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Deadpool 2 Review: A Comic Book Movie Sequel With Maximum Effort

Deadpool 2 is far more ambitious than the first film, elevating the action, humor and overall scope for an even more fun experience in the sequel.

Deadpool 2 is the sequel to 20th Century Fox's first R-rated X-Men film, 2016's Deadpool. The initial film notoriously languished in development hell for over a decade before finally hitting theaters. With a script by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, Tim Miller directing, and Ryan Reynolds returning to the role of Wade Wilson after the character's much maligned introduction in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Deadpool was not only a hit with fans and critics alike, it became Fox's highest grossing X-Men film. In the larger scale of comic book films, it also opened the door for more mainstream superheroes to receive R-rated outings, paving the way for the likes of Logan. Now, Wade Wilson returns for another solo outing. Deadpool 2 is far more ambitious than the first film, elevating the action, humor and overall scope for an even more fun experience in the sequel.

While Deadpool may have ultimately been a love story - thanks to the through line of Wade Wilson and Vanessa Carlysle's (Morena Baccarin) relationship - Deadpool 2 is a movie about family. The sequel sees Wade forced to deal with a personal tragedy. In the wake of this tragedy, he joins the X-Men as a trainee, studying under the tutelage of Colossus (Stefan Kapičić), with help from Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and her girlfriend Yukio (Shiori Kutsuna). However, when Wade comes across a young mutant by the name of Russell Collins (Julian Dennison) - who calls himself Firefist - Wade is forced to make a tough choice that takes his life in a different direction.

To make matters worse, the time-traveling mutant Cable (Josh Brolin) arrives in the present with the sole mission of destroying Russell. In order to protect Russell, Wade, with the help of Weasel (T.J. Miller) and Dopinder (Karan Soni), assembles a team of his own. Domino (Zazie Beetz), Bedlam (Terry Crews), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgård), and the non-mutant Peter (Rob Delaney) answer Wade’s LinkedIn ad. Together, they form X-Force and embark on a mission to save Russell from Cable. However, even with a team of his own backing him up, it's unclear if Wade will ultimately be able to save young Firefist.

Related: Deadpool 2 Reveals Cut Post-Credits Scene

Like Deadpool before it, Deadpool 2 has a strong emotional foundation rooted in a universal theme. Instead of romantic love, though, the sequel focuses on family, especially found family - meaning a family of choice, rather than blood relation. Screenwriters Reese and Wernick returned for Deadpool 2, penning the script with the help of Reynolds. Together, the three were able to craft a narrative that builds successfully off what worked in the first film, while additionally maintaining the unique voice of the Merc with a Mouth. There's plenty of Wade's signature humor, fourth wall-breaking quips, and meta references to everything from fellow X-Men universe movies to Marvel Studios' franchise and Warner Bros' DC Films Universe. And, though some of these jokes were featured in trailers for Deadpool 2, it isn't a case of giving away all the best punchlines in the marketing. Deadpool 2 saved a great deal of jokes and sight gags for the film itself.

In addition to maintaining Deadpool's humor, the sequel also works to balance the jokes with fantastic action sequences and compelling drama. This balance ultimately elevates Deadpool 2, creating a more complete movie experience, all while delivering on what fans expect from a Deadpool sequel. While Miller brought Deadpool to the big screen for the first time, Deadpool 2 director David Leitch brings a sense of style to the sequel's action sequences that make them more visually interesting - and may make them worth catching in IMAX. Leitch has worked with stylistic properties in the past, co-directing John Wick with Chad Stahelski and helming Atomic Blonde, and that experience shows in Deadpool 2. But, of course, none of Deadpool's signature brutality is lost in the sequel. In fact, the followup may be even more violent than the first film, which should please fans of the comic book character, and it certainly helps the film earn its R rating.

If Deadpool 2 flounders at all, it's in the poor execution of a clichéd (and sexist) comic book hero trope in the film's first act. Because it arrives so early on in Deadpool 2, it will undoubtedly leave some viewers unable to rejoin the sequel's narrative. Perhaps the only redeeming aspect of this story choice is that one of the movie's credits scenes builds off of it in an interesting way. Even still, it's too little too late for the narrative choice to be completely redeemed. While some may be won back by the offbeat charm of Deadpool 2 as the film moves forward with its fast-paced action and irreverent humor, the laziness of this early story beat is glaring. Especially in a franchise that has openly acknowledged and laughed at its own lazy storytelling before, it's a disservice to the titular character's world to fall into a cliché and not even make a joke about the preexisting trope.

As for the leading cast of Deadpool 2, Reynolds slips easily back into the role of Wade Wilson and truly flourishes as the full-fledged Merc with a Mouth. Still, though he's the heart of the sequel, Brolin and Beetz make particularly standout turns as Cable and Domino, respectively. Both are highly anticipated additions to the franchise, and Deadpool 2 takes care to introduce them in a manner that will entertain both comic book devotees and casual fans of the movie universe alike. Brolin's Cable works as an excellent straight man to Reynolds' wacky Deadpool, providing for some great interpersonal drama and hilarious jokes. Beetz' Domino, meanwhile, is somewhat less developed, but no less a scene-stealer, especially with her unique and surprisingly cinematic abilities. The three characters play off each other well and will undoubtedly serve as a strong foundation for Fox's X-Force movie spinoff.

All in all, Deadpool 2 showcases everything a Deadpool movie could be, with fantastic action, uproarious humor, and just enough drama to balance everything out. In fact, Deadpool 2 is so much more a complete vision of a Deadpool movie that the first film retroactively feels somewhat lesser in comparison, like a proof of concept experiment (with little confidence behind it) or extended test footage reel. No doubt that is the result of Fox not having confidence in the first Deadpool movie, with its runaway success leading to the sequel receiving a much larger budget and allowing its creatives to be more ambitious. Ultimately, it pays off with a Deadpool sequel that is bigger and better than the first film. It honors everything that worked in the original Deadpool, while delivering a more fun and complete movie experience in Deadpool 2 that will win over even those that weren't wholly impressed by the first film.

Trailer

Deadpool 2 is now playing in U.S. theaters nationwide. It runs 119 minutes and is rated R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual references and brief drug material.

Want to talk about Deadpool 2 without spoiling the sequel for others? Head on over to our Deadpool 2 spoilers discussion.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5 (Excellent)
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Deadpool 2 Review: A Comic Book Movie Sequel With Maximum Effort