Deadpool 2 is a triumph of the genre of R-rated action comedy whose only peers are its predecessor and a few Shane Black movies. The major problem with this is the very obvious comparison to the first, which it doesn’t quite live up to, despite patented “Maximum Effort.”
The first was such a breath of fresh air and countered so many expectations. This is another bloated summer blockbuster sandwiched between Infinity War and Solo, and maybe we’re having a bit of remorse at eating at the all-you-can-geek-buffet of the Summer of 2018. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, after Infinity War’s dour ending, Deadpool 2 is the palate cleanser many of us need.
Enter our anti-hero, Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), who has become a worldwide assassin. But when he reaps the whirlwind from a hit gone wrong, he takes up with his frenemies the X-Men as a trainee. They begin tracking a troubled teenage mutant, who is also being hunted by time travelling mutant Cable (Josh Brolin). To keep up, Deadpool founds his own team called X-Force, and. . . wackiness ensues.
Anyone who owns a trade of Deadpool and Cable knows where this movie is heading, so there shouldn’t be too many shocking plot twists. However, the movie sure takes its time getting there. It starts with an absolutely gonzo bonkers opening, culminating with a James-Bond-style opening credits scene while Celine Dion sings.
Aside — Can we please make sure this is nominated for Best Song for the Oscars?
And then. . . it sure takes its time before getting going again. The middle half of the film is packed full of jokes and even a few cool action setpieces here and there, but it doesn’t ever get back to that place of greatness until its last half hour or so. And then it’s sheer perfection. It tops it all off with the single greatest post credits sequence of all time—worth the price of admission itself.
This begs the question, why pad the middle so much? One of the best parts of the first Deadpool was its all-killer-no-filler pace and leanness. This film felt like it was waiting for something (its sudden but inevitable twist!) to take that next step.
This is also surprising for director David Leitch, whom the credits refer to as “One of the guys who killed John Wick’s dog.” Leitch’s previous work on the John Wick movies and Atomic Blonde show not only a great sense of pace, but also a visual style and flair that is missing from this film. This film felt workmanlike and studio-approved-as-safe, but never pushed any boundaries. And that’s what Deadpool is great at.
Also what Deadpool is great at is understanding he is in a movie. That has never been more clear until Deadpool 2. That humor is front and center in the movie, as Deadpool kills not only every bad guy he comes across, but also mourns the death of Logan, kills himself (multiple times), kills different versions of hmself, kills Ryan Reynolds, and on and on and on. It’s so self-aware, and pushes home that if a Fox-Disney merger goes through, Deadpool will be the king of franchise-skewering and post credits scene massacres and cameos.
And while the film lies pretty squarely on the shoulders of Reynolds and Brolin, the supporting performances are really what make the film. Julian Dennison (who was also in Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople¸which is quickly becoming a major geek nexus) is Russell, our young mutant in need. Like his counterpart in Wilderpeople, he’s more likely to flip you the bird than say thank you, so he’s perfect for Deadpool.
Also pitch perfect is Zazie Beetz, who plays Domino. While Deadpool derides her mutant power of “luck” as being stupid and “not cinematic enough,” it is, in fact, her performance and powers that give the film what visual brilliance and fun it has. Unfortunately, too much of it comes too late in the film, leaving us wondering why we couldn’t have more Domino earlier.
And finally, a moment to talk about Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who it is revealed in this movie, has a girlfriend named Yukio.
Bravo to Fox, who is the first studio to reveal any sort of LGBTQIA superhero on screen in a major superhero franchise. You’d think it wouldn’t have taken this long, but it somehow did. And? It’s treated with such a non-plussed attitude, it’s refreshing. Yes she has a girlfriend. No, it’s not a big deal. At all. And isn’t that how it should be?
So this is a really fun film. It starts strong, then takes a nap for about 45 minutes while it churns through all of the plot, and then gets really great again. Deadpool fans will get everything they want and more. And it makes you even more amped for sequels featuring Cable, Domino, and everyone else.
4 out of 5 stars