Director: David Leitch | Screenwriter: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Ryan Reynolds | Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Jack Kesy | Distributor: 20th Century Fox | Running Time: 119 min. | MPAA Rating: R
It’s time to make the chimichangas once more, but Deadpool 2 doesn’t exactly bring a new recipe to the table, more or less reheating his fourth-wall breaking insanity with discerning splashes of new characters to ally and assault. Is it still as funny and biting as the previous film was with savaging the unstoppable superhero cinema franchises? Absolutely, but between the laughs is a lingering element of sequel-itis and overstuffing, a common trait of most superhero sequels that could use a good ribbing. The film may be knowing enough to mock Fox’s lack of character licensing and their poor decisions with previous Marvel movies, but it could stand to defy convention a little more as it defies just about all other expectations of the genre.
At the very least, there’s reassurance from scene one that Ryan Reynolds hasn’t lost his touch as Wade “Deadpool” Wilson. He’s still cocky in his combat, cute with his lunacy, and brutal with his critique of the superhero universe he occupies, beginning the film with a big middle finger to last year’s hit of Logan. His world is still a bloody one, unapologetic and unflinching with the violence, where blood spills and bones are broken. For the many parents venturing out to the theater, Deadpool has your number with his commentary on how the many fathers and mothers are wiping brows over leaving the kids behind for this film.
But, wait, didn’t Deadpool make a similar joke in the last movie? Yes, and there are plenty more moments of deja vu. Expect another dig at Xavier’s school of mutants beings surprisingly sparse, albeit with a quickly comical cameo. Count on another music montage as our heroes charge into battle. The chimichanga line doesn’t even have variation, perhaps because the screenwriters thought it was a catchphrase so nice they’d repeat it twice. Like warmed-up leftovers, not as tasty as the first time.
I was very much looking forward to Deadpool 2 for the addition of the time-traveling soldier Cable, played with gruff grit by Josh Brolin. Cable was a staple straight-man pairing for Deadpool in the comics and if he was ever-present, the film could develop some wicked chemistry between the two. And while the back and forth of Deadpool and Cable is still a riot, Brolin, unfortunately, has to share the screen with a host of other characters that crowd each other off the screen. Teamed up with Deadpool is Domino (Zazie Beetz), an agile assassin with the power of luck, aka plot armor. Wade will also befriend the tubby teen Firefist (Julian Dennison), a struggling mutant that may or may not bring about the end of the world. Also included in Deadpool’s ever-expanding family is the scornful X-Men of Colossus and Nega, the bartending duo of T.J. Miller and Karan Soni, and the blind and loveable Leslie Uggams. Oh, and Wade’s fiancee (Morena Baccarin) is there. Oh, and Nega has a girlfriend. Oh, and a large ensemble team filled out with the likes of Terry Crews and Bill Skarsgård.
This is all too much, even if the gags keep on coming with a more pleasingly furious pace. One can sense that film is trying to be more inclusive and progressive, but with the same level of ADD and missing thought as Deadpool’s methods of murder and ineffectively slicing bullets and point-blank range. There’s nothing wrong with featuring Deadpool building up a task force comprised of fat kids, black women, lesbians, Indians, and diabetics. But when all of them are vying for the attention of the merc with a mouth, most of what they get is lip-service. We don’t get to know much of anything about Domino, past a brief mention of her past in the climax, and she’s mostly seen as that unstoppable action hero that has no flaws, no need of assistance, and not much personality. Firefist could have stolen the show as the focal point of the conflict, but his discontentment with his weight and outsider nature is, again, mentioned in passing more than playing a large part of the story. I’m surprised Nega even returned considering she has so few lines that her girlfriend speaks more than she does, especially concerning when all she says is “hi” to Deadpool.
Even with all that baggage of desperately hitting so many bullet-points of characters and inclusion, the film is still the same old hoot. There’s heaps of ridiculously bloody action, fun dialogue that never takes itself too seriously, and real teeth-gnashing when the film occasionally switches gears to go for that darker story. The satirical glee still runs through the veins of Ryan Reynolds with a character that sends up everything from the DC Universe to the Marvel Cinematic Universe to whatever warped universe the actor Ryan Reynolds exist within that made him pick up the script for Green Lantern. While I left the theater with a big stupid grin on my face, there was still a nagging thought that if the Deadpool franchise can’t recognize its own shortcomings, it’s going to end up being on the same chopping block as X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And if the mid-credit ending is anything to go by, I doubt Reynolds wants such a comparison.