By: Will Ashton (Three Beers) –
Deadpool was a flash-in-the-pan success. It was an invigorated, raunchy, unabashed, undeterred, zany, (generally) uninhibited, gory, and unexpectedly sweet anti-superhero sleeper hit that prevailed against the odds to be 2016’s crowning blockbuster success. It wasn’t much, necessarily, but it was refreshing — particularly in a continuously crowded superhero market. It was the class clown cracking jokes in the back of the classroom, the loud-mouth jackass willing to make fun of the teacher. Deadpool, the character AND his movie, was willing to push back against the status quo (while still, in a way, fitting in the status quo…). Deadpool was the one guy in school willing to make fun of everyone and show his ass for our amusement.
Was it as cool as it thought it was? Not really. Was it as clever or funny as it found itself to be? Probably not. But it was, no doubt, a Deadpool movie. Love or hate it, director Tim Miller, screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and star/producer Ryan Reynolds made the ultimate Deadpool adaptation. It was too good to be true, but it was exactly what it needed to be. It was crude. It was lewd. It was juvenile. It was violent. It was excessive. It was jubilant. It was debauched. It was Deadpool. And it was lots of fucking fun.
But typically, this type of success only comes once. Deadpool is a lightning in a bottle hit that can never be repeated the same way again. That doesn’t mean a sequel was doomed to fail, necessarily; it just had all the odds stacked against it. There was a lot of pressure for Deadpool’s first sequel. Sure enough, Deadpool 2 doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor’s heights. But it’s still fun. As debauched, demented, crass, and crude as it was before, all while adding more and more to the equation that ultimately weighs it down more than it should, David Leitch’s overstuffed-yet-vigorously eager blockbuster sequel is an enjoyable slice of R-rated entertainment. For those audience members who were delighted by Deadpool‘s mean-spirited, hyper-jokey antics the first time around, they’ll likely be amusement again. But the novelty isn’t what it was before, and there’s no doubt Deadpool 2 wouldn’t shake up the system like the first one did. For comparison’s sake, Deadpool 2 isn’t Spider-Man 2, but it’s not The Amazing Spider-Man 2, for what it’s worth. Deadpool does shoot his wad a little bit this time around, but he still goes out with a bang.
Deadpool might’ve been born from Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza, and raised into less-than-maturity by several other comic creators in the proceeding years, but Ryan Reynolds is the perfect stepdad. Despite his smoldering good looks, captivating presence, and movie-star charisma, he truly knows Deadpool’s oddball character, and the charming actor relishes his absurd tendencies to the absolute max. It’s pretty perfect casting, and this time, Ryan Reynolds increases his creative involvement. In addition to returning to his acting/producing roles, Reynolds also co-wrote the screenplay with Reese and Wernick. As a result, the A-list actor’s voice can be heard bellowing throughout this big-budgeted sequel. He gives the role everything he’s got, and his love, passion, and effort are truly felt and seen. It suits him and his silly sensibilities well.
Deadpool 2 takes admiral strides to bring more weight and maturity to the titular character’s story. There’s a genuine attempt to add emotional stakes and dramatic gravity to the story, even if they’re often undercut by Deadpool’s wise-cracking throughout the movie — which was mostly absent from the first one. While it doesn’t always work out, it’s apparent Reynolds and the rest of the dutiful filmmakers are challenging themselves when they easily could’ve played it safe with their spanking new sequel. The jokes can sometimes be tired, and there’s never the same punch to their delivery, but the story is certainly a lot grander and more expansive (and a hell of a lot more expensive) in its scope and scale. They’ve got money to burn this time, and they don’t waste it. It’s obvious Deadpool 2 wants to be worthy of being on IMAXs and other big screens around the world. That said, the characters and the copious gags aren’t glossed over in their favor.
