A SEQUEL THAT REACHES A SATISFYING
EFFORT (NOT A MAXIMUM ONE)
In 2016, audience moviegoers were introduced to raunchy, darkly humor of the Marvel’s “merc with a mouth” comic book character in the movie Deadpool. Directed by Tim Miller, the movie, which starred Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, and Ed Skrein, follows the story of Wade Wilson, a mercenary, who develops cancer and undergoes a risky procedure that renders him deformed but granted with healing abilities; succumbing to the idea of getting even with the individual who made him this way. Despite the R-rating the movie received (a bit uncommon for a superhero movie of late), Deadpool was deemed a success, with many praising the violent and dark humor from its comic book source material as well as Reynolds portrayal of Wade Wilson. Given the success of the film, which raked in roughly $780 million at the worldwide box office (against its measly $58 million production budget), the movie was big hit and it was an almost forgone conclusion that a Deadpool sequel would be green-lit sometime after. Now, two years later, a follow-up sequel has finally materialized as 20th Century Fox and director David Leitch present the film Deadpool 2. Does this second installment keep in tone and presentation of how the first movie was or does its high expectations falter to what many are expecting in this sequel?
Accepting his identity, Wade Wilson / Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) spends most of his days fighting bad guys and living life in his own twisted superhero vigilante lifestyle, while also getting spend time with his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), who is ready to have a child with Wade. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes Wade, dealing a hard blow to his personal life, finding the “merc with the mouth” as a X-Men trainee in its wake, with Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand). However, when Wade come across a young wayward mutant named Russell Collins (Julian Dennison), who calls himself Firefist, Wade is forced to make a tough choice that takes his new life in a different direction. To make matter worse for Wade, the time-traveling mutant Cable (Josh Brolin) arrives in the present with the sole mission to killing Russell. In order to protect Russell, Wade, with the help of Weasel (T.J. Miller) and Dopinder (Karan Soni), assembles a team of his own heroes, including Domino (Zazie Beetz), Bedlam (Terry Crews), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgard), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), and Peter (Rob Delaney). Together, they form the group known as X-Force, embarking on their mission to save Russell from Cable. However, Wade and his group soon finds out that there’s more to tale than meets the eye as it’s unclear if Deadpool will ultimately be able to save the young Firefist.
THE GOOD/ THE BAD
many, I was pretty pumped and curious to see Deadpool when if first came out. I personally never read the comic books, but I knew enough (via “word of mouth” and just simply knowing about the character from superhero aficionados) to identify how the character of Deadpool was suppose to act and portrayed. Given the nature of superhero movies of late, it was going to be a challenge to make the Deadpool film into a true iteration of the comic book material, finding a violent R-rated hard to pull off. Thankfully, the movie remained faithful to its R-rated source material, with Deadpool to be a great film that both was hilarious and entertaining at the same time. Personally, while there were some minor quibbles of the movie, I found Deadpool to be a fun and humorous superhero feature. Of course, big credit to that was the fact that actor Ryan Reynolds in his portrayal of Wade Wilson / Deadpool, especially after the dismal representation of the character in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Additionally, the movie also proved that an R-rated Marvel superhero movie could be done and generally accepted by both critics and moviegoers alike, which helped pave the way for the much beloved film Logan in 2017. Given the amount of success that Deadpool had, it was almost a forgone conclusion that a sequel would appear in the horizon.
This, of course, brings me to the present in talking about Deadpool 2, the much-anticipated sequel to the 2016 Deadpool film. many out there, I was totally looking forward to seeing a sequel to Deadpool (especially with Ryan Reynolds returning to the role) and hearing a lot of internet buzz surrounding this film’s development. The movie did release a few trailers throughout its marketing campaign (with most of them being “teaser trailers” for the film). It wasn’t until a few months before the movie that we (the viewers) actually got a full theatrical trailer, showcasing the film’s actual plot and a ton of footage from all the various characters. Of course, the big question on my mine (and I’m sure it was everyone’s mind) was…. could Deadpool 2 surpass the first film (something that most sequel films can’t do)? So, I did see the movie on its opening night, but I just kept on delaying writing my review for this movie…. until now. So, what did I think of it? Well, Deadpool 2 doubles down on what made the first great, but also lacks a more compounded and focuses narrative. In short, it was good, but not as great as the first film was.
