Review - 'Deadpool 2'
When Deadpool first came out, it made waves by being the first R-rated comic book film to really be immensely successful, both commercially and critically. That said, I wasn't particularly blown away by it. Sure, it was entertaining, but I didn't like the disjointed structure of the film, and I felt that it leaned on its vulgarity as a crutch instead of just trying to be straight-up funny. Thankfully, Deadpool 2 rectifies many of my problems with the original film, and for me, ended up being a more satisfying and rewarding experience.
The film follows Wade Wilson/Deadpool as he tries to integrate with the X-men and become an actual hero. During his search for a moral compass he comes across a troubled young teenager named Russell (Julian Dennison) who is hellbent on getting revenge on the people who have wronged him. Seeing a similarity between him and Russell; Deadpool takes it upon himself to form a team of misfits to help rescue and rehabilitate him. Meanwhile, Cable (Josh Brolin), a time-jumping mercenary seeks to kill Russell, and erase his influence on the timeline of the future.
The main thing I like more about Deadpool 2 over its predecessor is the fact that it actually has a full-fledged story that is more-or-less straight-forward. In the first film, half of it seemed to be told via flash-backs and flash-forwards, with very little of it actually being a story with meaningful progression. Deadpool 2 does pay homage to the first film with a brief "how did we get here" sequence at the beginning, but we quickly catch up with Deadpool in real-time and forge ahead with a new story where the end is uncertain. This also allows for a more effective emotional arc for Deadpool, who actually begins to wear his heart more clearly on his sleeve, which is all the more impressive when you consider that he doesn't lose any of his comedic bite in the process.
Speaking of comedic bite, I found Deadpool 2 to be funnier than the original as well. Sure, there are a few times where this film shamelessly relies on a well-placed F-bomb or a crotch shot, but overall, I found the comedy to be more clever and well thought-out this time around. My only qualms revolve around the recycling of a few old jokes from the first film. Deadpool 2 could have dropped these jokes and it would not have detracted from the experience at all.
Like the original, this film also benefits from Ryan Reynolds' comedic sensibilities. I feel like now that he's made a name for himself as the character, he decided to cut loose a bit, and for me at least, his lines were even more hilarious and seemed to roll off of the tongue more naturally this time around. Morena Baccarin also returns as Vanessa, and though she gets less screen time, she is further cemented as one of the most likable and self-made love interests to grace a comic book film. Next there's T.J. Miller, and as much as I dislike some of this man's lifestyle choices, Weasel, the character he plays here, is undeniably funny and every time he's allowed to just riff, comedy gold just seems to spurt out. Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Stefan Kapicic, Brianna Hildebrand) also return, and they don't really deviate in any meaningful way, but it's nice to have them all the same.
Deadpool 2 also does a great job of integrating new and interesting characters to the proceedings. First and foremost, we have Cable played by Josh Brolin, who is playing his second comic book movie antagonist for the summer, the other of course being Thanos from Infinity War. Cable is fairly one-note in the beginning, but as he interacted more with Deadpool, their rapport adding an interesting dynamic to his character that was a joy to watch. Next there's Domino (Zazie Beetz), who very nearly steals the show as a superhero who's power is simply being lucky. She's got attitude and a barbed tongue that goes toe-to-toe with Deadpool's. Finally there's the troubled teen with potentially devastating abilities, Russell played by Julian Dennison. This performance was annoying, but by necessity.
Bringing in David Leitch to direct this sequel was a very smart decision. Before this he helmed the superb and now iconic John Wick along with his partner Chad Stahelski, and then moved on to the sleek, sexy and brutal secret agent film Atomic Blonde. Both of these films handle action in a unique and eye-catching way with an attention to expert choreography that is convincing and enjoyable to watch. While the action isn't quite on the creative level that was on display in his previous films, it's definitely an uptick from the competent but unmemorable action sequence(s?) in Deadpool 1. Another benefit to bringing in Leitch is much better lighting and cinematography across the board. The first Deadpool lacked color, basically languishing in asphalt grey for its entire run time, which doesn't make sense for such a zany and colorful character. The colors pop in Deadpool 2 and the world around Wade Wilson is finally starting to reflect his personality in an appropriate way.
Though I keep singing this film's praises, it's still not a perfect movie. There's some pacing issues towards the end of the first act and beginning of the second that drag down the momentum. There's also a fight between two CGI characters that is an utter eyesore to watch, even though the movie hilariously acknowledges it through one of it's many fourth-wall breaking moments. There's also a some pretty lazy writing throughout that relies heavily on a number of conveniences. This is also referenced and tossed aside by Deadpool himself, which is funny but also doesn't really justify it either.
Problems aside, Deadpool 2 is a worthy and much better film than the original. There are more laughs, the action is great, the film looks good and it even managed to have some heart, which is really saying something considering the main character's general flippant nature to anything and everything. The superhero universe's greatest offender delivers again!