WHAT IT'S ABOUT:The Merc With a Mouth is back as Deadpool assembles a team of misfit superheroes (and, of course, a moustachioed Everyman named Peter) to try and stop Cable, a grimly driven time-traveller from the future, from killing a young mutant.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
The best and worst thing you could say about Deadpool 2 is that is just more of the same. If you've seen the first film you know largely what to expect. The sequel does have some nice, often darkly comedic plot twists to it and a number of new characters thrown into the already hyper world of Wade Wilson but, despite a change in director (Atomic Blonde's David Leith takes over from Tim Miller), the same old writers and the same old main cast are back to deliver more of what worked (and some of what didn't work) about the first film.
Familiarity doesn't exactly breed contempt here but it does make Deadpool 2 just that little bit less fresh, less special and, yes, less good than the first film. The first Deadpool film was a real surprise, even for those of us familiar with the character's comic book exploits, which is obviously something that largely can't be replicated in the sequel. It certainly throws some surprise twists into its actual story, to be sure, but this is otherwise exactly the same sort of self-aware, highly irreverent, pop-culture literate and surprisingly sweet-natured R-rated superhero comedy that we got in the first one.
Still, even if it lacks the relative originality and inventiveness of its predecessor, Deadpool 2 is hardly a Kick Ass 2 – the drop in quality from the first film may be even less than the drop from the first to second Guardians of the Galaxy films, in fact. It even has an advantage or two over the first film in that it doesn't need to spend time setting up what was ultimately a fairly rote superhero origin for the main character and can instead get straight to Deadpool being Deadpool. It also boasts the typical benefit that comes with all successful sequel films in that the character work and relationships set up in the first film pay off further in its followup.
Some of the weaknesses of the first film do spill into Deadpool 2, though. Once again the story, which is in and of itself perfectly fine, still feels fairly arbitrary against everything else going on. With Deadpool so busy breaking the fourth wall, narrating his own story, cracking wise and quite violently killing baddies – to say nothing of the more character-driven, heartfelt bits that are still, thankfully, alive and well here – the actual plot always feels like an afterthought.
And, once again, though the film is far better at switching between different tones than it has any right to be (it really is every bit as sweet and heartfelt as it is violent and blackly funny), it still has some major pacing issues throughout. That two-hour running time is shorter than most superhero films these days and if it were any longer it may well have worn out its welcome, but the film does feel, paradoxically, slightly rushed as a result.
These are all, though, fairly small problems that ultimately won't actually do much to affect your enjoyment of the film. Frankly, if you buy into Deadpool's schtick, you're all but guaranteed to enjoy Deadpool 2. If you don't, the above issues will be the least of your problems. It's still violent. It's still silly. It still throws out more pop-culture references per minute than Family Guy. And it's still weirdly sentimental. If you dig this sort of thing, you'll dig this. If you don't, you won't. It kind of is as simple as that.
This is not to say, though, that this is simply a rehash of the original. The new additions to the cast, for a start, are all pretty great - with the fantastically-named Zazie Beets a particular standout as fellow Rob Liefeld creation, Domino. And, yes, Liefeld – who co-created Deadpool for better writers and artists to do better work with - gets a funny, self-effacing shout out in the film, along with a few other comic book references that are clearly there for die-hard comic book fans alone.
Most importantly, Deadpool 2 justifies its existence by once again getting the very most out of Ryan Reynolds – who also co-wrote and produced the film - as the title character, by continuing to take him in new and often very funny directions. Deadpool, for all of his overexposure in the comics, continues to be Reynolds' definitive role and an endlessly entertaining and sympathetic screen presence. He may not need seventeen different spin-off comic book titles but I, for one, am more than down for, at the very least, one more screen outing of our fourth-wall-breaking anti-hero.