‘Deadpool 2’ review: The Merc with a Mouth’s newest adventure D.O.A.
Director: David Leitch
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, Morena Baccarin, Brianna Hildebrand, T.J. Miller, Julian Dennison, Karan Soni
Screenplay: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese, Rob Liefeld, Fabian Nicieza
Running time: 113 minutes
When Ryan Reynolds’ foul-mouthed Merc with a Mouth made his blood-soaked solo debut on the big screen in 2016, Deadpool was hailed for being an irreverent masterpiece.
Sticking a fork in the tights-and-capes genre, the character skewered our obsession with superhero fables by cleverly blending a half-laughs/half-action formula that perfectly thumbed its nose at the oh-so serious films being made by Marvel and DC.
And after Deadpool’s success (the R-rated film grossed over $780 million at the worldwide box office), a sequel was — of course — green lit.
But Reynolds — who already has one superheroic misfire under his belt with 2011’s Green Lantern — should have known that the lightning in a bottle he captured with the first Deadpool was going to be hard to repeat.
Sadly, as with a lot of sequels trying to follow in the footsteps of their offbeat predecessors (the first Hangover pops to mind), Deadpool 2 is a lot more been-there-done-that than something new and different. Where the first movie (which was nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar) caught moviegoers off guard with its tongue-in-cheek violence and wit, the sequel — credited inexplicably to five writers, including Reynolds, Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese, Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza — is like a leftover slice of pizza.
Whether or not you’re a fan of Marvel’s interconnected series of films that culminated in last month’s Avengers: Infinity War, it’s hard to dispute that each time out, the filmmakers and creative teams involved in those films try to approach the characters in a fresh way.
Ditto the Fox Marvel films — which have included the X-Men series and Hugh Jackman’s run on Wolverine.
Deadpool 2 is kind of like that zany guy you met at a party once. Yeah, he was fun that first time out. But when you meet him again, he’s just more of the same and that’s … boring.
When we catch up with Wade Wilson a.k.a. Deadpool, he’s busily planning babies with his beautiful Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Hired guns — as they do — interrupt the festivities and when the dust has settled, the love of his life is dead.
Deadpool now wants to die, but the universe won’t let him. The straight-laced metal monster Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) ferries him back to Professor Charles Xavier’s X-Mansion where Deadpool will — hopefully — heal his weary soul just enough to kill himself and join his beloved Vanessa in the sweet hereafter. As he trades quips with Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and her pink-haired girlfriend, Deadpool makes predictable jokes about the whereabouts of the rest of the X-Men (only one of which will make you laugh).
Into this mix comes the time-travelling Cable (played by Josh Brolin), who’s here to take out the teenaged Russell Collins (Julian Dennison) — the boy who will one day grow up to become Firefist. Seems Russell will one day become a mass killer and he’s the one responsible for murdering Cable’s wife and daughter.
After Brolin brought us a compelling Thanos in Infinity War, his Cable is rather flat and uninspiring — especially considering the stakes.
Saving Russell, and putting him on a different path, might just be Deadpool’s one-way ticket to heaven. So Wade pulls together an X-Force — including Domino (Atlanta’s Zazie Beetz), Bedlam (Terry Crews), the Vanisher (a surprise A-list actor), Zeitgeist (It’s Bill Skarsgard), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan) and a guy with no powers whatsoever (Rob Delaney) — to stop Cable and save the boy.
Also in the cast are T.J. Miller as Deadpool’s sidekick, Weasel, Leslie Uggams as Blind Al and Karan Soni as Dopinder, the cab driver who wants to join the team.
Directed by David Leitch, the action is pretty run-of-the-mill. There’s nothing particularly great or memorable, and that’s a shame given Leitch’s inventiveness on previous films like John Wick and Atomic Blonde.
Worse still, some of the fight scenes, particularly the ones with Cable and Deadpool, come off as lazy and boring.
Whereas there’s an emotional resonance that connects fans of the MCU with the stories of its heroes, these missteps create a feeling of emptiness that permeates Deadpool 2 that no amount of jokes or self-reverential humour can make up for.
It’s not a total wash, though.
Some of the jokes — particularly a scene where Deadpool rhymes off his favourite comic book appearances of a certain surprise villain — are amusing. Ditto an opening credits sequence that is accompanied by Celine Dion’s Ashes and riffs on the Bond films.
The film also makes up plenty of ground with an excellent post-credits scene that — despite me not liking this instalment — makes me optimistic for what a part three could look like.
Deadpool 2 opens Friday, May 18.