Deadpool 2 movie review: It’s a Marvel how Ryan Reynolds got away with this
Director - David Leitch
Cast - Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, Karan Soni, Morena Baccarin, TJ Miller
Rating - 4/5
In the panoply of superhero movies… Panoply? That sounds wrong; it’s too pretentious. And who says ‘panoply’ anyway? Deadpool would never approve. Let’s try that again. Ahem. There is a plethora of… Ugh. No. Third time’s the charm. Let’s do this. In the pantheon of superhero movies… There we go! Finally. In the pantheon of superhero movies, few are as proudly individualistic as Tim Miller’s Deadpool, and, as Deadpool himself wastes no time in reminding us in the sequel, few have been as successful.
Following this sort of success can never be easy. For instance, while a loyal fanbase has been cultivated and solid goodwill established, a line has also been drawn. Invites have been revoked. Factions have formed. Those who weren’t completely on board with the tone Miller and star Ryan Reynolds established in the first film have absolutely no business gatecrashing this party, and nor have they been made welcome.
Watch the Deadpool 2 video review here
Deadpool 2 is more violent than the first movie. It’s also way filthier, magnificently tone-deaf and utterly relentless in the grimy path that it has chosen to walk. I liked it better than the first film, but in the interest of absolute honesty, I must confess that I wasn’t quite as taken by the first Deadpool as you lot seemed to have been. So I walked into Deadpool 2 fully prepared to feel left out, like Hawkeye in Avengers: Infinity War. Ignored. But I was in for the most unpleasantly pleasant surprise. And before this review is over, I will have compared Deadpool 2 to The Dark Knight. And also the Scary Movie series.
Immediately - in the very first scene, in fact - it is made quite apparent that Deadpool 2 isn’t quite the sequel you were expecting. And honestly, it wasn’t really difficult - considering the self-referential nature of the beast - to form a theory as to where Deadpool 2 would take the Merc with the Mouth. Of course he was going to make jokes about cashing in on his own popularity and making a rushed sequel. Of course he was going to make fun of the nature of sequels in general, particularly their poor hit rate. And he does. Duh.
But Deadpool 2 is more than just a rushed sequel. It’s a rushed sequel that wants to be good. It’s a movie with surprising emotional depth and, especially in how it handles the story of a certain teenage character, devastating darkness.
It catches up with Wade Wilson, Mr Pool to the rest of us, a few years after the events of the first movie. He still looks like a hard boiled Voldemort, and he’s still running that mouth like there’s no Deadpool 3. Taken by his spirit in their adventures together, Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead invite him to tag along on a trial basis for the X-Men, and on that mission he meets young Russell.
Russell is a young mutant who has been locked up in an orphanage his entire life, a torturous place where he has suffered abuse at the hands of a creepy conservative warden who wants to purge mutants like him of their powers.
But Russell is hot property - a time travelling cyborg, as unstoppable as Deadpool’s ability to conjure pop-culture references, is hot on his trail. His name is Cable, and he has certain information about the future that forces him to intervene in this timeline - and especially Russell’s destiny. This sets Wade - who decides that the young mutant has given his life the purpose that it has been lacking - and Cable - who wants nothing but revenge - on a collision course.
Despite this rather grim-sounding premise, a lot of how much you like Deadpool 2 will depend on your tolerance for the ratatat reference-a-minute style that Reynolds is so good at. In that department, it blows Steven Spielberg’s recent film, Ready Player One, clean out of the water. After a point, the dialogue in Deadpool 2 sounds like you’re listening to a particularly excitable foreigner. As you are assaulted by a barrage of words - unrelenting, unstoppable, even in the most serious of scenes - your brain sedates itself, and begins to filter out only the most familiar ones.
And as expected, the audience at my screening reacted loudly every time Deadpool took a swipe at the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or Wolverine, or Reynolds’ Green Lantern. These are easy targets. This is old material. Jokes about Jesus, Yentl, and - God help us all - the Me Too movement, however, were met with stony silence. There has to be a scientific reason behind the satisfaction one derives from understanding a reference designed to be exclusive - perhaps it offers a sense of intelligence where there might not necessarily be any, but the answer’s probably way simpler than that. In that regard, Deadpool 2 - and even the first one - isn’t unlike those terrible Scary Movie movies - at least when it’s in attack mode. But what makes Deadpool significantly better in quality is that the references it pounds you over the head with aren’t empty, but brimming with context - although the depth of this context is rather sketchy.
And like the comedy - which doesn’t pull punches, a commitment to the cause that I admire - another significant improvement comes in the form of the action. But then, what else could you expect from David Leitch, the man who replaced Miller in the director’s chair after Miller had a falling out with Reynolds, and who is described in the credits as ‘one of the guys who killed John Wick’s dog’. Besides the knockout John Wick, Leitch also directed what I consider to be one of the best action sequences of the decade -- in his Cold War spy thriller, Atomic Blonde. Both those movies highlight his knack for stylised action and careful world building, which came quite handy in Deadpool 2, the film which gives us our first cinematic X-Force.
He’s made a movie that feels just as much his own as it does a Deadpool sequel. It occupies that same hyper-real fantasia of the first film, but with enough flair - certainly visually - to feel independent of the original. Like Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, in which each film is stylistically and thematically different from the others - the titles are the most obvious giveaway - Deadpool 2 is just as individualistic as the first movie. It’s a film that requires every moment of your undivided attention, right through to the inspired post-credits scene - and it thoroughly deserves it.
Watch the Deadpool 2 trailer here