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Review: Deadpool 2 (2018)

Deadpool 2 (2018)

Directed by: David Leitch

Premise: A sequel to the 2016 film. Anti-superhero Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) protects a young mutant (Julian Dennison) from a time traveling assassin (Josh Brolin).

What Works: Deadpool 2 recaptures much of what worked about the first film. These movies are vehicles for Ryan Reynolds. In addition to playing the title role, Reynolds is also credited as a producer and writer on the sequel and these movies play to Reynolds’ strengths as a movie star. The actor’s wit and charm and sense of humor are the featured attraction and they match well with this character. Deadpool 2 also continues the first film’s bawdy sense of humor. It combines crude and outrageous comedy with self-awareness and a willingness to ridicule itself and the superhero genre. While it makes sport of those films and some of their clichés and excesses, Deadpool 2 also fulfills many of the appeals of the comic book genre and so it gives the audience what they want while poking them in the ribs. In that respect,  Deadpool 2 controls its tone especially well in. The filmmakers’ have a lot of laughs but they also know when to play it straight. In the first film that was the love story between Deadpool/Wade Wilson and his girlfriend played by Morena Baccarin. In the sequel it’s Deadpool’s relationship with a young and troubled mutant played by Julian Dennison. The boy is the victim of abuse and he threatens to turn violent. Cable, played by Josh Brolin, is an assassin from the future who has come backward through time to kill this young man before he becomes a murderous monster. Between the jokes, Deadpool 2 has some substance to its characters as they cope with legacies of abuse and the filmmakers show the good sense not to make that into a joke. And that quality is consistent with Ryan Reynolds’ movie star persona and with the version of the character he’s created. Like its predecessor, Deadpool 2 is crude but not mean-spirited and as violent as it may be and as much as the character rejects the hero label, this film is much more satisfying than a lot of other superhero pictures.

What Doesn’t: The original Deadpool was lightening in a bottle. That film managed a nearly perfect balance of action and comedy and self-awareness. That particular combination was probably going to be impossible to recreate and Deadpool 2 does not have the novelty or surprise of its predecessor. It’s also not quite as funny. It’s still good humored and the jokes consistently land but the first film was a scrappy and dadaist piece of work that ripped apart franchise filmmaking. Deadpool 2 is a much safer and less radical work that operates within the boundaries of blockbuster Hollywood entertainment. It’s “the same but different” and some parts of Ryan Reynolds’ shtick start to wear thin. How much longer is he going to make the same self-deprecating jokes about his roles in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Green Lantern? Like the original Deadpool, the action sequences of the new film are mostly pedestrian. They are competent but indistinguishable from the action of any other superhero movie. With a couple of exceptions, the set pieces of Deadpool 2 don’t physicalize the comedy and the filmmakers squander opportunities to inject the irreverent humor that characterizes the rest of the movie.

Bottom Line: Deadpool 2 is the kind of franchise sequel that sticks to its brand and gives the audience a second helping of what they loved the first time around. It may not be the subversive masterpiece that the first one was but as a piece of entertainment it does everything to satisfaction.

Episode: #700 (May 27, 2018)