwoven with the action sequences, which are vastly improved from the first movie thanks to Leitch who, from Wick to Atomic Blonde, can take credit for some of the best fights in recent cinema history.

The growing ensemble, as compelling as many of the characters are, does sideline some of the most interesting figures. One character is pushed aside after a prologue that segues into the Bond theme homage of Celine Dion’s much ballyhooed tie-in song and Brianna Hildebrand gets nothing to do as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, despite a same sex love interest plotline that would have been genuinely progressive if it merited more than a few scenes of screen time. Fans may also be disappointed at the lack of prominence for the X-Force team, who don’t get the spotlight that trailers have suggested, though they entertain greatly in their main set piece.

Ryan Reynolds and Karan Soni return for superhero sequel Deadpool 2
Ryan Reynolds and Karan Soni return for superhero sequel Deadpool 2

In fact, the inclusion of X-Force feels more like a celebration of comic books than it does a crucial narrative device for the film. Deadpool 2, unlike its predecessor, feels like a clear homage to the world of the superhero movie, rather than an attempt at poking holes in it. The self-referential material this time around feels like it comes from a place of love and affection, which is the starting point of much of the best parody. When you don’t love the thing you’re parodying, you end up with Vampires Suck. Nobody wants that.

It’s tough to put a finger on Deadpool 2 as a work of cinema because it’s such a tangled and rambling adventure. Like a toddler looking at a fireworks display, it’s always flitting between a variety of colourful, shiny things and lacks the focus to ever stand still. This gives the movie an undeniable sense of kinetic momentum, aided by the constant and reliable rhythm of the jokes, but it sacrifices any sense at a narrative that holds together under even the most basic of scrutiny. But nobody comes to Deadpool for its story and, in the case of all of the things fans do come to see, it delivers in spades. With that in mind, stay put when the credits roll for the funniest sting the superhero craze has produced to date. It makes Thanos look restrained.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Pop!

As much an experience like a night at the pub with your nerdiest friends as it is a narrative feature film, Deadpool 2 is a big, ballsy superhero movie that consistently reinvents itself even as you’re watching it.

The constant shape-shifting means the narrative falls apart, but the performances are so fun and the dialogue so chaotically ribald that there’s always either a chuckle or an outright belly laugh just around the corner.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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