I was not a fan of the first “Deadpool” movie nor am I fond of the Marvel character on which it’s based, but damn you, Ryan Reynolds: you’ve made this sequel a slam dunk. I contend that only a true fan can successfully make a movie that pleases other diehards, and Reynolds and team reach new heights of violence, comedy, and general bedlam in “Deadpool 2.” It’s that rare follow-up that is actually better than the original.
As is the case with most blockbuster films, it’s best not to know anything about the plot before discovering the movie for yourself. You can confidently read this review as I will be as vague as possible in order to avoid all spoilers.
This is a comic book movie for the comic-literate crowd. At no point does the film dumb it down for mainstream audiences: for maximum enjoyment you’ll need to have a more advanced working knowledge of the superhero world. If you are a hardcore enthusiast (and in particular an X-Men junkie), you’re not only going to delight in the catalog of obscure references, but you’re going to want to see this movie several times to catch every single one of the often hilarious Easter eggs. I left the theater still giddy from what proved to be a ride of nearly nonstop belly laughs.
I didn’t think it was possible but this sequel is funnier than the original. The rapid fire pop culture nods are back with a vengeance but instead of coming across as more aggravating than amusing, they serve an actual purpose (and even when they don’t, they’re still funny as hell). Lively verbal banter, slapstick sight gags, hilarious opening titles…in spite of myself, the very things that irritated me about the original movie worked for me here. Get ready for put-downs of superheroes (of the Marvel and DC variety) and comic references both classic and modern (going all the way back to the vintage books of the 1960s to an up-to-the-minute “Avengers: Infinity War” one-liner).
The considerable magic that happens is mostly due to Reynolds and his unique brand of sarcastic snark. It was a risk for the studio to release 2016’s R-rated “Deadpool” with its super violent, foul-mouthed lead character, but the film was such a runaway hit that it forever changed the face of superhero movies. I think its success has also given its star a newfound confidence and a bolder swagger which fits the character like a glove. Reynolds looks and feels so terrifically comfortable onscreen and while he is clearly the film’s true MVP, his supporting cast also brings their A game. Josh Brolin (Cable) proves he’s a force to be reckoned with when it comes to rough and tumble outlaw characters and while Julian Dennison (Russell) isn’t given nearly enough to do, he’s a sheer delight whenever he appears onscreen. Don’t blink, because there are also some surprise cameos that had me internally hooting with excitement.
Not everything comes up roses, however. There are a few too many overlong fight scenes that become increasingly tiring as they drag on and on, and the visual effects are a little corny looking (at least the film’s overkill bloody violence works in its favor). But even when the story begins to fall into clichéd comic book movie convention territory, Deadpool breaks the 4th wall to directly warn the audience that there’s a “big CGI fight coming up” or to explain away plot holes with a winking “god, that’s lazy writing.”
“Deadpool 2” is smarter, funnier, and more violent than its predecessor and combines all the ingredients in a way that’s sure to delight fans. You really have to appreciate this movie for what it is and if you go with an open mind, you will enjoy the ride.
Make sure you stay put after the final scene: you’ll be treated to what’s easily one of the best mid-credit stingers ever.