Movie Review: Sentimental ‘Deadpool 2’ Tops the Original
The Merc with a Mouth learns the true meaning of family in Deadpool 2, a spiffy comic book sequel that isn’t as fresh or funny as the first film, but contains a far better storyline and action sequences. And a wealth of fun new mutant characters, one of which is sure to please X-Men fans.
One problem: Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds, returning to a career-defining role) can’t die, as an opening suicide scene in which he blows himself into pieces exemplifies. As a consequence, Deadpool 2’s brutal fight scenes - and big emotional moments, as wink-wink as they are - all seem to bear little consequence, at least to our hero.
Deadpool is vainly attempting suicide after the pre-credit loss of girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), of which he shoulders the blame. The character is so flippant that it’s a tough to feel any empathy with him, but credit to Reynolds for managing to pull together the anguish and whimsy in a way that feels natural, and doesn’t entirely subvert the movie’s more sentimental moments.
To help get Deadpool back on his feet, old X-Men pals Colossus (a still sub-par CGI creation voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and Teenage Negasonic Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) take him in to the X-Mansion and try to get him to change his murderous ways.
Sidekick-bartender Weasel (T.J. Miller), cab driver Dopinder (Karan Soni), and mentor Blind Al (Leslie Uggams) are all back, too, albeit in somewhat reduced roles - Uggams, especially, feels underutilized this time around.
But best of all are the new characters, including a teenage Abomination (played by Julian Dennison, virtually reprising his role from The Hunt for the Wilderpeople with some added mutant capabilities) and Cable (Josh Brolin), a time-travelling soldier out to kill him, for reasons to be revealed when the plot dictates.
Deadpool wants little to do with the kid, but we immediately know where the film is headed from his introduction. Still, the route it takes to get there is well-crafted, and manages to give the movie a genuine emotional content in the face of all Wade’s wisecracks.
Cable and Abomination aren’t the only new characters fans of the X-Men (and related) comics have to look forward to; one of Deadpool 2’s finest sequences involves the assembly of the X-Force, with members including Domino (Zazie Beetz), Zeitgeist (It’s Bill Skarsgård), Bedlam (Terry Crews), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), the mysterious Vanisher (whose identity I will not reveal here), and, uh, Peter (Rob Delaney).
These colorful new characters, with a wide array of strange powers and personalities, take part in Deadpool 2’s longest shaggy-dog joke, and it’s funniest punchline.
Much of Deadpool 2, however, goes by with nary a laugh - a stark contrast to the previous film, which valued comedy above all else. But director David Leitch, a former stuntman who made Atomic Blonde and co-directed John Wick, nicely pulls together a solid script (by Reynolds, Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick) and adds in some kinetic action choreography, two areas in which the first film lacked.
Beetz’s Domino, whose mutant power is really, really good luck, is a standout, and given the film’s structure, takes part in many of Deadpool 2’s biggest action scenes. I look forward to seeing her (and the others) in the upcoming X-Force movie.
To try and milk some poignancy out of a film where the hero cannot die, the writers invent a prison collar that eliminates all mutant powers - allowing Wade, if arrested, to slowly die of cancer - and then there’s also Cable’s convenient time-travel pod, Brolin’s second plot-negating device after Thanos’ Time Stone in Avengers: Infinity War.
It’s a tough sell to get us to feel for Deadpool, or anyone else in this glib superhero sequel, but the filmmakers make a grand effort in the vein of Logan - referenced by Reynolds here in fourth-wall breaking narration right out of the gate. And by the end, they very nearly get there.