For the longest time it looked as if the sequel to biggest R-rated movie of all time (behind Jesus) was going to be called The Untitled Deadpool Sequel. Eventually, it was branded Deadpool 2. Thank god they didn’t add a corny subtitle. At the time of its release in 2016, The Merc with a Mouth (ahem, that’s Deadpool) was a welcomed reprieve to what we’ve come to expect in superhero movies. Audacious and snarky, its spewed vulgarities gave the middle finger to DC Comics’ brooding universe and also showed no favoritism to Marvel’s stable of heroes, particularly Mr. Muttonchops, Wolverine.
Deadpool was such a surprise hit that replay value was a must, if only to catch missed jokes and other Easter eggs. Audiences remember Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson – at last redeemed for the comic colostomy bag known as Green Lantern – but the story was inconsequential. It was a love story in as much as Die Hard was about a separated couple making amends at Christmastime. Here the sequel pounds viewers with jokes plenty, dealing them out so fast and so hard like a blackjack dealer hopped up on speed; it’s easy to miss a pop culture reference (apparently I’m not up on my SpongeBob SquarePants characters). The comedy is a credit to Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, along with star Reynolds, whose alter ego is far from blue-chipper hero material. He’s a rogue – a foul-mouthed rouge. And we love him for it.
Deadpool 2 was all but assured based on the original’s opening weekend performance, which happened Valentine’s Day weekend (oh-la-la). Capturing lightning in a bottle is a risky venture, but when the Brinks truck backs up and dumps cash at his feet, Ryan Reynolds made like Scrooge McDuck and went swimming. Fortunately, the sequel is not a money pit. Yes, it ups the ante by going bigger in terms of action and spectacle. The story may be thinner than Thin Mints, but it maintains the humor and energy and it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
While I will say the added demands of this sequel prove difficult in meeting already established expectations, I actually enjoyed Deadpool 2 more, even if it does try too hard.
Out with the old and in with the new. Reynolds and Tim Miller had an impasse that saw the director depart over creative differences, so David Leitch takes the helm. Seems like a novel fit; Leitch’s action eye to match Reynolds’s wit. But Leitch’s direction lacks the energy he showed with both Keanu Reeves (John Wick) as the vengeful dog’s best friend and Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde) who downs vodka like James Bond does martinis.
The biggest addition is John Brolin as Cable. Playing his second comic-book character of the summer, this time he doesn’t have the gravitas that he had as Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. What he does have is a cocksure grin and heavy arsenal; a futuristic soldier hell bent on preventing a cataclysm. Picture the Terminator if he were a scar-faced Eagle Scout.
As for our star antihero, he still can’t get over Wolverine trying to one-up him by taking a big dirt nap at the end of Logan. Well two can play that game. When the Merc sees a part of his life snatched away he tries to end it all with some Pop Tarts, a lit cigarette, and barrels of test fuel. Instead of being buried on top of old man Logan, he segues into a James Bond opening theme, highlighted by Canada’s national treasure Celine Dion. After ashes and strewn limbs, the story gets going as Deadpool looks to protect an amateur arsonist (Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s Julian Dennison) from Cable. Joining the Merc on this self-deprecating journey are the returning Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand); cabdriver and aspiring contract killer Dopinder (Karan Soni); Blind Al (Leslie Uggams); and the lovely Morena Baccarin as Vanessa.
Breaking fourth walls and meta references are plentiful, and beyond the cameos (including a certain Oscar-nominated A-lister) the best surprise is Zazie Beetz as Domino. She joins Deadpool’s derivative X-Men ensemble called X-Force. Her special ability is luck, to which Deadpool disagrees is a credible skill set. Yet when the deck is stacked and odds insurmountable, Domino finds a way. Beetz is so cool in how she carries herself and how she plays against Reynolds that I sense a bigger brother-sister rapport in the forthcoming X-Force movie from Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods).
Jokes, check. Action, check. Soundtrack – turn up the volume! James Gunn proved with Guardians of the Galaxy that a fun catalog soundtrack can make everything better. Deadpool 2 advertising made LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” a jestful anthem with its lyric “Don’t call it a comeback.” Even better is our red-clad hero putting in the hours (ahem, killing and maiming) to Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” and trying to rouse Colossus out of bed by standing below his window with the help of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.”
Deadpool 2 is a fun time at the movies but it does drag with jokes that don’t quite stick. I don’t think there needs to be another standalone adventure with the Merc with the Mouth. If the Disney-Fox merger does get approved, allow Reynolds to infiltrate the Marvel Cinematic Universe and take over for Stan Lee when it comes to cameos. If and when that day arrives, just know that in the final credits of Deadpool 2 Ryan Reynolds has the last laugh giving us the best tacked-on sequence that betters anything Marvel Studios has done.
Game. Set. Deadpool.
Director: David Leitch
Writer(s): Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds
Notable Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, Julian Dennison, Stefan Kapicic, Brianna Hildebrand, Karan Soni, Leslie Uggams, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Terry Crews
Travis Leamons is one of the Inside Pulse Originals and currently holds the position of Managing Editor at Inside Pulse Movies. He's told that the position is his until he's dead or if "The Boss" can find somebody better. I expect the best and I give the best. Here's the beer. Here's the entertainment. Now have fun. That's an order!