Directed by: David Leitch
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, Morena Baccarin
Written by Rhys Bowen Jones
The runaway smash-hit of 2016 ‘Deadpool’ saw the debut (yes, debut) of a fan favourite character known for breaking the fourth wall and being supremely foul-mouthed, as played by Ryan Reynolds in a passion project in the works for years. 2 years on, Deadpool is a household name thanks to Reynolds being widely considered the perfect man for the role and the film being supremely entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny from its opening credits right to its post-credits scene. 2 years on, we have been given the inevitable sequel a record breaking film was destined to have, and I’m happy to report that Deadpool hasn’t changed one bit.
‘Deadpool 2’ sees Deadpool fully invested in his saving-the-world-as-unethically-as-possible shtick as we are shown in the opening sequences. When tragedy strikes, Deadpool finds himself in a rut and it’s up to Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapcic) to pick him back up and continue his attempts at turning him into a true member of the X-Men. Meanwhile, mutants are popping up left and right, namely young Russell Collins, a teenager who can control fire, and Cable, a time-travelling cybernetic soldier who arrives, Terminator style, to complete a personal revenge mission.
What immediately comes across as you watch is ‘Deadpool 2′ has a far wider scope than the original. Where Deadpool spent the majority of its runtime on one section of a motorway, Deadpool 2 zips around the world in a montage sequence catching us up on what Deadpool has been up to since we last saw him. This sequence showcases impressive choreography thanks largely to its new director, David Leitch, fresh off his impressive work on ‘John Wick’ and ‘Atomic Blonde’, while also informing us that the jokes will fly at you faster than you can process them.
The wider scope isn’t only evident visually either, as the dialogue very heavily references other Marvel films, from the X-Men franchise (which Deadpool is very much a part of) to the MCU (which Deadpool isn’t a part of…yet). Some jokes come obviously (Josh Brolin’s Cable is the target of multiple MCU jokes for obvious reasons), while others are far more subtle. It also does very well at referencing lines from the first Deadpool that, granted, not many in my screening caught, but I did, and I appreciated the commitment to writing jokes to include everyone in the audience, from the casual viewers to the hardcore fans.
The quality of filmmaking itself is evident as Leitch brings his stunt related past to the film, showcasing the talent we have clearly seen in his previous work in genuinely impressive sequences like a slow-motion one-take sequence that Deadpool narrates over near the beginning of the film, as well as the fight choreography on the truck in the climax of Act 2. There are no annoyingly fast cuts to be found as the punches are given time to land and take effect; one of the biggest factors in well-shot action is the geography, and it was always clear where each character was after every hit. David Leitch is an exciting director that I hope continues this impressive form throughout his inevitably successful career.
‘Deadpool 2’ continues the trend from the first by being very funny and very entertaining on every level. The jokes do come at you at a supreme pace that you will not catch all of them even after multiple viewings, but ‘Deadpool 2’ is definitely going for re-watchability, which it most definitely is. And yet, while the film is consistently very funny, it doesn’t quite manage to tip over into hilarious territory. A few sequences come very close – Basic Instinct, X-Force for reference – but it doesn’t quite get there as well as ‘Deadpool’ does. “A fourth wall break inside a fourth wall break? That’s like…16 walls” from the first film is an all-time favourite quote of mine, there isn’t a line in ‘Deadpool 2′ that matches this one.
‘Deadpool 2’ does a lot of things very well, not least the cast. Everyone on screen is evidently having a blast with the film, and so many of them are perfect for the role. As aforementioned, Reynolds is Deadpool, Zazie Beetz almost steals the show as Domino, the endlessly cool and very lucky (it’s definitely a superpower and definitely cinematic) member of the X-Force, and Josh Brolin for the second time this year knocks a major Marvel character out of the park with a terrific performance as the time-travelling badass, Cable.
The true MVP of the film though is Julian Dennison as Russell Collins. Fresh off his hilarious turn in Taika Waititi’s ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’, Dennison has charm for days and has the ability to make any line, any look, any body movement funny. On top of being funny, Dennison genuinely makes Russell (or Fire Fist as he hilariously named himself) a character you empathise with, even as he descends into pyromania in the final act.
While there are a lot of positives to take from ‘Deadpool 2′, the film does have its flaws that teeter on the edge of having a significant effect on the film. Given the nature of firing jokes at you at an alarming rate, it falls occasionally on the side of jokes not landing. When they land, they’re great, but when they don’t land, you can feel the awkward silence in the room waiting for the next one. There are several of these moments, and they all add up into stretches of the film feeling like dead air. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem, but the film is 2 hours long, and these long stretches of jokelessness, or unfunny jokes, stay with you.
Secondly, I have praised the film’s wider scope already in this review, but this proves to be the film’s double-edged sword. At several points, the film tries to do things that are just too much for its budget. There’s a very fun sequence that’s effectively a truck chase sequence and the truck, at multiple points, looks like it belongs in a PS2 racing game. In the final act, there’s a self-aware CGI fight (Deadpool literally shouts “CGI fight!” at the screen to set it up) that feels weightless when it really shouldn’t given the characters involved because of how blatantly CGI it is.
Finally, ‘Deadpool 2′ suffers from the same problem as the first film. ‘Deadpool’ very clearly set itself up as the antithesis to the MCU, a superhero film that breaks all the rules and refuses to follow convention, and yet follows all the rules and the convention. The act of acknowledging the conventions before they happen doesn’t excuse the fact that they remain followed. I enjoyed the self-referential nature of the film because it’s something that’s so rarely seen, but it frustrated me to see the trends followed and see missed opportunities to do change things up.
All told, I did really enjoy ‘Deadpool 2′. I thought it was funny throughout, the cast were all excellent, and it has, without a doubt, the best mid-credits scene of all-time. There are problems abound that come with trying to exceed the expectations set by a great first outing, but I honestly feel ‘Deadpool 2′ has more re-watchability than the original because of its attempts to go bigger than the first. Oh, and keep an eye out for some excellent cameos!