Director Tim Miller, who directed the first Deadpool film, was originally slated to return to direct this sequel, but left the project due to “creative differences”. Thus, director David Leitch, whose previous directorial works includes movies like John Wick and Atomic Blonde, was hired to fill the director’s chair for the feature. Interestingly, despite being a sort of “fresh” and “new” director to craft a sequel from a very much well-received film from both fans and critics, Leitch seems very adept in replicating the same tone and style that Miller was able to cultivate in the first Deadpool movie. To be honest, Leitch sort of “doubles down” on what made the first film interesting and hilarious, but tries to play those certain aspects. This move is both a good and bad thing (a sort of double-edge sword tactic, but more on the below). Suffice to say that, if you laughed and enjoyed the first Deadpool movie, you’ll do the same again with Letich’s Deadpool 2. However, Leitch does influence his own filmmaking aspects into the movie, with a lot of the movie’s actions sequences, which given his background in working on John Wick and Atomic Blonde, helps add a somewhat new spice of flavor for the Deadpool movie franchise. Additionally, the movie does add a new more dramatic elements in storytelling within the film’s narrative. This, of course, is added by the film’s script, which was penned by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds, which compliments the film’s humorous bits, narrative story, and dramatic big-screen superhero action. Also, much like the first film, I must state that Deadpool 2 is R-rated and for good reason, with a lot of cussing, violent fights, very crass jokes, and sexual content that may be inappropriate for younger viewers out there. So, yes…. I know that the character of Deadpool has become quite popular in recent years and has gained quite a following with newer generations, but I’m just stating this for those cautious parents / viewers out there. Thus, despite being a superhero movie, Deadpool 2 is not kid-friendly.
On a technical filmmaking level, Deadpool 2 is a solid endeavor of a superhero movie. While the entire film is filled with one-line zingers, crude / crass humor, and R-rated violence, the film itself is spot on its merits in filmmaking. Naturally, the film’s cinematography by Jonathan Sela is great in the movie, adding that extra layer of “cinematics” that make some scenes, especially a lot of the fighting sequences, with plenty of sleek camera angles and lightning effects. Other noteworthy “behind the scenes” members include production designs by David Scheunemann, the team behind the film’s art direction, and the trio of film editors, in editing this feature with a few nifty splices between several scenes. Lastly, the film’s musical score by Tyler Bates is pretty good, having the big blockbuster grandiose in various parts as well as some soft tender melodies of which are called upon to add dramatic levity in several scenes. A side-note, musical artist sensation Celine Dion does provide an amusing James Bond-esque song during the film’s opening credits titled “Ashes”.
Deadpool 2, despite its R-rated violence and hilarious moments, does stumble in certain areas that it can’t overcome, which makes the film fall behind and can’t overtake its predecessor. Perhaps the main reason for this is the fact the movie’s narrative is quite unfocused. The first Deadpool, while leaning heavily towards the superhero origin story formula, it was still able to tell an entertaining (yet small scale) narrative for the feature to play around with. Deadpool 2, however, seems a bit more haphazard. Yes, it’s cohesive and works (within the film’s context), but it just seemed a bit unfocused and seems like it has a hard time to proceed forward. Of course, the character of Deadpool is the main character of the feature, but it seems like Leitch (and the trio of screenplay writers) have are hard time in striking a balance between his story arc and the other storyline arcs (most notable Cable and Russell / FIrefist). Speaking of Cable, the future that the time-traveling character comes from is a bit ambiguous. Much like a lot of time-traveling scenarios (with The Terminator franchise being the most notable one), the future is bleak and riddled with problems. However, Deadpool 2, while stating that fact, doesn’t really “show” much of that future beyond a very brief scene of Cable ruined apartment. Thus, the movie does the “tell us, don’t show us” routine. I guess this was because of the film’s budget restrictions, but still…. it would’ve been beneficial (and to be honest quite cinematically interesting) to see Cable’s future. Again, it’s kind of like a missed opportunity.
There’s also the fact that the common plot theme / message in the movie is a bit confusing. While the commonplace theme of “people’s ability to change” has been a proven storytelling foundation (heck, even the first Deadpool movie utilized that narrative arc a bit), but its confusing as to who are we suppose to love / hate in this movie. Additionally, to Leitch me at least, I felt that the movie was a bit lackluster in certain areas. There’s seem great parts of which I do like, but I felt that the Deadpool 2 could’ve been better (as a whole). It’s hard to say (without completely spoiling the movie), but I was expecting a bit more. The end result is a mixture of good elements that many will find enjoyable, but Deadpool 2 just lacks the certain focus of a tightly woven narrative.
