Synopsis: Following his outrageously popular origin story picture, the merc with a mouth (Ryan Reynolds) is back in DEADPOOL 2 (2018). This time around, he is depressed as hell for tragic reasons (explained in the lengthy precredits sequence) but he finds a reason to strive and struggle in the form of an abused, overweight orphan mutant (Julian Dennison) with the power to burn things with his hands. The kid has decided to call himself Firefist, which Deadpool cannot take seriously, and for some reason the lad is being hunted by a crazed cyborg from the future called Cable (Josh Brolin), which the merc can take seriously. Turns out, if left unstopped Firefist may well grow up and destroy Cable’s wife and daughter and possibly the world. That part is a little fuzzy. Through Firefist, Deadpool struggles between doing what’s right and what feels good. Two hours of bloody violence, sight gags, and gleeful fourth wall breaking follow as Deadpool looks for either a way to destroy himself or a reason to continue living. As this is the second picture in the franchise, it’s pretty obvious which one he will find. However, the journey there is pretty much the picture’s point.
After watching the fun first flick, Trista and I agreed the movie would be best without being so bogged down in origin story. Trista is a fan of the character, after all (check out her review for the Joe Kelly/Ed McGuiness omnibus if you have doubts). As it turned out, the surprising shortage of budget did not cause DEADPOOL (2016) to be the movie that either failed in general or simply failed to find its audience (though the production company seemed to assume it would do both of those) but went on to be a huge hit. The sequel was greenlit well before the movie clocked in three quarters of a billion in worldwide ticket sales. Directorship for the follow-up changed hands at least once, and though the sequel could easily fall into the pit of more of the same but just more, DEADPOOL 2 (2018) actually gives its audience a few interesting new things. Like the first film, the sequel seems to be a check of the pulse of superhero flicks in the years prior to the making. It’s also a satiric jab at their seriousness and their status as cash cows. The fact that the first movie made money and the second shows signs of doing equal business is perhaps one of the finest jokes the film has to share.
Let’s face it, superhero movies are baseline ludicrous. Sure, they can serve as stand ins and metaphors for other topics, but the core conceit is a bunch of folks dressing up in outlandish ways and beating, shooting, stabbing, or zapping one another (sometimes with collateral damage, sometimes not) and having in depth conversations about what being a hero is supposed to be like. At heart, they often share themes of identity and motifs often include the effects of psychological or physiological trauma, but at heart you’ve got group A trying to get away with something shady and group B ready to beat the holy hell out of them.
DEADPOOL 2 is all about playing YOJIMBO (1961) and dancing around from group A and group B in the name of rectifying a psychological trauma event. It has some great action set pieces, it has some fabulous humor, and it takes itself a bit more seriously than it has to. However, when the end credits roll and the extra scenes show Deadpool having an effect on “various timelines” including one where the actor Ryan Reynolds never did make it into GREEN LANTERN (2011) (“You’re welcome, Canada!” the plucky mercenary shouts when he solves that particular problem in his gloriously simple way) the movie ends up right back where it belongs: a fun and silly and sometimes touching little comedy about a gleefully murderous son of a bitch making audiences love him despite his misanthropy.
I write that from a place of respect. Deadpool isn’t all that great a guy, but we don’t need him to be. In fact, we prefer him not to be. Role model superheroes are for completely different movies. One needs to look no further than Disney’s most recent cash cow.
I appreciated the action scenes in particular. There is a quality to the creativity in those sequences that made me grin. Take some of the opening pre-credits stuff where Deadpool travels across the globe in search of a baddie. He fights a ton of mooks and neither his moves nor his opponents seem to repeat themselves. When said baddie locks himself in a panic room when Deadpool is on the clock to get home, he whines into the camera until reinforcements arrive. Then, he’s on the run again in a scene that apes the opening escape from natives in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1982). As well done as that montage is, and it is a treat to watch (particularly for the most macabre use of a Dolly Parton song I have ever witnessed), it is only the warm up for a gloriously anarchic centerpiece in the film taking place aboard a prison relocation truck. That sucker is a beautiful thing to behold.
As it turned out, I first saw ATOMIC BLONDE (2017) the day before I went to see DEADPOOL 2. These two otherwise unrelated features are director David Leitch’s two most recent projects. Therefore, they share storytelling sensibilities as well as a few cast members. Like John Woo’s early films, the action sequences are well conceived and executed to be cool to watch. Time has been taken on crafting them so that they do not seem to be simple time wasting shoot ’em ups as we pause between plot points. Instead, they are fun exercises that allow some character growth and some plot development. They might wobble wildly back and forth between gruesome and comedic, but they are interesting spectacles in their own right and do not feel tacked on or half-assed.
AS the Dolly Parton reference earlier might indicate, the music selections can sometimes veer into the realm of being juuuust a little too cute. SUICIDE SQUAD (2016) tried to use a metric ton of music selections to pump up its scenes and resulted in limited success. Here, as in ATOMIC BLONDE, we have some more unusual choices and while not all of them are completely successful, the scenes do not ride on the power of nostalgic tunes alone.
On the other hand, Tyler Bates’ score treads ground between over-the-top comic book scores as well as hilarious, satiric jabs at those same films’ excesses. His work on both GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY flicks soundtracks gets a much needed wedgie. However, the prize of the flick is the operatic piece composed for the Juggernaut character. Listen close to the lyrics and smile at the audacity of a choir chanting “Holy shitballs.”
Ryan Reynolds excels as both Deadpool and Wade Wilson. He brings heart, humor, and an abundance of energy to the role. His comic timing works for the funny parts and the tragic ones. I look forward to the next time he plays this role, whether it is in a Deadpool solo feature or some kind of team movie. I hear there is work on an X-force flick (a team name which gets a rather chuckle worthy build up and name drop in this picture), but time will tell if the production company fouls it up the way it has fouled up its super team franchises in the past.
For DEADPOOL 2, Reynolds has plenty of people to work with. Familiar faces from the first film return, including Morena Baccarin (Vanessa), Leslie Uggams (Blind Al), Karan Soni (Dopinder), and Brianna Hildebrand (Negasonic Teenage Warhead). They are joined by a ton of new faces and characters, including a hastily assembled X-Force that includes Zazie Beetz (Domino), Lewis Tan (the insufferable Shatterstar), and Bill Skarsgard (the appropriately named Zeitgeist, whose power is to spew acidic liquid). The result is a more fleshed out world than the first. As well, Deadpool gets to be goofy with a ton of folks.
It’s worth a watch there for the sorts of folks who are tired of the gravitas superhero flicks have been giving themselves. Personally, I am more interested in the THOR: RAGNAROK (2017) level of crazy at the moment. Some laughs, some thoughtful ways to blow shut up, and some hilarious jabs at its own production company help DEADPOOL 2 become a better movie than it has any right to be. There is no need to overstay my welcome with more blah-blah-blahing. I’ll just end this piece right here, quoting one character’s quoting of INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE (1994): “I want some more.”
This week’s film is in theaters. Check it out there. If you’d like an amazon link to help fund our website then consider grabbing a copy of one of the Deadpool comics collections, such as vol 1 or vol 2.
Next week, we will take a look at the new sci-fi/horror/revenge flick UPGRADE (2018).