An exceptionally naughty, hilariously meta return.
Lewd, loud, bloody, ballsy (emphasis on the ballsy); Deadpool is a refreshing entity in the current superhero climate. A more mature (or immature depending on how you look at it) break from the generally toned down delights of the comic book genre, the wise-cracking hero’s first solo outing was a mild triumph. Bringing his unique, effortless fourth wall breaking skills even further than in his previous smash hit entry (which means he’s now talked about in the same conversation as Jesus – The Passion of the Christ is the biggest worldwide R-rated movie), his self-certified ‘family’ sequel is about as Deadpooly as a film could be, so if his brand of humour is your bag of cocaine, prepare your gut for constant laughter, and maybe even be ready for a tear or two.
Wade Wilson AKA Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is depressed. In the face of tragedy, growing loneliness and rescuing young Russell (Julian Dennison), a mutant with pyrotechnic powers and serious anger management issues, he forms a rag-tag group of supposed heroes, and calls it X-Force – yes it is a “little derivative”.
This is all while Russell is being hunted down by a futuristic “grumpy old fuck with a Winter Soldier arm”, Cable (Josh Brolin). Brolin is of course dominating the world in more ways than one at the moment – the prolific actor plays another pretty important superhero villain in Avengers: Infinity War. Thankfully, you needn’t worry about that overshadowing his stern space ranger here (even when the Merc with a Mouth jokes about it).
The casting for cable inspired a roster of suggestions at the time, with many putting forward Avatar’s Stephen Lang as the most suitable candidate. But Brolin punches and blasts his way through the role thrillingly, making for a captivating presence that also introduces an interesting dynamic with the titular hero – Cable doesn’t struggle to put a mild beating on him. Like the Buzz Lightyear to Deadpool’s Woody, they’re an electric pairing.
The inclusion of Cable as a main villain (of sorts) puts the film on a more steady trajectory than its former entry, which was let down by a not-so-intimidating foe. But there’s way, way more at play here in terms of plot than a mere origin story. Reynolds, alongside returning writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, chips in with his unequivocal handle on the witty chatterbox, with the team going even further with the fourth wall insults (yeah, there’s a Martha joke in there). Naturally, not every *wink wink* works, some puns coming off flat and a little hollow, but they’re few and far between. Generally, there’s a clear, affectionate love for the humour that drives Deadpool and has made him as popular as he is – the finest, most meta mid-credits screen ever crafted shows this in abundance.
Reynolds is a born natural, playing the role he was put on this Earth to perform with a fearless gusto and charm. Even when he slaps his hands on his face and gasps, it arouses at the very least, a chuckle. This is a superhero movie with absolutely maximum effort from all parties; director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde, John Wick) brings his kinetic, inventive action pedigree to the table, upping the grisly ante from the previous entry. The filmmaker said himself in an interview that what interests him most about Deadpool is his apparent invulnerability – a concept Leitch has deliciously brutal and hilarious fun with (watch out for that prison table). That being said, while Reynolds and co. enjoy the explicit jollity, some are shortchanged. This includes Brolin, who will likely play a much bigger role next time. But mainly, this applies to the scene-stealing Domino (Zazie Beets), a superhero whose power is ‘luck’. One may agree with the Merc’s concern that it isn’t “very cinematic”, but Leitch puts this to the test, gleefully showcasing the newcomer’s invincibility in continually awesome fashion.
But the film’s greatest strength is its capacity to still surprise. There’s a recurring theme of superhero fatigue, but this is an entertaining palette cleanser with a solid emotional core. Deadpool is a motormouth, but he has feelings too, you know. So taking that, breathlessly violent action, the appearance of a classic X-Men nemesis (no spoilers, but it’s not Magneto) and utterly hilarious moments (think Basic Instinct), you have a fantastically superior follow up.