Another reason for this is the fact that the movie sort of “doubles down” on the positives and negatives made in the first film. This tactic is kind of like a “double edge sword” as a lot of the positive remarks (the humor, the violence, etc.) are in full effect (and work), but all the negative remarks return and are in full effective in the feature as well. This makes Deadpool 2 a bit a conventional parody that a lot of sequels try to emulate. Yes, I do understand that the character of Deadpool is suppose to be more self-aware and poke fun at stuff, but I think that Leitch didn’t really strive to make the movie more creative and unique and instead chooses to please fans out there. Whether or not that is a good thing or bad ultimately depends on the viewer. To me, it was okay, but some of the references and comical parodies just didn’t seem to work (and are bit outdated) and the story, while good, could’ve been better. There’s a lot at stake in the movie, but Leitch and the film’s writers don’t seem to keep the film’s stakes low and conventional, which ultimately makes the movie predictable. Again, maybe I was just expecting a bit more….
The cast in Deadpool 2 makes for a strong impression. Its main characters are more serviceable and give great performances to the film’s proceedings, while the supporting ones (while solid in their acting) are mostly filler and in the background. Even still, most are enjoyable in their respective roles. Naturally, literally leading this movie (in almost all fronts) is actor Ryan Reynolds, who returns to his reprise everyone’s favorite “merc with a mouth” character of Wade Wilson / Deadpool. Reynolds, known for his roles in, continues to be the “beating” heart of these movies, playing the character of Deadpool (bravado, swagger, and pretty much everything else). Very much like the first movie, Deadpool 2 is a vehicle of Reynolds to ride around, cracking jokes at superheroes, comments on society, and other pop-culture references. To that effect, Reynolds succeeds yet again in making Wade / Deadpool a very fun and hilarious anti-superhero, especially with Reynold’s ability to spew one-liners quite frequently and in rapid-fire succession. In conjunction with that, Reynolds does handle himself well in the more “serious” moments of the film, which (again) makes him the more “beaten heart” of the Deadpool movies. Personally (like many believe out there), Reynolds is (and will forever be) the definitive cinematic iteration of Wade Wilson / Deadpool.
Behind Reynold’s Wade / Deadpool, the character of Cable, a time-traveling character from the future, who is played by actor Josh Brolin. Known for his roles in Avengers: Infinity War, Sicario: Day of the Soldado, and Only the Brave, Brolin is a great at playing the more serious “straight man” (i.e. straight-laced) no-nonsense character like Cable. To be quite honest, he really does act as a great foil for Reynold’s carefree goofy Deadpool, with a juxtaposition of Brolin’s gruff and more serious bravado. While the whole backstory of Cable is pretty conventional for the sci-fi time-traveling trope, the character (in the end) stands out due to Brolin’s performance and is definitely one of the more memorable performances in the movie (behind Reynold’s Deadpool). I personally hope to see Brolin playing the character again sometime soon (if I possible future installment is green-lit).
Another surprise hit in the movie is the appearance of the character Domino, who is played by actress Zazie Beetz. Of course, he appearance in the movie was one of the more controversial pre-release topics on the internet (personally for some stupid reasons mind you), but her actually involvement in the movie is quite fun and something I liked. Beetz, known for her roles in Geostorm, Atlanta, and Easy, is surprise hit in the film, being quite the scene-stealer in the latter half of the feature. The downside to her character is the fact that she arrives very much late in Deadpool’s 2 narrative. Because of this, her character is underdeveloped in her given characteristics. Still, Beetz’s Domino is a fun tagalong character for Reynold’s Deadpool to play off of. Hopefully, she’ll get more screen time if a sequel (or possibly a X-Force movie) gets greenlit. Of the last new major characters to be introduced in the movie is the character of Russell Collins (aka Firefist), who is played by actor Julian Dennison. Known for his roles in Paper Planes, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and Chronesthesia, Dennison, while not having a strong of a screen presence impact like Reynolds or Brolin, does have a strong influence on the film’s narrative. To me, the character is slightly annoying in the beginning of the movie (most likely due to how they wanted the character to be and not so much on Dennison’s part), but he did grow on me as the film progressed. However, of the new major characters (Brolin’s Cable, Beetz’s Domino, and Dennison’s Russell), Dennison’s Russell / Firefist is the weakest one.
