Simply put, DEADPOOL 2 is an obnoxious mess. Flooded with relentless meta-humor and fourth-wall breaks, the film mostly avoids taking itself seriously. Following the surprisingly satisfying first installment in 2016, DEADPOOL 2 doubles down on its predecessor’s juvenile antics, resulting in a film that spends too much time glorifying its own self-righteousness and never completely finding its footing.
Returning as the title character, Ryan Reynolds plays Deadpool (his full name being Wade Wilson), a quick-witted, indestructible superhero with 12-year-old level humor, who can’t (and won’t) die. After the events of the first film, Deadpool has found himself comfortably in his preferred line of work: brutally killing “bad guys” across the globe – as the film sharply opens up with a montage of grotesque and glorified murderous violence. With severed limbs flying left and right (and towards the camera, for the 3D effect of course), these opening moments set the “don’t give a f—” tone for the rest of the film. All is fine for Deadpool until the “bad guys” (in quotes again because no one really knows who these guys are, and I guess it doesn’t matter anyway) track him back to his apartment and ambush him on the night of his anniversary, in which he is celebrating with his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). The moments Wade and Vanessa share before the ambush actually offer a glimpse of heart, adding a dash of depth to their relationship, but, because its DEADPOOL the movie, the script quickly deflates the romance with a strap-on joke and a pop culture reference. Regardless, these character moments are short-lived, and this is where things become complicated. Before we know it, Deadpool is off on another adventure.
On paper, DEADPOOL 2 hits the quota for a fun summer movie: intense action sequences, humor, stardom in the leading role, and even a little bit of heart. Where the film runs into trouble is in the execution. Temporarily putting aside the humor, there are some distinct problems with both pacing and structure. The script, co-written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds, feels unfinished. For almost the first half of the film, the story beats are all over the place – 40 minutes in and a handful of inconsequential fight scenes later, we are finally starting to learn the motivations of both Deadpool and the villainous cyborg from the future Cable (played by Josh Brolin, also the villain in INFINITY WAR – the joke writes itself, and yes, they make it).
Director David Leitch never seems to obtain a firm grasp on the plot. Many moments in the story just miraculously unfold without any kind of explanation or reasoning, and before audience members start to become suspicious of the narrative unaccountability, the film will quickly make a self-aware joke about the writing, or utilize juvenile bro-humor – in hopes that shock value will be enough to distract audiences away from lazy storytelling. This type of comedy is outdated, overdone, and dare I say deceitful. All movies are technically “manipulative” by definition, but DEADPOOL 2 (and movies similar to it) move beyond manipulative and become insincere. Everything that happens in the film happens for the sake of its own existence: violence for the sake of violence, gore for the sake of gore, profanity for the sake of profanity, diversity for the sake of diversity. The film plays these as contributions to its own self-satisfaction, but in actuality, the disingenuous nature of these elements come across as irresponsible and insulting. On further analysis, it becomes clear to see that Deadpool is much less a character, and more of a walking Internet meme.
With that being said, however, it’s important to note that not all bad films are completely unredeemable, and DEADPOOL 2 is no exception. Things begin to shape up when Deadpool puts together his dynamic team he later coins “X-Force.” The chemistry between this unlikely ensemble of heroes, while as short-lived as it may be, proves to be fairly entertaining. One particular standout is Domino, played here by a remarkably likeable Zazie Beetz. She claims her superpower is luck, and her character is complete with nonchalant composure. Her playfulness back and forth with Deadpool is a much-needed balance, and you’ll start to wonder why it took so long to introduce her. Plus, the scene where she gets to show off her “lucky” powers doubles as one of the best action set pieces in the film. This particular scene is one-part car-chase and one-part fisticuffs – Leitch displaying his knowledge for electric choreography, giving a real sense of scope and tension to the scene.
Ultimately, Deadpool just wants to stop Russell (aka Firefist), a young mutant in distress, from getting revenge on the corrupt “Mutant Reeducation Center.” Russell, played by a quick-tempered Julian Dennison, essentially controls the emotional stakes and gravitas of the film. His imprisonment in his rehab orphanage draws some familiar and fascinating similarities to modern institutions that pose societal prowess and empower those with evil and perverted motivations. However, these thematics are barely delved into and instead used as a running gag.
DEADPOOL 2 is a confused and tired movie. The story lacks structure and direction, and the overall flair that sparks so much appeal has no evident function. Even with the addition of some fresh characters and moderately impressive visual sequences, it’s conclusive that DEADPOOL 2 is in fact quiet hollow: masquerading in a costume of boorish and vulgar attitudes in hopes to oversell an underdeveloped story; the film itself mirroring the title character.
For more DEADPOOL, read our review of the 2016 original:
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Tags: Alan Tudyk, Alexandra Shipp, Bill Skarsgård, brad pitt, Brianna Hildebrand, David Leitch, Eddie Marsan, Evan Peters, Fabian Nicieza, Hugh Jackman, Jack Kesy, James McAvoy, Jonathan Sela, josh brolin, Julian Dennison, Lauren Shuler Donner, Leslie Uggams, Lewis Tan, Matt Damon, Morena Baccarin, Nicholas Hoult, Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese, Rob Delaney, Rob Liefeld, Ryan Reynolds, Simon Kinberg, Stan Lee, Stefan Kapi?i?, T.J. Miller, Tye Sheridan, Tyler Bates, Zazie Beetz