More in this category
In typical superhero story fashion, Deadpool 2 begins by robbing its hero of the power that makes him special.
No, not his accelerated healing factor — his ability to surprise.
The first Deadpool felt like a breath of fresh air, a corrective to years of super-serious super-stories. Here, finally, was a superhero who knew he was in a superhero movie, and knew how to play around with the conventions. Here was a guy who could say what we were all thinking, and lots of R-rated things we weren't.
All of those are still true about Wade Wilson in Deadpool 2. The difference is that none of it's shocking anymore, since we've been down this road before.
Yeah, Deadpool still feels like Deadpool
That's not to say Deadpool 2 is dull. If you enjoyed the first one, there's every chance you'll like this one as well. Similarly, if you hated the first one, you probably won't find much to love about the follow-up either.
Deadpool 2 has the same meta jokes (including jokes about the first Deadpool's box office performance), the same zippy action (this time courtesy of director David Leitch, a.k.a. One of the Guys Who Killed the Dog in John Wick), the same jokey needle drops (one involving a song from Annie). And it has an even better end-credits sequence than the last one did.
Wade Wilson still feels like the role Ryan Reynolds was born to play, and Reynolds continues to give this character everything he's got. Other characters you liked from the last film resurface, too, including Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Dopinder the cab driver (Karan Soni).
(So, unfortunately, does Weasel, played by T.J. Miller, whose recent offscreen antics probably help explain why not a single person in my theater laughed at any of his scenes.)
But more isn't always more
Then there's all the new stuff. And there is a lot of new stuff.
This film isn't just a Deadpool sequel. It's also a Cable origin story that explains how and why he's come to our time, and an X-Force prequel that introduces a whole bunch of fresh faces — fresh enough, Wade notes, to "carry the franchise 10 to 12 years from now," — to start getting the gang together for the next film.
Some of those additions are pretty fantastic. Domino (Zazie Beetz) is as cool as Wade is frenetic, and gets the single best action sequence in the entire thing. Peter (Rob Delaney) is a scene-stealer as a totally normal guy. And Robbie is basically Julian Dennison playing Ricky Baker in Hunt for the Wilderpeople again, which is to say he's instantly lovable.
The problem is that there's just so dang many of them. The new characters and story elements feel undercooked, the old ones feel underserved, and all of it starts to feel like a jumbled mess. Any deeper themes get dropped or sidelined, in service of moving the story along to the next big set piece.
Some of Deadpool 2 works and some of it doesn't, but all of it would probably work better if it weren't competing so hard for attention and screen time.
Deadpool 2 wants you to laugh and cry
That goes double for Deadpool 2's attempts at emotional depth, of which there are way more than you'd think. Wade describes this early on as a "family film," and the film tries hard to deliver on feels. There are entire scenes where the comedy recedes completely and tragedy comes to the forefront.
It's just hard to tell, sometimes, which mode we're in at any given time. Deadpool 2 jumps between lols and awws so quickly that I practically got whiplash. More than once I found myself anticipating a punchline during a gut-wrenching moment, or still digesting a sad moment as a silly one came along to interrupt it.
No character suffers more from this back-and-forth than Cable (Josh Brolin), a character so dark and gritty that Deadpool wonders aloud if he's come over from the DC universe. (There's that self-referential humor again!)
Cable's got good reason to be bummed out, as we learn, but the film barely gives us any time to process his tragic backstory. So it's just kind of there, slowly getting buried underneath an avalanche of butt jokes and superhero snark.
But that's okay. There'll be plenty of time to explore his backstory later on. After all, as Wade himself would probably tell you, Deadpool 2 is definitely getting a sequel.