Should be back to regular, weekly video reviews from here on out:
The first Deadpool was a much needed break from the increasingly bloated superhero genre. Offering quick-witted and gory delights, the film mostly succeeded in poking fun at the typical narrative conventions of what was becoming a tired formula, especially from Marvel Studios. Most surprising to its purse handlers at 20th Century Fox, it also made a lot of money; so a sequel was inevitable. Bringing on one of the directors of John Wick to helm the next chapter to boot. So how does this franchise fare with this latest installment? Got a lot of good news for you…and a bit of bad. Keep reading if you want to know what I mean (which I’m sure you do).
So Wade Wilson has been globetrotting the world as the unkillable assassin, Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), for a good two years now with great relationships with his cab friend Dopinder (Karan Soni) and his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) to boot. While Wade and Vanessa are ready to move on to the next stage of their relationship, circumstances forces Deadpool to consider his role as a potential father. Opportunity presents itself when a troubled mutant teen named Russell (Julian Dennison from Hunt for the Wilderpeople) is on the run from a time-traveling, half robotic super soldier named Cable (Josh Brolin). Seeing that Cable is too strong for him, Deadpool enlists a group of mutants with flexible morals including the strong Bedlam (Terry Crews) and the lucky Domino (Zazie Beetz) to take the wanna-be Terminator on as X-Force…and yes, they joke about how derivative that name sounds.
I’m avoiding spoilers because frankly the film doesn’t care much about its own mythos the way the Marvel machine does, and mostly what is actually there isn’t going to mean a whole lot in just a few months if Disney successfully buys out 20th Century Fox, to bring the X-Men into hanging out with the Avengers. But Deadpool 2 does continue the irreverent tone of its predecessor both with its joke delivery and dedication to gratuitous violence. It just would have been nice if the plot wasn’t a bizarre mess of ideas. See, the first half of the film is very unfocused as that whole business with protecting Russell from Cable doesn’t get introduced until we’re more than halfway through the film. So the first 45 minutes bumbles around trying to figure out how to get to its big action set pieces, and in the process commit an action movie taboo that has plagued other sequels to very successful franchises. Without wishing to spoil, the filmmakers do something at the beginning of this movie that was reminiscent of another franchise owned by 20th Century Fox and fans have still not forgiven them for what they did.
The only thing keeping you, the audience, anchored to the movie, is that your lead in Ryan Reynolds continues to sell the ever-loving hell out of Deadpool. Reynolds has always been a great comedic actor, so it’s nice watching him cut loose with joke-a-second material and delivering some solid farce all around. But while his previous outing as Deadpool was mostly focused on him, he’s also surrounded by a very solid supporting cast as well, notably with Zazie Beetz as Domino. Now for those who don’t know, this character’s superpower is literally luck, probability favors her no matter where she goes or what she’s doing. Merely jogging in a random direction gets this character to where she needs to be, even if what’s standing between her are dozens of armed guards, an armored transport, and chaos blasting all around her. Selling on the absurdity of her character is the fact Zazie Beets takes a more casual, fun-loving interpretation of Domino; rather than her comic counter-part, who is a generic badass action girl #48,583. She’s part of the reason the second half of this film works as well as it does.
Also working is this film’s interpretation of Cable. I’ll direct you to the character’s Wikipedia page if you want to know more about him, but suffice it to say, this film gleefully ignore 99% of what he’s all about in the comics. That’s because he’s a character his writers never knew what the hell to do with as he’s been a Terminator, a father figure, and a Messiah across his two decade life span. For the film, he instead serves as a neat caricature of the badass, emotionless, lone gunman type with a tragic backstory that plagued action films during the 1980s. By putting him opposite of the cartoonish Deadpool, what you see is the true embodiment of “The Odd Couple” character dynamic, especially as things converge for the film’s explosive finale.
Speaking of which, the action set pieces are certainly a step up from the previous installment. No disrespect to Tim Miller who made Deadpool a household name with his direction, but the guy was never really adept at handling over-the-top gore the way the film very clearly wanted to be, and he also didn’t have the budget to take it to that next level. With David Leitch at the helm, he brings the flair of well-choreographed fight scenes that made John Wick the sensational action film it is now regarded as, along with a pretty impressive car chase sequence in the second half of the movie. So much so that the climax can’t help but feel like a step down, considering it becomes more hand-to-hand oriented along with a CGI-enabled punch ups.
But on the rankings of critiques, the special effects are definitely on the low end for me when it comes to Deadpool 2, especially since the story left me feeling a bit…underwhelmed to be honest. Besides the beginning making a beloved character from the first film a plot device and nothing more, I realized that our heroes more or less blundered their way into a resolution by the time all the dust had settled. No, not like The Last Jedi, where certain characters made dubious decisions because they were desperate; I mean the protagonists of Deadpool 2 arbitrarily decided to end this film by the whims of contrivance more than anything else. And while what they do leads to a pretty entertaining mid-credits stinger, it also seriously negated the whole point of the friggin’ movie as well. Leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth if I’m being honest.
Thankfully, in writing this review, I still found plenty of reasons to like Deadpool 2, even if it’s not the lightning in a bottle experience the first film was. In several areas, this installment improved in a stronger cast, more intriguing antagonist, and certainly better action set pieces; but it’s also let down by its meandering script that has a few duds in the joke department. Nonetheless, I still found myself laughing more often than not and think if you enjoyed the first Deadpool, then I think you’re exactly the target audience for this sequel. It’s more of what you love, even if a few mistakes hold it back from an enthusiastic recommendation. So with that, I’ll give this a very, very high…
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