2016’s Deadpool, the first attempt at a hard R-rated superhero franchise since that genre started its boom, was a largely enjoyable introduction to its violent, vulgar, wisecracking anti-hero. It spent a lot of time on its protagonist’s backstory while trying to hammer home how he is unlike other superheroes. Despite that, it felt very much like every other superhero movie. I got a little tired of his act before the end, but it certainly seemed as though there was the potential for something really fun. Deadpool 2 lives up to that potential.
Whereas the first one talked a big game, this one actually does occasionally subvert common superhero tropes as it messes with audience expectations. The plot is simple: Deadpool tries to protect teenage mutant Russell from time-travelling Cable. Deadpool 2 emphasizes the humor and generally takes itself less seriously than its already irreverent predecessor. Think of it less as an R-rated superhero movie and more as an over-the-top action/comedy that just happens to be about a superhero.
The success of these films relies on the actor playing Deadpool to be more charming than annoying. Ryan Reynolds is consistently able to find that balance. Reynolds understands exactly what makes him who he is. It is not the type of performance that wins awards, however, Deadpool 2 rests completely on Reynolds’ shoulders and he carries it as well as possible. He receives a little support from fellow returnees Morena Baccarin as his love interest, Vanessa, Karan Soni as loyal cab driver Dopinder and Jewish comedian T.J. Miller as Deadpool’s confidant, Weasel.
There are also new characters joining in the fun. Josh Brolin plays Cable like someone slowly realizing they are not in a serious action movie. Julian Dennison, as young Russell, does not have much time to establish his character amid all the wackiness, but he does alright. Finally, Zazie Beetz is dryly amusing as the lucky Domino. As good as they are, if the lead character did not entertain, this would be a disaster. Thankfully, Ryan Reynolds is a charismatic and committed enough actor to pull it off.
The director of Deadpool 2 is former stunt double David Leitch. Leitch directed Atomic Blonde and worked on John Wick so there is an assumption the action sequences will be good. Disappointingly, there is nothing particularly special about them. That said, there is one scene where the action adds to the humor. I do not want to give anything away, but it comes around the halfway point and is one of the funniest action scenes I have seen in a long while. The rest of the action does not reach that level.
Though Deadpool 2 is a departure from the superhero norm, it follows the formula structurally and story-wise. Remove the fourth-wall breaking and swearing and it is not that different from the X-Men, Spider-Man or Avengers series’. The difference in terms of its story is that it mixes a lot of cynicism in with its payoffs. That leads to some surprises and makes the overall film feel more subversive than it really is.
Deadpool 2 is far from a perfect film. The story is rushed, the characters are shallow and the fight choreography is relatively weak. However, its goal was to be a fun, violent, action/comedy. It fills that category pretty darn well. The first one introduced Deadpool’s world and the sequel takes advantage of it any which way it can. I am not sure what a third movie can do that this series has not already done. This movie definitely made me want to find out.
3¾ out of 5
By Ben Pivoz
Ben’s Movie Reviews
Read Ben’s last movie review on Disobedience.