By Jack Dignan
Bringing the anarchic, ultra-violent, fourth-wall breaking antics of beloved comic book anti-hero Deadpool to life was a journey ten years in the making, but his 2016 film was a commercial and critical success, and one of my favourite movies of that year. It was a long awaited endeavor that finally paid off, and there’s no way Fox and Marvel weren’t going to bank in on that success and create a franchise out of the damn thing. So now we have Deadpool 2, a sequel that, if nothing else, proves the only person who hates Ryan Reynolds’ filmography more than you is Ryan Reynolds.
Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), everyone’s favourite merc with a mouth, is back to don that skin-tight leather suit for a second round of late night fun. And this time, he’s not coming alone. After hitting a low point in his life, Wade unenthusiastically joins the X-Men, but it doesn’t last long before young boy Russell (Julian Dennison), a fiery super villain in the making, is tracked down by a time travelling mutant from the future, Cable (Josh Brolin), who arrives with intention to kill. Wade, feeling connected to the kid, decides to go his own way and put together a new super team to help take Cable down and protect the boy from the dark future Cable’s trying to prevent.
It’s certainly a bigger story than the first, but as it turns out, size doesn’t matter, for Deadpool 2 shrivels in comparison to its predecessor. This is by no stretch of the imagination a bad movie. In fact, I’d definitely describe it as a good one. Ryan Reynolds’ shit talking anti-hero, who always comes with at least three one-liners to any given situation, is just as charismatic and likeable as ever. This is the role Reynolds was born to play, and watching him on screen makes it absolutely clear just how much this role means to him.
But with Deadpool 2, he doesn’t have to prove that to the audience. We know. So he’s brought on some super friends to help do the job, and they all make fantastic additions to the cast. Josh Brolin as Cable is menacing, and the dynamic he shares with Wade is unstoppable, as is Zazie Beetz as Domino, a mutant with the powers of luck who kicks way more ass than anyone will be expecting. But the problem with both these characters is that we know literally nothing about them. Cable comes in a little too late, and his overall arc feels both predictable and yet unsatisfying.
He makes a decision in the third act that definitely needed to be made for the sake of the plot, but it didn’t feel right for his character at the time, and that’s all I can say without giving away major spoilers. As for Domino, she’s paper thin, which is, perhaps, why I left the theatre feeling disappointed with how she was handled, but Beetz is fantastic in the role and it’s a character I certainly hope to see more of. Perhaps in subsequent sequels, maybe even the X-Force movie, we’ll get to see her step more into the spotlight.
However, this brings me to the biggest problem with Deadpool 2; it’s trying to bite off far more than it can chew. Upping the ante for the sequel was always going to happen, but screenwriters Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Reynolds himself try to cram as much into this two-hour runtime as possible, making it feel bloated, unfocused and overstretched. Most of the X-Force characters don’t need to be in the film, same with Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), whose dynamic with both Deadpool and her girlfriend (Shiori Kutsuna) is funny, but serves absolutely no purpose to the plot. Even Dopinder (Karan Soni), the first film’s surprise star, feels forced in for the sake of being there.
There’s also an un-advertised CGI villain who makes an appearance, and while I certainly enjoyed seeing them on screen, when reflecting upon their impact on the plot, it all amounts to very little. They play heavily into Dennison’s arc, but he could’ve achieved that arc all on his own. And I don’t even want to get started on Morena Baccarin’s Vanessa so as not to spoil her sub-plot, but it’s far from a good decision (in fact, the whole opening sequence is as scattershot as superhero movies come). I get what they were going for, and her ultimate payoff was worthwhile, but no matter which way they took her character this time around, I was bound to hate it, and they chose one of the worst options they could’ve.
Okay, so it does sound like I’m hating on this film a little bit, which was never my intention, but the Deadpool franchise is one I’m still every bit as invested in. And like I said, this is still a good film. It’s a ton to fun, director David Leitch handles the action with visceral brutality, and that end credit scene is an absolute all-timer. But with the exception of one very subtle visual gag that absolutely works, most of the humour is copied and pasted straight out of the first film, and it frails in the shadow of what came before. Deadpool 2 is fine, but in a world where we get ten superhero movies a year, the fine ones are sure to be forgotten, and that’s not where I want Deadpool to head.
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