Starring: Ryan Reynolds (The Hitman’s Bodyguard), Josh Brolin (Sicario), Morena Baccarin (Serenity), Julian Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople), Zazie Beetz (Atlanta), TJ Miller (Ready Player One), Brianna Hildebrand (Tragedy Girls)
Director: David Leitch (Atomic Blonde)
Writers: Rhett Rheese & Paul Wernick (Zombieland) & Ryan Reynolds
Runtime: 1 hour 59 minutes
Release Date: 15 May (UK), 18 May (US)
It’s hard to imagine that just a few years ago, 20th Century Fox wasn’t even willing to make Deadpool. But one leaked test video and a million screeching fans later, it became not only one of the most successful R-rated films of all time but more successful than any of its X-Men cousins. With Deadpool 2, the training wheels have been taken off but the infamous Merc with a Mouth had an even more difficult task ahead of itself: blow our minds all over again…with a magic trick we’ve already seen. The final result is a film that matches it predecessor consistently, even exceeding it in certain areas, but probably won’t set the world on fire or anything.
In comparison to other recent comic book sequels, Deadpool 2 most resembles Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Both are attempting to recapture the same sense of fun and quirkiness that defined their predecessors but, for better or worse, ultimately put most of their efforts into upping the emotional bar over spectacle or humour. That’s not to say that Deadpool 2 isn’t a hilarious action-packed ride. This movie jumps from zero to sixty within the first three minutes and stays there throughout the brisk two hours it has to tell its story, packing the proceedings with set pieces and comedy routines galore. However, where the film falters is in how it tells its story. Whereas the first film was a relatively simply revenge/love story made unique by its non-linear structure and self-deprecating humour, the sequel aims a little higher and doesn’t quite stick the landing. Saying much more would spoil it, but to summarise I’d say Deadpool 2’s main failure is that doesn’t reconcile its irreverent core with its emotional intentions quite as well.
Ryan Reynolds was born to play Deadpool and he is as obnoxious and in-your-face here as he was in the first whilst still somehow remaining relatable and endearing. Even if the film itself struggles to balance tone, Reynolds himself does and delivers a phenomenal performance that develops the character in fascinating ways. Josh Brolin is perfectly cast as Cable and bounces his gruff demeanour off of Reynolds’ antics to consistently comical effect, whilst Zazie Beetz is effortlessly cool and charming as the perpetually fortunate Domino; they practically deserve movies of their own. Morena Baccarin’s Vanessa has a smaller but just-as-vital role here, once again acting as Wade Wilson’s moral compass, whilst returning supporting players like Leslie Uggams, Karan Soni, Brianna Hildebrand and Stefan Kapicic continue to bring the laughs as their respective characters. The only recurring actor to feel undercooked is TJ Miller’s Weasel, with the character given little to do and not much funny to say. Given his lack of importance and Miller’s recent…um, “public difficulties”…I wonder why he was kept around at all. The film’s new MVP is easily Julian Dennison as the fiery teen Russell who, whilst essentially playing his Hunt for the Wilderpeople character again, adds both a new layer of comedy and emotional depth to the film and is arguably a better foil to Deadpool than Cable even is. The film’s main character weakness is (and I’ll avoid saying exactly who they are) its villains, who feel a little too generic and undercooked especially when compared to the simple but effective adversaries of the first film. They serve their purpose, and one of them is a really fun surprise at first, but they lack a sense of personality or an element of subversion that would have really set them apart.
As opposed to original director Tim Miller, who relied much more on his VFX expertise to deliver the action, David Leitch’s experience with stuntwork on the likes of John Wick and Atomic Blonde leads to Deadpool 2 being a more practical affair than its predecessor. There’s still a ton of CGI and it’s all done on par with the average superhero blockbuster, but the fight choreography here is far more visceral and tangible this time around, and not just because the gore factor has been turned up to eleven too. There are some great standout action sequences to behold here that are often just as funny as they are entertaining, and they are all shot and cut sharply and without incoherence. Tyler Bates’ score for the sequel is not as memorable as Junkie XL’s tunes for the first, but the film’s soundtrack choices more than pick up the slack.
If you liked Deadpool, you will also more likely than not like Deadpool 2. It is just as inherently funny and entertaining as the first, and I could certainly see some declaring it to be superior to the original. From my perspective, I don’t think there’s much else they could have thrown in to make this a better movie, so I can’t exactly say they didn’t try or failed in any spectacular way. Deadpool 2 is just another sequel to a nearly perfect movie that can’t help but feel like a letdown in some ways. It’s a movie that delivers everything it promises, but doesn’t offer that same sense of surprise that only the first film could ever pull off. Then again, if they did anything too radically different, it wouldn’t be Deadpool anymore. If you’re already interested, you’re going to have a great time, almost guaranteed. I just personally don’t see this one having the staying power or the pop culture impact the first one did.
FINAL VERDICT: 8.5/10