Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Zazie Beetz, Josh Brolin, Brianna Hildebrand. Director: David Leitch
Following in the footsteps of its first film and the massive success that it had, there seems very little way that Deadpool 2 could live up to audience expectations. By and large, it manages to, and then some, because the creative team behind the film clearly know the material and love it deeply – it shows.
This time around, a personal tragedy has lead Deadpool to form a team of mutants to help him stop a time-travelling mutant called Cable from killing a child with anger issues.
From the off, the film shows it is bigger and better in every way, starting with our hero deriding Logan as being a ripoff stealing his schtick, to madcap action sequences and fourth wall breaking aplenty.
There’s an oddly emotional centre to the film that is a little confusing and jarring at times, as there seems to be no sign of mocking the fairly standard motivations, which is sort of the bread and butter of a Deadpool film. Even so, David Leitch who has a John Wick and Atomic Blonde under his belt knows how to stage an action sequence with a cartoony flair, which helps when the budget seems a little stretched at times.
For all the stunt work and fun quips, there is an element of a film with a budget smaller than its ideas. Once again the idea of a totally CGI Colossus is an issue, and an even bigger CGI character creates more problems when they want to do big showdowns and street chases.
There’s also an element of jarring between the film’s promises and what it delivers – there’s a lot of time dedicated to fairly decent actors joining only to be dispatched, which sort of feels like a waste of their potentially fun role. Similarly, slimy villain Eddie Marsan is given very little to do.
Even so, the film has a heart at its core, and Ryan Reynolds is so secure in his role as Deadpool that at no point does it seem to slip or become something it shouldn’t. He nails the OTT character of the ‘merc with a mouth’, and is a talented enough actor that when the emotional elements come into play he can do those too. Similarly, Brianna Hildebrand’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead is given a little more to do, a little more edge, and it’s great to see an out and proud LGBT superhero.
The new additions to the film are also solid, Julian Dennison – so great as Ricky Baker in Hunt for the Wilderpeople – plays central enigma Russell Collins / Firefist with both emotion and danger. He’s a classic staple of the X-Men movie franchise, the lost mutant child looking for a mentor. It’s a pity the film isn’t as lucid as to make the connection but the burgeoning relationship between DP and Russell is similar to that of Logan and Rogue, Logan and Laura, Charles and Hank, Erik and Mystique. It’s also an endearing take, with Russell’s motivations being just as interesting the story as DP’s.
Zazie Beetz is also perfect in her role as Domino, a mutant with the gift of luck, her heterochromatic eyes and smirks off camera make for a character that is sure to become a series staple as she quips, and kicks ass like the best of them. There’s little reference made to the fact that the white-skinned character from the comic has had her race changed, because it doesn’t matter – the film has the energy of a film that couldn’t give less of a damn that it’s doing something radical when it has someone who is enjoying their role.
Josh Brolin, still in cinemas from his turn as Thanos, is great as Cable; he nails the gruff monstrous antagonist without turning him into a villain. The character interacting with Deadpool reminds you of the relationship between Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones that made the first Men in Black so enjoyable – of course, Brolin does a dead-on Jones impression, so this makes sense.
There is a little bit of gripe with the more crowd-pleasing moments, as a lot of joke reprisals from the first film do seem a little laboured and forced when it comes to the things that people liked best. The underuse of returning players Morena Baccarin, Leslie Uggams and T.J. Miller also causes something of a void in the film’s heart, but even so, the anarchic nature of the film has the feel of something that has more jokes and sight gags than one viewing will ever be able to achieve, and it doesn’t feel the need to be anything that expands the series beyond being the second Deadpool film.
In fact, better than that, the film almost stands alone as Logan did last year, and offers a chance for the X-Men movie series to be its own entity. This might be the wake up call Fox needs. Leave Marvel Studios out of this and just do your own mutant universe, after all The New Mutants could be another extension and if it’s anything like as good as DP vol 1 & 2 and Logan, it could a movie of the year.