It’s almost unimaginable that the creators of Deadpool 2 could amass an even larger collection of vulgarity, debauchery, and ultra-violence than 2016’s Deadpool. And yet, like that last tantalizing slice of pizza drowning in a puddle of its own grease, Ryan Reynolds’ abomination finds new ways to tempt you into taking another ill-advised bite.
Deadpool 2 is simply glorious. Not a moment passes in which something terrible isn’t happening on the screen. If someone isn’t stringing together obscenities that would make granny have a coronary, they’re mutilating legions of baddies in a fit of balletic violence. While the modus operandi of the original Deadpool was taking the starch out of superhero movies, this time around sees director David Leitch (credited here as “One of the guys who killed the dog of John Wick“) embracing those same formulas in his own demented way.
Ultimately, Deadpool 2 is a movie about family. We know this because Deadpool (Reynolds) tells us so. “Every good family film starts with a murder,” he reassures the audience, just as he’s about to julienne some poor bastard’s spinal cord.
Of course, Deadpool’s family epiphany flows from his unceasing pursuit of bloodthirsty vengeance. Most of the original cast is back to assist in the carnage. You have Weasel the bartender (T.J. Miller), who continues to excel at obscene descriptions and ratting out his friends. Dopinder the cab driver (Karan Soni) and Blind Al (Leslie Uggams) remain offensively broad as they interject the occasional comedic nugget. The X-Men are again represented by the CGI Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), though there are a few surprising mutant cameos along the way.
Josh Brolin as Cable (IMDB)
The two major additions to the cast fuel most of the plot. Josh Brolin stars as ‘Cable’, a one-man wrecking crew from the future with a “Winter Soldier arm”. Cable is sent back in time to murder a portly mutant teenager named Russell (Julian Dennison), who is destined to commit some particularly nasty murders. While imprisoned together in the infamous mutant detention center known as ‘The Ice Box’, Deadpool kind of (not really) takes a liking to Russell and kind of (not really) tries to help him find his way in the world (not really). There’s always a qualifier when it comes to Deadpool’s assistance. He navigates each situation with a coldblooded selfishness that makes every good deed feel accidental. It is, in fact, his defining characteristic.
There are probably more jokes in Deadpool 2 than the entirety of the Roseanne revival, and they’re actually funny. Reynolds hoards most of the good lines, but thankfully, he’s less reliant upon pop culture references this time around. Now that our characters are established and interconnected, most of the humor flows from their incessant needling of each other’s insecurities.
Admittedly, there are still too many musical references that fall flat and threaten to date the film. References to Dave Matthews and Beyonce feel dated already. It will be interesting to revisit these films in a decade, when the targets of Deadpool’s jabs have long faded into obscurity. Still, Leitch and his writers rarely take the lazy way out of a joke, contrary to the protestations of Deadpool himself, who constantly breaks the fourth wall to chastise the screenwriter’s laziness.
Anyway, it’s easy to forgive a few lame gags when confronted by the brilliance of X-Force. Not since Mystery Men has a more bizarre collection of ‘superheroes’ assembled to fight crime. The peculiarities and gifts of the X-Force recruits (as well as the actors portraying them) shall remain unspoiled by this reviewer, but let’s just say they don’t exactly have an Avengers-level skill set. Deadpool 2 turns the collecting of allies – the highlight of any superhero film not named Justice League – into an uproarious montage that crackles with juvenile brilliance.
And that juvenile brilliance rarely eases up. The pacing, both verbally and physically, is relentless. Thrilling action set pieces (overseen by the veteran stunt coordinator Leitch) build to a climactic battle that does not disappoint. Despite the crude brutality of it all, there’s also a perverse beauty to such choreographed chaos. Given Leitch’s involvement with both projects, it’s not surprising that the violence in Deadpool 2 more closely resembles the grit of John Wick than the stylized goofiness of most superhero battles.
Action scenes are fine, but the primary appeal of Deadpool 2 is that it’s mercilessly funny. Perhaps Ryan Reynolds’ hyperkinetic ‘Jim Carrey on steroids’ routine wouldn’t work without the mask, but it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing this role. His lusty desire to insult, offend, and generally shatter the limits of good taste instills this quirky universe with anarchic energy. Yes, the script could benefit from a more equitable spotlight with his co-stars, but this is Reynolds’ baby; his mutated, vulgar, anally-fixated baby.
If you enjoyed the guilty pleasures of Deadpool, it’s an immutable law of Physics that you will love Deadpool 2. The second verse may be the same as the first, but that verse is a dirty limerick of childish goodness. And this is a family film, after all.