Film Review | Deadpool 2

Deadpool appears to be for Ryan Reynolds what Wolverine was to Hugh Jackman – an avatar from the X-Men universe who keeps on giving; a fruitful coalescence of actor and character • 3/5 

Deadpool 2: Smart, smug fun from the merc with a mouth
Deadpool 2: Smart, smug fun from the merc with a mouth

An interesting wedge has been drawn between the colossus that is Marvel Studios and all of the properties that they own in-house, and the film studios that Marvel Comics had sold some of their properties to back in the day when they weren’t yet a colossus. And speaking of colossi, one of them appears in Deadpool 2 (as he does in Deadpool number one) -- played by Serbian actor Stefan Kapičić and super-powered and steel-plated from head to toe, he’s the gentle Russian member of the X-Men (a Marvel Comics property whose film-based offshoots still belong to 20th Century Fox) who comes to offer our ‘merc with a mouth’ Wade Wilson aka Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) a redemption arc after the love of his life, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) falls foul of the mob.

And so Deadpool, the super-powered mercenary impervious to death – much to his chagrin, more often than not – is thrown back into the fray, in this case helping the X-Men deal with a mutant problem child, Russell Collins (Julian Dennison). The Merc makes a mess of what was supposed to be a de-escalation situation at the mutant-specialised orphanage where Russell – calling himself ‘Fire Fist’ – is wreaking a fiery tantrum.

The upshot is that both Wade and Russell end up in a maximum security prison where mutants are drained of their powers thanks to a disabling necklace. All hope seems lost, with the unlikely duo predictably ending up at the very bottom of the prison food chain. But then, a rugged and pissed-off warrior from the future shows up, going by the name of Cable (Josh Brolin). Aiming his (sizeable) guns at Russell for some strange reason, Cable crash-lands into the prison, offering Wade a chance to slip out. But will this mercenary truly live up to his name and just leave the poor kid in the vindictive future soldier’s crosshairs?

Deadpool appears to be for Ryan Reynolds what Wolverine was to Hugh Jackman – an avatar from the X-Men universe who keeps on giving; a fruitful coalescence of actor and character. And indeed, though original Deadpool director Tim Miller had to cede his role to John Wick co-helmer David Leitch (ye olde ‘creative differences’), the project maintains the same flavour while amplifying things just enough. Perhaps this is down to Reynolds still having a hand in the screenplay – co-written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick – and so guaranteeing that through-line.

But as the addition of Cable signals a link to the X-Force mutant team in the comics, the film does go a little bit bigger in the action stakes, and the rewards of that risk are most thrilling. Employing the fourth-wall-breaking device that’s stock in trade for Deadpool, here the film allows itself to rip into the over-the-top 90s milieu that both Cable and Deadpool himself emerge out of; with ridiculously ‘edgy’ characters like Terry Crews’ uber-macho Bedlam and showy red-haired alien diva Shatterstar (Lewis Tan) introduced for both action chops and gag-value. But thankfully, Domino (Zazie Beetz) sticks around, and gives us someone else to root for while Wade continues making an idiot of himself and leaving a pile of dead bodies in his wake.

Dosed with more hi-octane action – or at least, with more pumped-up set pieces and higher stakes – than the original offered up with its more localised origin story for our potty-mouthed and hyper-violent title character, Deadpool 2 makes for a rip-roaring and comic booky experience that is so slavishly tethered to a ‘mother franchise’.

The same could not, of course, be said of the Avengers universe. And neither does the remaining X-Men franchise give us much hope, with troubled director Bryan Singer having reduced what’s left of it to a damp squib.

But it’s apt that Deadpool can then be left to let it all hang out – entertaining us with no strings attached

The verdict

Though the franchise has parted ways with director Tim Miller, the sequel does a great job of sustaining the jokey but dynamic vibe of the first film and taking it to another level. While the Merc with a Mouth is fully present and accounted for – with Reynolds putting in a game-as-ever performance – and the postmodern tics continue to provide giggles, it’s the upping of the action ante that really raises the stakes here. And even though this sequel attempts its own brand of universe-building, we are, thankfully, nowhere near the top-heavy world of the Avengers saga. In short: smart, smug fun is had.