Deadpool returns in an action-packed and profanity-laden superhero sequel.
Amid a glut of superhero movies, 2016's Deadpool stood out as something different.
Ryan Reynolds' indestructible and motor-mouthed title character was a departure from the usual comic book fare, and director Tim Miller chose a meta approach that lovingly mocked superhero film conventions and pop culture. Two years on, the Merc with a Mouth is back in David Leitch's sequel, with much more action and profanity.
The film begins with Wade Wilson (aka Deadpool) depressed and forced apart from his fiancee Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). To take his mind off things he is invited by his two X-Men pals from the first film, Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), to join them in their heroics. Their first mission is to help Russell (Julian Dennison), an angst-ridden mutant teenager who can shoot fire.
After Russell's antics get him and Deadpool shipped off to a hi-tech prison for mutants, things get more complicated when Cable (Josh Brolin), a part-human cyborg super-soldier from the future, (think Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator), arrives to hunt down Russell. He is determined to kill the teen as Russell will eventually become Firefist, the mutant who will go on to murder his own family. Reluctantly, Deadpool finds himself cast as protector - giving him responsibilities he is torn between wanting and rejecting.
From the start, Deadpool 2 is filled with parodies and in-jokes - Leitch is referred to in the credits as "one of the guys who killed the dog in John Wick", while Brolin's recent role as Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and Marvel's DC Comics rivals are also referenced. The action steps up a notch when Deadpool and his chums hold auditions for mutants to form the X-Force to protect Russell and right wrongs. Among those they sign up are Bedlam (Terry Crews), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgard) and Domino (Zazie Beetz).
Domino - a mutant blessed with preternatural luck - is the most memorable and is at the centre of some the film's best action sequences, and the Atlanta actress is a refreshing presence alongside Reynolds' eternally adolescent hero.
The introduction of so many new characters at a frenetic pace is a little bewildering and Deadpool 2 rarely pauses to allow you to catch your breath. There's often so much going on that we're barely allowed to enjoy a good joke or get to know a character before we're whizzing off to the next gag or plot point. The film is a mish-mash of a traditional sequel, expanding on the original's emotional theme of love and loss, and an origin story for its new team of mutants that veers towards a transparent attempt to set up a future franchise.
At times all this is great fun. Reynolds and the excellent Dennison admirably bounce off each other as a mismatched guardian and ward, while Brolin is, amazingly, perhaps even more chiseled and brusque than he was as Thanos - but the tone feels a bit off. In the first movie, it was fairly clear which plot threads, moments and characters we were supposed to invest our emotions in and which were thrown in as comic relief. Here the lines are blurred and as a result the movie never quite recaptures the sincerity that elevated its predecessor, while its humour is much more scattershot - with as many jokes missing the mark as hitting their target.
That's not to say Leitch has made a dud - there's still plenty of enjoyment to be had and gags galore. Chances are if you really loved the first film you'll like this too - but for others, Deadpool 2's relentlessness and lack of true emotional depth may begin to wear a little thin.
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