Let me start this review with one simple phrase: Deadpool 2 is not for kids.
2016’s Deadpool was one of the unexpected smash hits of the year. It took a character who was hugely popular with comic book fans (but largely unknown by general audiences) and turned him into a superstar, rapidly escalating him to heights heretofore seen only by the likes of Spider-Man or Batman. It was crass, violent, irreverant…and precisely what audiences wanted after years of Marvel Studio’s “play it safe” approach and Warner Bros overly grim and gritty films. Simply put, they captured lightning in a bottle. After the success of Deadpool, a sequel was inevitable, but the first film was always going to be a tough act to follow. With Deadpool 2, were in store for a satisfying sequel like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan…or something more like Ghostbusters 2?
It’s always difficult to follow up a successful comedy film; most attempts ultimately end up leaning too heavily on jokes and tropes established in the first film and often feel more like a retread than a legitimate sequel experience. Fortunately, Deadpool 2 managed to beat this trend, more or less; it not only once again delivers the fourth-wall-breaking antics of the first, but somehow manages to top the previous film in just about every way. It’s funnier, more emotional and dramatic, has an amazing supporting cast, and a story that doesn’t need to adhere to origin story tropes. When all of these elements are brought together, we have a film that is as fresh and surprising as the original.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of Ryan Reynolds to this series; without him, we never would have even seen the original film, let alone this sequel. Deadpool is the role Reynolds was born to play and it absolutely shows in each and every scene he is in. Whether he’s behind the mask or layers of prosthetic makeup, he is able to deliver every ounce of sorrow, humor, and rage along with the dirty jokes and slapstick humor. Along for the ride is David Leitch, who took over directorial duties from Tim Miller. Fortunately, the film was in good hands with Leitch, whose work with the two John Wick films and Atomic Blonde made him an obvious fit. New to the series is Zazie Beetz, who portrays Domino, a Mutant with the ability to subliminally and psionically initiate random telekinetic acts that affect probability in her favor by…well, it’s easier to say she just has “good luck”. She immediately felt like she belonged in this setting and had her share of scene-stealing moments; I can definitely see her becoming a fan-favorite character in short order. Fellow newcomer Julian Dennison brings a surprising about of depth to his character Firefist, a character whose exists in large part to drive the plot forward. Dennison brings the right amount of anguish and humor to a character that would otherwise be little more than a MacGuffin. Last, but certainly not least, is Josh Brolin; not only was he Thanos in Infinity War, but he’s also portraying the time-traveling Mutant known as Cable. Brolin does an excellent job with the character, filling the shoes of a gruff, gritty 90s-styled comic book anti-hero quite well.
When stacked up against the likes of Infinity War, the plot of Deadpool 2 feels downright mundane. Instead of fighting against aliens wielding the power of the universe itself, we have an extremely personal story about overcoming loss, the meaning of family, and the downfalls of vengeance. These elements are woven in with gleeful obscenity, rampant vulgarity, and gratuitous violence in what is a surprisingly fulfilling movie. Rather than provide a detailed plot summary, this is a film that benefits most from going in a little blind. All you need to know is this: After failing to join the X-Men, Deadpool assembles his own squad of Mutants (which he dubs X-Force) to save the young Firefist from the time-traveling Cable. I’d say more…but, you’ll appreciate everything a little bit more if I just leave it at that. The smaller scale of the plot is, however, a wonderful change of pace from the numeroud end-of-the-world scenarios we’ve gotten with most of the recent superhero flicks.
It’s not all peaches & cream in Deadpool Land, unfortunately. The film is most certainly not kid-friendly, so take this as your final warning before bringing Junior to the movies with you; the film is wonderfully crass and is never ashamed to wear it directly on its sleeve. The fights – while just as gory and violent as the previous film’s – aren’t quite as much fun this time around. Cable does not receive the sort of introduction the 90s fan-favorite deserves, and much of the CGI is not quite up to the standards many of us have come to expect after 10 years worth of solid superhero movies. The film also relies a little too heavily on certain superhero movie tropes, but not to the detriment of the overall end-product. Some of the self-aware humor will also make the film seem rather dated in short order; they were very aware it was coming out during the same year as Marvel Studio’s Infinity War and were not at all afraid to reference this fact.
Lastly (and I’m fully aware that this may sound pretty odd), the movie was almost a little too funny at times. The sheer number of hilarious one-liners, quick jokes, and one-and-done references made it a little hard to catch ’em all, especially during one particular scene where I was simply laughing too hard to catch everything that was going on. It almost needs repeat viewings to fully appreciate everything going on. I’m struggling to truly call this a negative aspect of the film, but it’s at least worth mentioning.
While no movie is ever perfect, the shortcomings found in Deadpool 2 are easily outweighed by the numerous positives. The brilliant cast, Ryan Reynold’s quick wit, and the unexpected twists and turns of the plot all come together to form a very solid superhero movie. It’s an instant recommendation for fans, If you loved Deadpool, you’ll probably love Deadpool 2. but folks looking for a more “traditional” superhero movie will want to look elsewhere. If the cape-and-cowl set (or gratuitous profanity and violence) isn’t quite your taste…well, I’m sure you won’t have any trouble finding seats for Show Dogs. With all of that in mind, I wholeheartedly recommend seeing this movie at least once.
Ultimately, I have to give it 4 out of 5 Doug E’s. It ain’t perfect, but it’s pretty dang enjoyable.