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Friday, May 18, 2018

Deadpool 2

As a sequel, Deadpool 2 is not interested in advancing the plot or the characters from the 2016 original.  It's entire purpose is to give the audience more of what worked the first time around.  If that's all you want, you will likely enjoy this film.  Or, if you're like me, you'll find it a lot of fun for the most part, but it also starts to wear on you a little past the halfway mark.

Here's Ryan Reynolds back once again as the red-suited mercenary who frequently breaks the fourth wall in order to address the audience (at one point, he stops a scene in order to discuss the domestic gross of his last movie), or make numerous pop culture references.  The references this time around range from Barbara Streisand in Yentl, to 80s mainstays like The Goonies and Say Anything, and naturally, we get to hear his thoughts on both the Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes up to this point.  He's as foul-mouthed as ever, and the tone of the film once again resembles a Mad Magazine take on the Marvel Film formula.  Not much has changed for our hero, and despite a new director at the helm (David Leitch, of John Wick and Atomic Blonde), the movie looks and feels the same, except maybe a bigger budget which allows for some larger action set pieces.

For the most part, it works.  It was probably smart not to stir the pot too much and shake things up.  After all, these movies are not about the plot or character development, they're largely an excuse to laugh at some raunchy jokes at the expense of comic book movies in general, and the X-Men franchise in particular. (In one of the film's best gags, we get to find out why Xavier's Mansion is so empty whenever Deadpool drops by.) The jokes are hit and miss, as is to be expected, but you always admire the movie for trying.  The cast clearly loves making these movies, and while I don't know if there is enough fuel in this franchise for the approach to work a third time, you feel like the cast would be ready to show up at work again tomorrow if it meant working together again.  The energy of the cast prevents Deadpool 2 from feeling like too much of a retread. 

As the film opens, we find Deadpool's true identity, Wade Wilson, in a suicidal slump after Wolverine was killed off at the end of last year's Logan, as well as some other recent events that have hit him hard.  However, he is brought back into action when a soldier from the future named Cable (Josh Brolin, the Marvel Movie Heavy Du Jour) travels back in time in order to assassinate a young boy with mutant powers (Julian Dennison) that will supposedly bring about an apocalyptic event unless he is stopped before his powers can grow to their fullest.  To combat the threat, Deadpool must form his own superhero team, which he dubs X-Force, but mostly partners up with a mutant named Domino (Zazie Beets), whose superpower is built around luck, and is definitely the stand out of the new characters introduced in this film.  No offense to Brolin, who does a fine job, but Beets not only holds her own against Reynolds' motor mouth comic routine, but gets to kick a lot of ass during the action sequences as well.

There are celebrity cameos (one of them is literally a blink and you'll miss it moment) and in-jokes a plenty.  There also seems to be a much stronger emphasis on big action set pieces this time around, which while well-staged, do get a bit tiresome and probably could have been trimmed back. (This is a longer film than the last one, and it feels like it while you're watching it.) What saves the action from being too overwhelming and prevents the audience from completely zoning out over the 9th or 10th car being flipped over are the intentionally odd soundtrack choices that are used to score these scenes.  Hearing Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" chime in while Deadpool slaughters a room full of thugs, or "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow" from the musical Annie playing over a scene of mass destruction at least gives the movie a bit of distinction over the usual blockbuster fare. 

It's all in good fun, but like I said, it can be a bit much.  Due to the longer running time, Deadpool 2 does come dangerously close to being a joke stretched too thin, especially during the last half hour.  However, just when you think the movie is starting to be washed up, it will come along with a big laugh that puts you in a better mood.  Trust me, this is one time you don't want to leave when the end credits start, risk of missing some of the best jokes in the film.  Fortunately, they come early enough in the end credits, so you don't have to sit all the way through. (There's nothing after the very end.) I realize that this is a long-winded way of saying that the movie is uneven but ultimately it works, but hey, the movie can be pretty long-winded too.

Deadpool 2 is almost certain to be a massive hit over the coming weeks, but I'm kind of hoping that the studio leaves it here.  Of course, that's not how Hollywood works, so I'm sure we'll be seeing Reynolds donning the costume again soon.  If the deal Disney is making with Fox currently goes through, I'm sure we'll be seeing even more of him.  Regardless, you pretty much already know if you will like this movie or not based on your feelings toward the last one.

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