Additionally, a handful of the new supporting characters make a darn good impression too. The best of the newbies is undoubtedly Domino (Atlanta‘s Zazie Beetz). While the supporting character doesn’t get as much screentime as she deserves, Beetz undoubtedly makes the best of it, in an attention-grabbing performance that should hopefully promise a bigger, stronger role in the future. Additionally, Julian Dennison makes a great impression here, just like he did in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, as Firefist. His pivotal character serves as a big emotional catalyst for our lead Deadpool, and Dennison also does a great job of selling the angst, anger, self-doubt, and inner turmoil that bubbles deep inside this fiery character.
Ultimately, Deadpool 2 can’t capture the same lightning magic as the first Deadpool. That was expected, but it does make it harder to swallow. The well-worn novelty of Deadpool isn’t as strong, particularly as the character goes through many of the same gags and a few expected beats. Additionally, the foul-mouthed lead character finds himself in a movie that’s generally a lot more chaotic, scatterbrained, and all-over-the-place — especially compared to the focus, straightforward predecessor. The result is a movie that typically tries to throw as much at the screen as possible, and that results in a sequel that’s more tiresome and demanding than its well-regarded original. At nearly two hours, Deadpool 2 can sometimes be a little too much Deadpool. The first movie’s self-contained 109 minutes might not seem like a huge difference on paper, but it certainly feels less taxing compared to watching the sequel — particularly if you watch/rewatch Tim Miller’s original 2016 movie so close to the newest film. To be clear, Deadpool 2 is (mostly) an entertaining, consistently enjoyable sequel. But it had a mighty big task reaching the same cultural heights at the first film, and it was bound not to succeed in the same manner.
There was a lot of hype of the introduction of Cable (Josh Brolin). The character was teased since the end credits teaser for Deadpool, and there was been no shortage of speculation about who would play the part and how they would play it. Sure enough, perhaps because he finds himself lost in Deadpool’s movie or in stark contradiction to his motor-mouthed antics, Cable is overlooked and underused. Comparisons to his recent work in Avengers: Infinity War are unavoidable, ultimately, and it’s true that Brolin gave a stronger performance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe team-up mega-blockbuster since he had more to do as the Grimace-looking purple super-baddie. When stacked against that character, Brolin never gels perfectly into Deadpool 2, and the steps to develop his character’s backstory are pretty clunky. That’s not to say that Brolin gave a bad performance; it just never captures its full power.
And it’s worth noting that Deadpool 2 doesn’t have a firm villain for most of its running time. Sure, Cable seemingly fits the bill for a good chunk of time, but most comic readers know how he fits into the equation, and Cable doesn’t exactly feel like an imposing presence in his screentime. He’s seemingly a broken man, one who’ll likely remind audiences a bit of the Terminator, trying to fix the future (his present) by going back to the past, even if he has to eventually team (x-)forces with Deadpool.
Deadpool 2 is an exhausting and an exhilarating experience. If you’re not a fan of self-referential humor or constant quips undermining the fraught emotional stakes of your movie (even when the movie is trying to earn some genuine emotional stakes), then you shouldn’t expect to like its sequel. It doubles down on its perversely comedic elements to produce a film that’s even more in the spirit of its ridiculous character, for better or for worse. There are some people who wouldn’t enjoy Deadpool 2, but for those who wish to embark on its silly, blabber mouthing journey — filled with better action set pieces and more creative challenges — then you will likely enjoy David Leitch’s highly-anticipated sequel. But Deadpool 2 does make an effort. Some of his jokes might be hacky, and he might be repeating himself a little more this time, but there is solid effort to make an enjoyable, crowd-pleasing sequel here. Therefore, the franchise’s fortunes might wane a bit, but it’s far from dead. It’s ready to go all in and give it everything its got to give.
Last Call: All kinds of goodness.
Deadpool 2 (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time a character (mostly Deadpool) makes a reference to a different film.
Take a Drink: every time a character dies on-screen in a terrifically/not terrifically gruesome fashion.
Do a Shot: during the first big bombshell moment in the film (it arrives early).
Take a Drink: any time a character wants Deadpool to have his mouth officially closed shut (again).
Take a Drink (Maybe a Sip): anytime another movie/franchise is referenced non-verbally.
Do a Shot: during the post-credits sequences’ biggest reveal.