Several of the characters from the first Deadpool also make their returning in this sequel endeavor, but are more focused in the background (adding a continuity aspect) for the movie rather than being prominent supporting players as they were in the first film. This is mostly recognizable with actress Morena Baccarin (Gotham and Homeland) as Wade’s girlfriend Vanesa. While her character was very much a driven force in the first movie (both in character development for Wade and in screen-time spotlight), her character isn’t much in Deadpool 2, which is mostly due to how her character was written in the movie’s narrative. Yes, she still is a driving force for Wade in the movie (and Baccarin’s acting talents are fine in the role), but she’s more in the backdrop setting. This same can be said with Deadpool’s other two X-Men characters (i.e. Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead), with actor Stefan Kapicic (Better Call Saul and Larin Izbor) and actress Brianna Hildebrand (Tragedy Girls and The Exorcist) respectfully returning to their posts. Both are fine in their return (loved them in the first movie), but are (more or less) bookend the feature’s story and (again) are more small supporting roles than the first Deadpool. The rest of the returning cast, including actor TJ Miller (Office Christmas Party and Silicone Valley) as Wade’s bartender friend Weasel, actor Karan Soni (Office Christmas Party and Safety Not Guaranteed) as Deadpool’s wacky cab driver Dopinder, actress Leslie Uggams (Empire and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) as Blind Al all do fine jobs and continue to be quite amusing / funny in their respective roles. In a nutshell, the returning Deadpool characters are fun to see on the big-screen again…. I just wish that they were all were a bit more in the Deadpool 2.
Rounding out the cast are more minor supporting roles (most of which are part of Deadpool’s X Force team). This includes actor Jack Kesy (Baywatch and 12 Strong) as Black Tom Cassidy, actor Eddie Marsan (Snow White and the Huntsman and 21 Grams) as the Headmaster (the somewhat main antagonist for Russell), actress Shioli Kutsuna (The Outsider and Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV) as Negasonic’s lover Yukio, actor Terry Crews (The Expendables and Brooklyn Nine-Nine) as Bedlam, actor Lewis Tan (Iron Fist and Den of Thieves) as Shatterstar, actor Bill Skarsgard (Atomic Blonde and IT) as Zeitgeist, and actor Rob Delaney (Catastrophe and Coma, Period) as the normal (yet very humorous) member of Deadpool’s X-Force team….named Peter.
As a final note, be sure to stick around for a hilarious mid-credits scene. I won’t spoil it for you guys, but I have to say that I laughed a ton during this fun Easter egg.
Everyone’s favorite “merc with a mouth” returns for his superhero sequel in the movie Deadpool 2. Director David Leitch’s latest film sees the second installment of this big-screen adaptation return with all the pomp and crass and violence that proceeded beforehand; doubling down on all the things that made the film fun, great, and different from the conventional take on the current superhero genre. While the movie does lack a certain focus and other certain elements don’t work as they did in the first film, Deadpool 2 ultimately works as a crowd pleaser for many fans / moviegoers, weaving in its own superhero nuances, self-aware jokes and gags, and finding more dramatic emotional heart than the first feature. Personally, I thought this was somewhere between good and great. Yes, I didn’t think that movie surpassed the first one and I did have a few problems with it, but I still overall enjoyed it; laughing from beginning to end and felt mostly satisfied in what I saw in the finished product. Thus, I would probably give this movie my “recommended” stamp of approval, especially those who found the first film uproariously humorous and found its R-rated violence to their liking. Given the fact on how the movie ends, will we see a Deadpool 3 in the future or maybe a X-Force superhero team up? For now, Deadpool 2 is still a solid (yet not as maximum effort potential as it wants to be) fun sequel movie that continues to rub its R-rated nose in the face of modern superhero features. Its not perfect, but neither is the character of Wade Wilson / Deadpool and (to that effect) the film mostly succeeds.
3.9 Out of 5 (Recommended)
Released On: May 18th, 2018
Reviewed On: August 19th, 2018
Deadpool 2 is 119 minutes long and is rated R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual references, and brief drug usage