Film review: “Deadpool 2” (2018)

“Deadpool 2” (2018)



Written by: Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick and Ryan Reynolds

Directed by: David Leitch

Featuring: Ryan Reynolds,  Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, and Jack Kesy

Deadpool: “Sorry, I’m late. I was rounding up all the gluten in the world and launching it into space where it can’t not hurt us ever again.”

Here we are after the undisputed success of “Deadpool” (2016) this time two years ago, there was never a doubt that a sequel would be produced to cash in on what was a tough road to the screen for the self-titled ‘merc with a mouth’. The perfect combination of R rated violence, humor and action was something sorely missing in comic book movies to that point – it could have been said to have filled a niche with it’s over the top everything. Not only that but its main champion writer/producer/ star Ryan Reynolds who after years of trying to be an A lister was, before this breakthrough, being shown the door to ignominy. In fact, the first movie was not even on studio Fox’s’ radar until test footage was leaked that gave a taste of the possibility of what “Deadpool” could be – the rest is history, on a modest US$58 million budget managed to not only set the record for the opening R rated weekend box office but generated over US$750 million worldwide. “Deadpool” also led to the possibility of other serious R rated comic book movies being produced which now seems like a no-brainer but until this time it was thought to be commercially unviable.

After a few false starts, the main one being the jettisoning of original director Tim Miller for “John Wick” (2014) and “Atomic Blonde” (2017) director David Leitch, this new movie arrives fully formed as well as being a very good sequel,  and compliment to the first – audiences will be pleased with the ramped-up action, characters as well as fourth wall breaking humor while sidestepping the issues of success, as the budget for this movie is still modest by Hollywood comic book standards. I have to be honest that when I heard that Leitch had replaced Miller as director my heart had sunk as his first solo outing “Atomic Blonde” was not close to being a movie I thought was good, in fact while the action was acceptable, the narrative was wholly unoriginal as well as being sparse. However, given that both Deadpool movies are light on story but heavy on action it seems any issues with director are going to be on the back burner, for now anyway.

This time around Deadpool forms a team of mutants called the X-Force to protect young mutant Russell from the time-traveling soldier Cable. That’s pretty much the story, the complications arise with the interaction of our titular hero with almost everyone else in the movie, so it’s basically a pretty familiar plot with the twist that no-one really likes the hero and the fact that it plays much more comedy than anything else.

There is no doubt that both Deadpool movies are driven by Ryan Reynolds who has taken it on himself to not only be the face of the franchise (yes, I know he wears a mask) but will seemingly shy away from nothing to remind everyone who the hero is as well as what kind of movie he is making. It may seem like his efforts are tireless but after two failed goes at superheroes as well as a few other franchises Reynolds recognizes what he has, that it may not last long so he had better make hay while the sun shines. To his credit he carries out everything Deadpool related with as much originality as he can, no one is safe from his humor, no star, studio or property which in the days of trying not to be offensive, he is a welcome relief. This new instalment may not have the cutting wit of the first but it still manages to bait and switch many characters and storylines in under two hours.

What the filmmakers have done with this new movie is to expand the cast as well as bringing a character that many readers will recognize from marvel lore, not only that but he is a major part of the Marvel Comic book Universe, that being the time travelling mutant, Cable, played here by Josh Brolin who is perfectly cast as the movies central antagonist. The definite new star of the movie is Brolin who seems like perfect casting as the gruff Cable who really does steal the movie, as he has already done this year as Thanos, in fact as he does in almost all of his performances – he plays off Reynolds like a master, in fact this is more like a buddy comedy movie than anything else which is where it succeeds over the first instalment. Returning after the first movie are Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller and Brianna Hildebrand who all serve very different purposes as girlfriend, comedy counterpart and a link to the X-Men which are always made fun of. While I enjoy Baccarin I can see that she may have a been a character to hold Deadpool back, as for Miller he is having issues of his own so he will not be back for a third. As for Hildebrand who was dynamite in the first film as well as featuring in the second season of “The Exorcist” television show, here she has grown more assured and is a bright spot among bright spots, I hope she returns for a third film or even a possible X-Force movie. The newcomers include Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, and Jack Kesy who all add so much, along with Brolin, but of the three it is Beetz who has spent a few years in small roles grabs the reins and runs with the best character in the movie besides the titular hero. Beetz as Domino is as much fun as Deadpool who has a super power just as odd, she has great lines and at times is a co-lead as capable as Deadpool himself – I hope she returns for any sequel or spinoff.

One of the major strengths of the first movie was the humor which is on full display here with the breaking of the fourth wall to address the audience as well as to make comments on not only the incestuous nature of hero films but of the repetitive nature that all audiences have to recognize by now. Deadpool the movie and characters are all about trying to subvert expectations so it is with great relish we see “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” (2016) star Julian Denison here as a young mutant as well as the maguffin of the piece, he has a natural wit that fits in well with Reynolds and compatriots as well as again not being the typical ‘kid’ in a movie as the annoying brat that is more the norm in Hollywood movies. This all goes back to the humor as well as commentary that is to be made which is done by Reynolds himself who for the most part speaks from experience having been through the mill himself, as a young and now a middle aged actor.

My only concern is with director David Leitch who on the surface may seem like a good fit but obviously has a hard time understanding the difference between plot and narrative as well as how to seamlessly fit these two elements together while maintaining the action as well as the edge to the movie, this was something Tim Miller from the first movie was able to do, his absence in my mind is all too noticeable. The problems that befell Leitch’s first solo outing “Atomic Blonde” are all to visible here, what makes for a great stunt co-ordinator may not make for a good director.

If you enjoyed the first movie then this will be right up your alley, it moves the story along as much as possible and also lays some groundwork for a spinoff or direct sequel. It is apparent Reynolds has as much fun playing the part as audiences do going along to see him. This is that rare sequel that raises the bar delivering what should be one of the blockbusters of this year.

“Deadpool 2” is out now only in cinemas.

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