Deadpool 2 (2018)


Most movies automatically lend themselves to a sequel, whether they want to or not.  If it is successful then it seems that money, if not creativity, will find a way.  Since Deadpool was a bit of a gamble  to begin with, it was surprising that a sequel was greenlit even before the movie hit the theaters.  Even more surprising, unfortunately, was that the director of the first split early on with Ryan Reynolds over creative differences.

If it wasn't for Reynolds's commitment to the character the second film could have easily ended up in development hell (something that it is possible that the second sequel or the upcoming X-Force series may suffer now that Disney has purchased 21st Century Fox and begins to purge anything that doesn't fit their agenda).  Even worse we could have ended up with a film that stained the first one just by merely existing.

Deadpool (Reynolds) has been out slicing and dicing bad guys, but realizes he better make it home for his anniversary.  In true dramatic style for a tragic superhero Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) is killed by one of the bad guys, leading Deadpool into a spiral of self-destructive behavior - which, since he can't die, doesn't really do him much good.  To get his mind off of things he decides that he will go ahead and join the X-Men, reuniting with Colossus (Stepan Kapicic), Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and NTW's new girlfriend, Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna).  Unfortunately, he quickly returns to his old ways of dealing with things when called in to handle a Mutant teenager named Firefist (Julian Dennison) who has suffered abuse at a special school that aims to "cure" Mutants. 

His actions wind him and the boy in the Icebox, a maximum security prison, with collars limiting their powers.  As Deadpool contemplates once again dying of cancer, a new face shows up: Cable (Josh Brolin), a cybernetic soldier from the future with a beef against Firefist.  The ensuing chaos leads to Deadpool's escape, and his determination to become the boy's substitute father figure.  Along those lines he unsuccessfully forms his own version of the X-Men (that he dubs X-Force) in order to rescue Firefist, who is scheduled to be transported to another facility along with a number of prisoners.  Cable, of course, has the same idea, just not the rescue part, while Firefist has decided to get a new ally: Dreadnaught (Reynolds). 

After both the rescue (and, on Cable's side, assassination) fails and Firefist and Dreadnaught head back to deal with the orphanage, Deadpool gets Cable to agree to hold off on killing the boy until it's seen if his path can be altered.  Meanwhile, X-Force member Domino (Zazie Beetz), Colossus, NTW, Yukio and Deadpool's chauffeur Dopinder (Karan Soni) all show up to keep both Dreadnaught and the thugs at the orphanage busy.

Like the first one there is no solid villain.  I should say, even more-so than the first one, because almost every villain save the Headmaster (Eddie Marsan) ends up becoming less villainous as they fall in line with Deadpool.  It's kind of the way Colossus hopes that being around the X-Men will have an effect on the Merc with a Mouth, but in a much more subtle fashion.  Rather than being about some great, end-all battle, Deadpool 2 is more concerned with how the title character deals with grief and depression than with spandex-clad baddies.

A few aspects of how Reynolds plays the character gets a bit confusing.  Keep in mind I don't read comics, so a lot of info I get about the characters in the books is second hand - and I guess that Deadpool is pansexual.  That's not explored in the first movie at all, and I guess Reynolds took some heat for that.  It suddenly pops up in this movie, but it's a bit disconcerting; I couldn't tell if he was truly into both women and men, or if he was just making immature gay jokes, or possibly both.  Even if it has nothing to do with the plot it would have been nice to establish this part of Deadpool's personality in the original movie so that it didn't feel so much like pandering.  He is also a bit more clown-like this time around, and it is possible Tim Miller helped reel in some of the tendency to go that route.  The result is a ton of jokes, not all of them hitting their mark. 

Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio are handled quite a bit better; they neither get put in a situation where they have to give speeches about social justice, nor are they used for titillation.  Both mainstream and art films have a horrible habit of doing both to where I practically role my eyes whenever characters are introduced as same-sex these days.  Rather than making them normal couples it seems like everyone can't imagine them existing outside of an agenda.  It's nice to see a bit of a difference even if it's just supporting characters.

Josh Brolin manages to do a great Ron Pearlman impersonation with Cable, and it will be interesting to see if they expand the character in later films.  Here he works as a mirror image to Deadpool's grief, as both of them are suffering similar situations that motivate them to act in completely different ways toward the same person.  Without the tried-and-true grief story line I hope that Cable gets a bit more rounded out and doesn't just end up being a background thug going forward.  Julian Dennison, playing the kid at the center of everything, is unfortunately not as skilled as he could be.  At some point either director David Leitch or Reynolds needed to take him aside and slow him down a bit.  New Zealand accents usually aren't that hard to understand, but Dennison just doesn't seem to know that precise pronunciation is important in most types of media.

Besides Cable the standout introduction is Domino, whose power is simply luck.  She goes through life narrowly avoiding danger and causing things to happen, being lead to where she is supposed to be.  Zazie Beetz is both a solid actor and quite believable in a role.  It doesn't feel like a debut, but more like a part she has been playing for years.  While I can't really see a solo Cable movie, I could easily see Domino getting her own film, as long as they don't clog it up with a long origin story.

Deadpool 2 happily manages to maintain the goodwill from the first film while adding some new dimensions to the character and introducing some interesting support staff.  No, it's not as good, but at least it doesn't try to be the first film.  That could have easily derailed the whole series.  It would be nice to see Reynolds reign it in a bit and concentrate more on landing a series of great jokes rather than just hoping for the best, but I'll definitely be there for the next one - unless Disney decides that the next one needs to be PG-13.

Deadpool 2 (2018)
Time: 119 minutes
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz
Director: David Leitch

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