At the outset of the first “Deadpool” movie we are promised that it is a story of love. And so it is. In similar fashion “Deadpool 2” promises us it is a story of family. And so it is… kind of.
Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick both return as writers and are joined by Ryan Reynolds (Wade Wilson/Deadpool) as well. It is David Leitch (“Atomic Blonde”) in the director’s chair this time and it is all so… mediocre.
Whether or not it claims to be about family, one gets the sense watching “Deadpool 2” that the film really has no idea what is supposed to be the focus. It is a series of set pieces and gags in desperate search of something that might unify the whole affair but finding nothing to fit the bill. Too many moments offer the sense that they are a bunch of asides that have been loosely strung together into a single work. It even utilizes the not-very-successful ploy from the first movie of starting in the middle of the story and then backtracking. It wasn’t great last time and this time it definitely makes one wonder if they were just out of ideas.
One can almost hear people in a room throwing thoughts out for the movie, “Wouldn’t it be funny if Deadpool becomes an X-Men trainee,” “Wouldn’t it be funny if Deadpool tries to start his own superhero team,” “Wouldn’t it be funny if we brought back the cabbie from the first movie for an extended appearance,” “Wouldn’t it be funny if that kid from ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ references that movie… it was great,” “Wouldn’t it be funny if we toss in a bunch of uncredited cameos.”
This reviewer’s best guess as to why Cable (Josh Brolin) appears is because it references the comics and Deadpool himself promised Cable’s appearance in the post-credits sequence for the first movie. Almost the entirety of “Deadpool 2” could work without Cable… certainly the ending of the film would be far better for the character not having shown his arm here at all.
As great as Brianna Hildebrand is as Negasonic Teenage Warhead is in the first movie, she is just as enjoyable here, but given even less screen time because of all silly tangents “Deadpool 2” wants to go on but never explore. Colossus (Stefan Kapicic provides the voice) is back as well, but his point is largely to regurgitate the ideas of what it means to be a hero that he offered in the first film.
Then, of course, there’s Deadpool himself. The man, the myth, the mouth. Reynolds is still funny as the character, but it is really difficult to get behind him for much of the movie. Is he sad about the way his life is going? Allegedly. That sadness certainly sets what there is of a plot in motion, but he’s not sad enough to avoid cheap laughs, and those laughs don’t always emanate from the dark place he’s supposed to be in. The jokes are just there because we all know Deadpool tells jokes.
This completely undercuts any emotional underpinning the character is supposed to have for the movie. It is tough to root for him when he doesn’t seemingly care about the thing it’s said he cares about.
It is also established early on that Deadpool can’t be killed. So now the audience is asked to root for a character without any true set of emotions who is invulnerable. That is a big ask and the ways the movie tries to get the audience there simply do not work.
Discussing what plot there is for the film seems like a bad choice. Is there a bad guy? Uhhh… maybe Cable? Maybe Russell (Julian Dennison)? Maybe [redacted because it’s a spoiler]? Maybe everyone? Maybe no one? There are certainly a bunch of obstacles for Deadpool, but one hesitates to call anyone the villain of the piece, although that’s just because the plot is so loosely stitched together.
Zazie Beetz as Domino is great and what we get of Morena Baccarin’s Vanessa is good, but it’s a little tough to call them fully realized characters. This reviewer loves the opening credit sequence, but that could be because of his affinities for other films. And, for a special effects heavy movie, the effects are not very good, with one CGI-based fight being particularly disappointing.
To this point this has been a pretty negative review to this point (that’s because the movie isn’t terribly good), but there are bright spots. Many of the jokes are funny (even if the emotional underpinning feels false) and some of the action sequences are very enjoyable. Deadpool breaking the fourth wall definitely still works as well.
Still, one is left with the sense that there is something obligatory about the whole affair this time. Everyone does still seem to be enjoying themselves on screen, and that does help things out, as does Deadpool’s bringing together a family of misfits, but it is just not enough.
photo credit: 20th Century Fox