Director: David Leitch
Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin
I think the burning question on most people’s minds heading in to see the sequel to the most successful R-rated comic book film of all-time was “how the hell can they improve upon the original?” The first Deadpool film was the definition of capturing lightning in a bottle. It had absolutely everything; breathtaking action, visceral violence, gold standard comedy, a hint of romance and an enthralling, if not simplistic origin story. It was a passion project for its leading star that spanned the better part of a decade and that genuine love for the character showed.
So how the hell could they better or at least equal the ground breaking original? Well for starters, the promotion of Deadpool 2 had to be right and it ended up being a shining example of how to expertly build the anticipation for a film. We had Ryan Reynolds dressing up as Bob Ross in a scarily accurate homage, playing with action figures interspersed with real action and we even had a dance double pirouetting to the overtures of Celine Dion. It was hilarious, quirky, original and packed full of Wade’s unique blend of expletive ridden put downs.
I don’t know if I’ve seen a better promotional run for a film in my lifetime. It was absolutely relentless, had a ridiculous reach and it succeeded in hyping everyone. More importantly, it showed audiences that everything they enjoyed about the original was back, but only this time on a bigger, more ambitious scale. Which is all well and good, but how many times have we seen a studio bluffing or double bluffing us by sticking entire scenes in trailers that aren’t in the film or giving us a highlights reel with the final product being a complete let down?
We’ve seen it countless times before, but it’s certainly not the case here. Deadpool 2’s memorable moments from the trailers are very much in the film, there’s no Hulk on Wakanda double bluff here and they have the same punch in the theatre as they did in the trailer, whilst thankfully being intermixed with equally, if not more hilarious moments throughout.
The plot remains fairly simplistic albeit on a more grandiose scale. Two years have passed since we last saw Wade and he’s living the dream staying with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), whilst hunting down criminals. A Deadpool film can’t be based on a foundation of happily ever after however. The original Deadpool proved that Wade is at his best when he’s got that fire of injustice in his belly. It’s the botched killing of a target which we see in a deranged, quickfire, early montage of death that brings the house of cards down on his fledgling new family life.
Vanessa’s death is a bit of an emotional double edged sword. It sucks the life out of Wade initially, who unsuccessfully tries to commit suicide weeks later, but then it also drives him to protect and save the young mutant Firefist (Julian Dennison) from the clutches of Cable (Josh Brolin) after a series of tender afterlife interactions. The way the story was handled was actually one of my biggest positives. It flip flopped between the main story, choc full of comedy and action to real dark, introspective and emotional moments for Wade. Deadpool has always had that to an extent, it’s just that people tend to focus on the swearing, violence and great comedy.
I’ll try not to give the entirety of the story away, because this review would turn into a plot synopsis and you can read that on Wikipedia if that’s your thing.
But needless to say, Cable is a very cool, time travelling, ‘villain’ with an array of equally cool weapons. I don’t even want to call him a villain because he isn’t. He’s a bit of tragic figure, who still carries his daughters charred teddy on his waist. Think of the Terminator with mostly good intentions mixed with the pure vengeance of Sicario’s Alejandro and you’ll get a perfect sense of his journey, motivations and character. Brolin was the perfect choice to play him, despite not being seven foot tall like the comic book iteration. He’s a great actor with oodles of presence.
Firefist was a turbulent, tortured, abuse victim, struggling to harness his fiery powers and young Julian Dennison was surprisingly fantastic. He absolutely embodied all of those things and yet managed to be quite funny at times too. His story was like a crazy, mutant take on the often pondered moral ambiguity of going back in time to kill the baby Hitler. Is a mass murderer guilty of crimes he’s yet to commit? I don’t know, I’m no psychologist, but that’s one of the many interesting themes they explore regardless. One things for sure, his story and the way it weaves through Wade and Cables was enthralling.
Wade acts like a deranged agony aunt towards the need, gnawing away at Cables conscience and doing everything to alter the future of a still uncorrupted Collins.
Now for X-Force. I said previously that there wasn’t much bluffing in the trailers, well I was double bluffing. That paragliding scene when the newly established group head towards the prison convoy and encounter mishap after mishap and a series of hilarious, grisly deaths was one of the best moments in the entire film. All but Domino die and that’s probably for the best because they were a bit naff. Domino (Zazie Beetz) was a surprisingly entertaining watch. A mutant with luck as her ability didn’t sound great and Wade ripped her countless times for it, but it was actually very handy and she’ll be a great addition to the new spin-off franchise.
TJ Miller not returning as Weasel is a minor travesty because his chemistry with Reynolds and the hilarity he brings will be badly, badly missed. But he’s went totally off the rails and it’s unavoidable.
Speaking of Ryan Reynolds, I briefly touched upon it earlier, but he really is the perfect guy to play the role. I wasn’t that big a fan of his prior to Deadpool because I wrongly assumed he was a smarmy, smart arse, but his portrayal of Wade in these two films really did open my eyes. He goes through the emotional wringer, displaying rare hints of humanity and sensitivity amongst all the witty wise cracking, usual antics and hilarity. Wade wouldn’t be anywhere near as likeable for me without Reynolds distinctive voice. I continue to enjoy his self awareness and the repentance he displays for his past career mistakes too. The end credit scenes take this to another level.
I was concerned when Deadpool 2 was announced because the first film, much like Guardians of the Galaxy, though for totally different reasons, was close to perfection. It was a self contained story that I didn’t think could be bettered. The change of director and rumours of abandoning what made Deadpool so good didn’t allay my fears. I was wrong though. Way wrong. They made everything bigger, shinier, they added double the amount of characters, but more importantly they retained the spirit of the original. They also added Josh Brolin, who always improves a film. It had a bit of everything; humour, romance, sadness, violence, incredible visuals and a perfect score.
It was two hours of pure, unadulterated escapism and I highly recommend watching it.