Deadpool 2 : Film Review
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, TJ Miller, Morena Baccarin
Director: David Leitch
Deadpool is back after scabrously smashing box office records for R-rated superhero films with his 2016 debut outing - and it's no spoiler to say it continues the laissez-faire attitude, opening with Deadpool's severed arm flying out of the screen, middle finger firmly pointed in the air and heading towards the viewer.
In this sequel, which is actually at times, a more mature yet immature piece, Ryan Reynolds' scarred hero is looking at starting a family with his beau, Vanessa (Baccarin).
However, his plans are irrevocably changed when he's pulled into a side mission to save fire-flinging mutant Russell Collins (Hunt For The Wilderpeople's Julian Dennison, stepping up into the big league) from a time-travelling Terminator type, Cable (Brolin, this film's MVP in the back stretch, despite his initially monosyllabic ways).
Once again ramping up the irreverence and meta-touches, Deadpool 2 has no desire to conform to the norm, despite at its heart, being a film about family, in all its many dysfunctional ways.
Atomic Blonde and John Wick director Leitch packs in some truly solid action pieces, that pop and sparkle with slow-mo and frenetic moments aplenty, but yet which are so carefully choreographed that they don't fly by in a blur, but impress with their pace and dazzle.
However, it's still sadly fair to say that, in among the relentless Easter eggs and references, Deadpool's superhero world is still depressingly a boys' club (occasionally an unashamedly puerile one at that), and even the introduction of Beetz's Domino, with her own scenes to shine, seems initially more cursory than a full-on commitment the likes of which were offered to Negasonic Teenage Warhead in the first.
Thankfully, Beetz seizes with veritable aplomb the moments afforded her, and her central part in one action sequence more than capably demonstrates that women more than deserve their time to shine in these superhero films. It's a large case of women being used as narrative devices, rather than standalone characters that disappoints greatly here.
Horrendously sidelined or blatantly tossed aside, the portrayal of women in this film is a continuing worry - for a film that snubs conventions and that could use the meta to its advantage, it's extraordinarily tame at coming forward when it truly counts.
And yet, for all of its messed up family vibe and the manic intensity being ramped up in comparison to the first, and for reasons which are too spoilery to delve into, Deadpool 2 very occasionally nearly gets lost in some of the heart that's on show.
Granted, for every moment that comes close to sentiment, there's Reynolds' Wade cocking a snook to the audience; but unlike others of its ilk, where the flippancy overrules what few stakes there are, this actually works in Deadpool's favour.
Reynolds delivers an on-point performance, relishing every moment to shine, and allowing every snark and meta-touch to settle. As the film initially takes a little time to get going, Reynolds is saddled with a lot of the exposition, but as the messed-up narrative finally settles on a course for something of a bullseye, he more than delivers as his character doubles down on what made the first a R-rated hit.
Equally, New Zealand's Julian Dennison plays it more straight than you'd expect as Russell Collins. Essentially a warped mutant riff on and extension of Hunt for the Wilderpeople's passed-around-care Ricky Baker, Dennison shoulders a lot more of the dramatic, sidelining the comedy for something with a great degree of empathy and pathos in parts, for what little time he has (given he's more a cypher than a central character). Brolin's Cable is a welcome presence too, with the straight man to Reynolds' quipping Merc-with-a-mouth.
While Deadpool 2 hits a bit of a lull in the final run, with quips starting to grate, and a feeling of repetition starting to overwhelm (certainly the post-credits sequences will leave you both laughing and scratching your head as you analyse the implications / relevance for what's happened over the past 2 hours), it's simply a film that fires on all cylinders and delivers what you'd expect - especially if you loved the first.
Once again, the Merc with a Mouth is a vehicle for the irreverence and the flippant, a blockbuster that offers puerile easy relief to an overly and increasingly pompous genre.
But be aware, it's not an entirely clear case that a third helping should deliver yet more of the same - and with its portrayal of females still something to be mastered, and a feeling of deja vu hitting the end, it's obvious that in future, this franchise may need to put its money where its continually smart mouth is.