When I saw “Logan” (James Mangold) last year, I compared it to the first “Deadpool” (Tim Miller) film, stating that Wolverine’s gut-wrenching journey is the dramatic counterpart to Wade Wilson’s ultra-violent comedy within in the Marvel franchise. After all, “Deadpool” was a big deal as an R-rated film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it only made sense that it have a less comedic equivalent. “Deadpool 2,” directed by David Leitch, therefore begins with a nod to “Logan” before trying to prove itself just as emotional…yet still maintain the hilarious “hijinks” of its predecessor. It succeeds for the most part…
“Deadpool 2” is perhaps more self-aware than the first film, because it knows exactly when it’s being released. Hot on the heels of “Infinity War” and a year after “Logan,” plus among all of the divisive DC Comics films, this is a movie with a brain. There is no desire to pull punches, from Deadpool’s (Ryan Reynolds) opening rant about tragedy in “Logan” to his reference of the CGI-fueled fight between Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and another Marvel heavyweight. Regarding that remark, the movie certainly has the Marvel seal of approval (there are loads of CGI as expected), but it’s allowed to play with it. We can laugh at the conscious cliches, especially considering we will experience them again and again; just look at the climactic Wakanda battle in “Infinity War.”
Another element that pleasantly surprised me: the idea of “building a team.” How many contemporary movies (especially sequels) begin with that tired plot device? We all know it’s typically a cheap way to introduce new characters, and “Deadpool 2” definitely begins that way. However, without giving too much away, the movie subverts that idea in only the shameless way that Deadpool can get away with easily. Instead of being a premise we’ve grown tired of, it becomes a spark for imaginative action. The team’s first mission is arguably the best sequence of the movie.
Plus, this introduces the crucial theme of dysfunctional families, and “Deadpool 2” nails it. Deadpool tries to alienate himself from the MCU, but also expresses a desire to be included sometimes. He is the black sheep of the family, so it makes perfect sense in the context of this film that he finally try to put together his own band of misfits; a family that supports one another in ridiculous ways.
Among unexpected cameos, we have Ryan Reynolds at the center of “Deadpool 2,” and he knocks it out of the park once again. Though his witticisms are most likely voice acting since he’s in his suit for a majority of the film, it doesn’t make him less convincing as the 4th wall breaker extraordinaire. Josh Brolin compliments Reynolds quite well as Cable, the film’s primary villain; it makes us wonder if Brolin is a great villain in something else as well…(Deadpool does refer to him as Thanos at one point for laughs). Perhaps my only concern in an overall great cast is Julian Dennison – a child actor (currently 15 years old) who plays mutant Firefist. Firefist has a temper to fit his name, and Dennison plays the part of annoying brat almost a little too well. His character is fleshed out well enough, but Dennison might be better off if he doesn’t embrace this innocent-but-really-diabolical caricature. It gets boring very quickly.
Stylistically, for “Deadpool 2” to work entirely, the cinematic atmosphere needs to correlate with the raunchy and wacky story. And although plenty of the film is typical Marvel fare, much of the action feels more engaging than even some of the most important sequences of “Infinity War.” Even the cheeky slow-motion scenes have substance to encompass both humor and technical mastery without being overdone. The visuals make you laugh as much as the dialogue.