Movie Review: Deadpool 2
Just three weeks prior to the long-awaited “Deadpool 2” release, we saw our friendly neighborhood hero Spider-Man in shimmering red spandex swinging from thread to thread overhead–as advertised by the catchy cadence of his theme song. His webs propelled him against and around the titan villain Thanos, protecting us from world domination in the sprawling epic that meshed all the cinematic universe’s elements in “Avengers Infinity War”– or “the most ambitious crossover event in cinematic history”.
While the protagonist in Marvel’s latest, “Deadpool 2”, may sport red spandex, he certainly is not your friendly neighborhood hero. He is here to save the day, and ultimately the world (since, if the stakes aren’t the world these days, audiences world wide won’t go see it).
Unlike the dashing Spiderman with a moral compass, Deadpool has earned the nickname the “merc with a mouth” for his ability to spew out witty and equally offensive remarks in every which direction. This includes making comments in the direction of the audience in fourth-wall breaks that also tear down the walls on rhetorical manner. Many of these jokes land with an encore of delightful laughs, while others painfully sting and leave us aching.
This wouldn’t be a problem if the audience could heal similarly to the film’s immortal hero, who ironically never dies. But you can’t blame some jokes for not hitting there mark. After all, they are fired at us as fast as the cyborg Cable’s bullets, which even our ‘too savvy for his own good’ hero can’t slice with his swords, and are ultimately too “derivative” for the merc to land with his words, and to quote Deadpool here, “well that’s just lazy writing”.
Rarely does this relentless comic-book extravaganza feel lazy, even if the extravaganza itself is a mask for what is essentially a stand-up comedy sketch and an occasion to display the writers’ (Rhette Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds) wit and their liberal pop culture intellect. Which, for all its brilliant one liners still inextricably leads the film down the road of cross purposes. The movie is a crossroads between the lighthearted self-referential bliss of its predecessor and a dark heartbreaking revenge tale. It eventually just decides to play it safe and meet in an uneven median that has one hand on its heart and one on its crotch.
And heart is one of the many things this sequel has going for it, which also happens to be in the right place, which may seem like an odd way to describe a movie that is so delinquently crass, staging quips on everything from religion to rape. The character Deadpool may service as the metamorphosis with meta references that Ryan Reynolds needed to take on the role of action star (“Green Lantern” notwithstanding) but, underneath the mask and scorched cheek-bones is a role model. In a film where time flies, the B-theory of time hardly serves as an obstacle for the time traveling villain Cable (it is no coincidence that Josh Brolin also played Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War), who is after the tubby and equally dynamic teenage mutant “gangster” named Russell (Julian Dennis), who harnesses the power of a cold stare and a hot hand that suppresses fire and the capriciousness of teenage angst.
One must note that Julian Dennis essentially played the same role in the lovely and touching Hunt for the Wilderpeople, where he too was an adolescent would-be-gangster, whose stark actions were no more than a product of rough upbringing. He “didn’t choose the skux life, the skux life chose him”, yet he still, like he is here, finds himself being hunted. Which brings me to Deadpool, the apotheosis of cinemas exemplars, who remains the only one who will give the kid a chance. So what if he is all out of love? – as the band Air Supply suggests within the score. He at least isn’t out of jokes and benevolence.
Russell and Cable are seemingly too much for Deadpool alone to tackle, even if he has been working nine to five. So, he teams up again with a few familiar faces from the movies predecessor who are apart of the X-Men (where he still wears the title of trainee), while also forming his own super-team named the X-Force — though all the X-jokes soon become a little exhausting.
The old group of irrefragable heroes he meets at the X-mansion, include the tin man with a heart, Colossus, who is cued in for the grand city destroying CGI clashes. And there is the lioness first ever queer super hero to grace the silver screen, the rebellious Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who comes with plenty of courage and a pink haired teary eyed anime inspired girlfriend. The new group of momentary squalid warriors include Domino, whose superpower is luck, and audiences will sure to be searching for a four leaf clover for this empowered and delightful female lead to get her own spin-off. In addition, there’s Bedlam, Shatterstar, Zeitgiest, Vanisher (if he ever was really there), and Peter, whose buffoonery manages to never peter out.
The film’s greatest superpower is its seditious and transcendent ability to laugh at itself and its audience, while all the while have us laugh with it, not at it. The result ultimately takes the form of a cheery, fresh and monotonously funny action comedy that commits to banality, while all the while spicing up the Cineplex with its originality.
Though it is overlong and over the top, and the films skeptics may overlook David Leitche’s “Deadpool 2” for falling into sequel syndrome, where all of the best lines and ideas are rehashed, I see it as a success for being just that.
It may not propel the medium as did the first, but it’s content with remaining campy in the snide cultural wit that will make the immature roar at the profanity, and the mature and intellectual giggle at the astute wordplay and relatable references that range from John Hughes to Charlie Chaplin and from Lebron James to Lionel Messi. That isn’t to say the sequel is anywhere near perfect.
Sure the celebrity cameos are overtly amusing, but the cameos of emotional sentiment here, seem as distraught and uneven as the pictures pacing. The first movie felt like a breath of fresh air, a bliss and vivacious adventure into a world where nothing was taken personally and it never dared to take itself seriously. Here it preaches the same sermon, but Leitch doesn’t always let there be light. His creation of Deadpool revels in sin and good-will equally.
Where the jokes are as funny as they are lofty, he doesn’t build his protagonist a foundation on solid ground. Nonetheless, as Wade Wilson (Deadpool) put it when describing another blockbuster series: “it lives up to the hype” but “stop at 2, ya killed it!”
Side Note: If you’re a fan of the Deadpool’s recurring flippant quarrel with Wolverine and the superior film Logan from last year, you may want to stay for the festive after-credit scene.