Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Review #1,344: 'Deadpool 2' (2018)

In the years Ryan Reynolds spent trying to persuade 20th Century Fox to greenlight a Deadpool movie since the abomination that was the character's first big-screen appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009, nobody quite expected the reception it would eventually receive once the 'Merc with a Mouth' was finally unleashed onto unsuspecting audiences. Least of all Fox executives, who only gave it the go-ahead when footage was leaked onto the internet and fans went crazy. When 2016's Deadpool raked in over $700 million and became the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time, the suits were soon rubbing their hands together and dreaming up a sequel. Creative differences led to original director Tim Miller departing, and in stepped John Wick co-director David Leitch, with Reynolds also receiving a writing credit for the follow-up.

After a marketing campaign that was even more meta than before and teases of comic-book favourites gracing the big-screen for the first time, Deadpool 2 arrives with high expectations, not only to deliver on the comedy side, but to further subvert a genre that now seems to dominate the big release dates each year, with Marvel alone delivering three features a year. So does the sequel improve on the first? Not really. Although Deadpool 2 increases the violence, cursing and fourth-wall breaks, there's a slight whiff of corporate tampering to the final product. The Merc's first solo outfit loosely hung itself around the faintest of plots, with time jumps switching between Wade Wilson's journey from simple mercenary to cancer-ridden super anti-hero, and his quest for revenge against the man who took pleasure in torturing him over a lengthy period of time. The low-budget, guerrilla-esque approach was all part of its charm, and the role fit Reynolds' smirking sense of humour like a glove.

Deadpool 2 received a much higher budget and allowed for even more creative freedom for the writers, but in doing so has lost some of what made the original so refreshing and punkish. The story involves time-travelling cyborg Cable (John Brolin), who journeys back to our time to assassinate a young mutant (played by Julian Dennison) before he can grow up to become the monster responsible for murdering his family. Deadpool, who is still being courted by the X-Men and recovering from his own personal tragedy, takes it upon himself to protect the boy, who he feels can be saved and turned away from his fate. Along with old pals Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), Weasel (T.J. Miller) and Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), Deadpool puts together a team he dubs 'X-Force' to help him take down such a formidable foe. Can our hero overcome this seemingly unstoppable man-machine with a gun whose power turns all the way up to 11? And more importantly, is dubstep still a thing in the future?

There is far more story to sink your teeth into this time around, and there are unexpected emotional beats for a character who is essentially a pop culture joke machine. But as it goes with most sequels, bigger rarely means better, and Deadpool 2 ends up becoming the type of film it's supposed to be making fun of. There is plenty of action but there is a weightlessness to it, which wouldn't be a problem if the director wasn't at least half responsible for the crunching physicality of John Wick. That said, Reynolds and fellow writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick keep the laughs coming thick and fast, whether it be Reynolds' wink-winking at the camera or the gross-out physical comedy, with Brolin proving to be the perfect straight-man to Reynolds' blabbermouth. One particularly memorable scene had me crying, despite it ultimately being a rip-off of another movie I won't mention for fear of spoilers. Movie-goers may be divided but comic enthusiasts will appreciate the service they receive, with countless Easter Eggs and in-jokes to spot, as well as the inclusion of the likes of Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), a rather goofy hero that nobody ever believed would make it onto the big screen. Reynolds can rest on his nest egg for at least another film.

Directed by: David Leitch
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Stefan Kapicic, Brianna Hildebrand, Leslie Uggams, Eddie Marsan
Country: USA

Rating: ***

Tom Gillespie

Deadpool 2 (2018) on IMDb

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