After suffering a personal tragedy, Wade Wilson (AkA Deadpool) through his usual shenanigans, and in a quest to die or find where his heart is, winds up in prison with a young mutant called Russell. However, Russel is attacked by a time-travelling cyborg called Cable. Now Deadpool must form a team of fellow mercenaries to rescue Russell from Cable and prevent the future that Cable has seen.
Deadpool, the first one, was a breath of fresh air, an anarchic, joyful parody of all Superhero movies, filled with the venom and bile that can only come from a creative team that had to fight tooth and claw to get made. Deadpool 2 is more of the same, it still has great jokes and great action, it should as the film was directed by David Leitch, one of the men behind John Wick.
This time around, however, whether it is because we have seen it before Deadpool 2 feels less silly. That doesn’t make it a bad thing but, like a Che Guevara T-Shirt, it is clear that commercialism has distorted the message. See Deadpool 2 is not only a sequel to Deadpool but also a prequel to the upcoming X-Force films. It is part of the film franchises it railed against so hard in the first film, which compromises the constant jokes about supergroups and franchise films because, as the old saying goes, those in glass houses should not throw stones, and the thing that made Deadpool so appealing in the first place was how it was outside it all. In the first film there was a joke about how the only two X-Men in the massive mansion were Super-Nega-Sonic-Teenage-Warhead and Colossus, now there is a little aside about how the mainline X-Men from Days of Future Past and First Class shut Deadpool out deliberately. While this joke is cool, all it perhaps demonstrates is where it is now; the outsider is now an insider, like Daniel Kaluuya’s character from Black Mirror episode “15 Million Merits”, while the same humour and structure are there, there is something different under the mask motivating it.
This never affects the overall enjoyment of the film, it just holds it back from achieving what the first one did so effortlessly. In fact, it is apparently evident that Deadpool 2, like any good sequel should, tries to outdo the original. Probably because the first film established Deadpool as a character and the world he operates in, the writers of the second one are able to try to make the movie compelling with a really emotional story for Ryan Reynolds, who returns as our merch with the mouth, to really get his teeth into. He is an excellent actor, and for the most part, he tackles both sides of Deadpool/Wade Wilson exceptionally well. The only problem is synthesising the two together. Much in the same way that Marvel has an issue with undercutting their emotional sincerity with cheap jokes, Deadpool does precisely the same thing, though maybe that is the point of his character.
The script does an excellent job of breaking Deadpool down after all how do you maintain stakes if you have a main character who literally cannot die? You throw him into a situation that causes him so much emotional distress that you strip him bare of his defences leaving him vulnerable. I won’t spoil what happens during this crucial part of the film, but it is essential to know that the creative team went with a bold choice that does eventually pay off as the emotional core of the film that powers every single decision to come. If you look at it through the lens of a man searching for family and redemption, the script becomes tightly focused, with the added extras that include jokes about baby legs, ultra-violence and drug references.
This emotion is powered by Reynolds himself, who has proven that he is able to smooth over even lacklustre scripts through sheer force of will and charisma in films like The Hitman’s Bodyguard and Van Wilder. Here is no exception, and despite the clumsy attempts to combine the two aspects of the film, there is something to commend here. However, this isn’t just Reynold’s picture alone. It is a film about relationships, and as such you need other characters for those. His chemistry with Josh Brolin’s Cable, the hardened future soldier, was supposed to be the core of the film and, while Brolin adds some depth to Cable, the most nineties comic book character ever, he is overshadowed by the relationship between Deadpool and Colussus as well as newcomer Julian Dennison’s Russell Collins. Those who have seen Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilder People know who Dennison is and are aware of his talents as a comic actor. However, they also know how he can infuse a role with realism and pathos, and Russell Collins, despite its comic-booky nature is a great character to watch. A frightened and scared (physically and emotional) kid trying to find his way in the world and falling prey to the worst of himself, both echoes Deadpool’s current condition allowing for the man that dresses a bit like Spiderman to really grow as a character. It is outstanding, and the relationship between Reynolds and Dennison leads to some of the film’s biggest laughs and most cathartic moments.
Deadpool 2 is still a good film that I would recommend to fans of action and comedy alike. The jokes are laugh out loud funny, the spectacle is cinematic, including a fantastically constructed chase scene through the centre of a significant metropolitan area that was preceded by one of the most well-paced long con jokes you will ever see in a film. It definitely lives up to the previous movie and expands upon it with an emotionally charged script and fantastic performances from returning cast members and new additions. It is a shame that all these great individual elements collectively lead to a film that feels both more of the same and a commercial husk of its former self, thanks to the emotional crux of the film conflicting with the dark, subversive comedy and the franchise plans compromising the scrappy outsider image. If the series continues down this path, it could fall prey to the lazy writing that Wade hates so much, burning away all its goodwill with it.
You can watch Deadpool 2 in cinemas now