“Deadpool 2,” released May 18, claims to be a family movie, despite leading with a murder — no different than movies like “The Lion King” or “Bambi,” according to the title character.
But based on its R rating and crude jokes, it’s safe to say “Deadpool 2” doesn’t qualify.
“Deadpool 2” is bigger, wilder and funnier than its original — but unfortunately, the sequel sacrifices plot lines and valuable screen-time for supporting characters.
Directed by David Leitch of “Atomic Blonde” fame, “Deadpool 2” is a two-hour-long rollercoaster ride filled with a myriad of pop culture references, all kinds of meta jokes, plenty of action and a surprising amount of genuine emotion. Just like its 2016 predecessor, “Deadpool 2” takes the superhero genre and flips it on its head.
The film follows wisecracking mutant Wade Wilson, portrayed by Ryan Reynolds, after the murder of his fiancee Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin, while he struggles with finding his place and being a hero. Wade miserably fails a mission as an X-Men trainee and leads both himself and young mutant Russell, played by Julian Dennison, into a power-restraining prison.
At the same time, future mercenary Cable, played by Josh Brolin, mourns the loss of his wife and daughter and goes back in time to kill their eventual murderer, which lands him at the same prison as a depressed Wade and his target — Russell. In the ensuing destruction, Wade defends the boy and makes it out of the prison. He then makes it his mission to prevent Cable from killing Russell by assembling a team of his own — the X-Force.
“Deadpool 2” sets up a shaky, albeit striking, parallel between its two lead characters. Both are motivated by the loss of loved ones, and their dynamic against each other is engaging to watch, with both as well-realized anti-heroes who have compelling reasons for their actions.
The budget for this film was higher than the first, at $110 million as compared to the first film’s meager $58 million, and the difference shows in the production. There is much more clear use of clean CGI, notably with Cable, from his metal arm to a futuristic hologram he utilizes throughout the movie. In addition, the action scenes are gratuitous and shot dynamically, with nothing ever seeming boring or unnecessary. The film captures attention from start to finish.
Surprisingly enough, where “Deadpool 2” shines is the diversity and strength of its characters, despite the lack of secondary-character screen time. One of the real highlights of the film is in the reveal that Negasonic Teenage Warhead is in a lesbian relationship with the pink-haired mutant Yukio, marking the first openly LGBTQ+ relationship portrayed in a Marvel film.
Sadly, a character named Domino and Cable are the only characters that really have enough time on screen alongside Deadpool, with the rest of the supporting cast only getting small slivers of the scattered plot. But these characters made the most of what little time they had. The theater erupted into cheers when Colossus, Negasonic and Yukio arrived on scene to help Deadpool during the third act.
“Deadpool 2” pokes fun at both Marvel and DC superhero films, including the most recent Avengers movie and the infamous “Batman v Superman” Martha moment. But the many other pop culture references alongside the comic book ones cannot distract from the fact that the plot is out of focus compared to the original film. Deadpool himself even seems to be aware of that, calling out the “lazy writing” as it happens.
Nevertheless, even though “Deadpool 2” will likely not find itself nominated for Best Picture anytime soon, it proves to be as good as the original — and in some places, actually exceeds the first. Despite its flaws, “Deadpool 2” is a highly energetic and enjoyable ride from start to finish.