Josh Brolin is having one heck of a summer, isn’t he? First he stood toe-to-toe with the Avengers as Thanos and now here he is as the fan-favorite character Cable, giving Deadpool a run for his money (unless they’re friends, of course. One can never tell with these two.). Deadpool 2 has been highly anticipated since Deadpool hit it big back in 2016. Audiences went crazy for that film and the movie grossed far more money than anyone anticipated, making this follow-up a simple formality. For this go-’round, original director Tim Miller has bowed out and been replaced by David Leitch, which doesn’t upset me since he directed one of my favorite films of 2017. But how did he handle everyone’s favorite Merc with a Mouth?
In the film, Deadpool encounters a young mutant by the name of Russell (Julian Dennison, from one of the best films that almost none of you have seen, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) being hunted by Cable, a cybernetic mercenary from the future. Cable claims that Russell will be responsible for something horrific, later in his life, and Cable has come to kill Russell and prevent those events from ever transpiring. To help stop Cable and save Russell, Deadpool assembles a team of wannabe-heroes, including Domino (Zazie Beetz, “Atlanta”), Bedlam (Terry Crews, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” – the show no one ever talked or cared about until it appeared to be canceled), and the Internet’s favorite: trailer standout Peter (Rob Delaney, “Catastrophe”), and christens the team as X-Force.
I’m going to stop there describing the events – and even the characters – in the film because Deadpool 2 is chock full of fun surprises. Whether they be in the form of cameos, storyline developments, or one-liners, there is a lot that the viewer won’t see coming (assuming they didn’t search such things out and ruin it for themselves due to their complete lack of patience and respect for how the filmmakers desire to deliver their own film). I never knew what was coming and very much appreciated that in this day and age.
I also appreciated the much-improved story structure and characterization when compared to the original film. 2016’s Deadpool was unquestionably enjoyable but it seemed that every time that film started gaining momentum, it was stopped in its tracks by the decidedly unenjoyable flashback origin sequences. In this sequel, the tone is consistent, even when allowing for more serious events to unfold amidst the expected zaniness that comes as part of the Deadpool package.
Also significantly improved is Deadpool, himself. In the previous film, Deadpool was a riot, but wasn’t the Deadpool from the comics. Those who aren’t as familiar with the comics and only know Deadpool from Internet memes, or some such, were convinced otherwise, unable to recognize anything beyond the overall irreverence of his presentation. But the subtleties in his character were way off mark (which I detailed at length here). But that has all been fixed in Deadpool 2. From a personality standpoint, this is the Deadpool I’ve been reading for so many years. And, even if it wasn’t, now that he’s lacking the self-awareness that he had in the original film, he is much more likable and endearing, making it an improvement not because it’s closer to the source material, but because it better serves the protagonist and his connection to the audience.
Not all sat well with me, though. I thought the majority of the humor was either only mildly amusing or fell completely flat. Don’t misinterpret (or misquote) me; there are funny parts in the film. In fact, there are a couple that are both hilarious and memorable. But, much like the first film, the adult language is forced, only present to justify the unnecessary R-rating and often attempting to serve as the sole source of a laugh. That might have worked to an extent in the first film but that was due to the novelty of a Marvel Comics character using such language (even though, again, he doesn’t do so in the comics any more than a dozen other characters do). But with this sequel, that novelty has worn off. Maybe the guy two rows in front of me is so easily amused by adult language that he guffaws at every use of the f-word, but I require more wit and surprise in my humor and, by the sound of it, so did most everyone else at my Thursday-night screening. And much of the comedy was derivative of not only the first Deadpool film but other films, as well, even lifting an entire bit from Shrek the Third, if you can believe that. This was the preview night screening crowd, folks. They/we are the ones most likely to enjoy whatever is thrown at them/us. And the laughs were not exactly dominating the entire viewing of the film. They should have asked Gerry Duggan – the best Deadpool writer in history – for some assistance. That guy knows how to make Deadpool funny.
And then there’s the biggest issue with the film: the mid-credit scenes (there is no post-credits scene, so feel free to leave after the second mid-credits scene). It’s going to be difficult to convey this because I’m not about to spoil any aspect of it for anyone who has yet to see the movie, but all I’ve heard is how these are “the best mid/post-credits scenes ever” and I couldn’t disagree more. I understand why people are saying that with their gut reactions: the scenes are funny. And, yes, I agree with that. They are funny. But they also so severely undercut the dramatic events of the film that I couldn’t believe a professional filmmaker working for a major motion picture studio would even consider including them or that the studio would acquiesce. They are the most important mid- or post-credits scenes I can immediately recall. The film’s narrative is not complete without them. But I absolutely loathe their contribution to the story and they leave me wondering if this franchise has any genuine aspirations to be anything other than a kooky alternative to other blockbuster fare, without worrying about containing any real substance of which to speak.
Overall, Deadpool 2 is an enjoyable couple of hours. The action is thrilling and exceptionally choreographed. The cast of characters is varied and colorful (if lacking much depth) and Deadpool, himself, is more thoughtfully developed than in his first film. The structure and pacing is a vast improvement over the original; the film never drags and I thought the two hours flew by. But the humor lacks much in the way of cleverness and the mid-credits scenes left such a bad taste in my mouth that I had to see Infinity War for the fourth time in an attempt to wash it out – and it still lingers. Without those scenes, I’d be feeling much better about the film, even with the lazy comedy in tact. Perhaps the scenes won’t bother you as much, despite the weight that they hold. I hope that’s the case and that you can also enjoy the fun and surprises that Deadpool 2 otherwise holds.
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