'Deadpool 2': The (X-)Force Is Strong with This One

(film poster / IMDB)

The blasphemous, unyielding Deadpool 2 doesn't outdo its predecessor, but rather gives more of a good thing.

Deadpool 2
David Leitch

Twentieth Centruy Fox

18 May 2018 (US) 15 May 2018 (UK)


Deadpool 2 shouldn't work, but it does. There are so many things working against this movie that it's not even funny. And yet, it is. You know... funny.

The title character -- a sort of oddball outsider from the Marvel comics universe whose defining characteristic is that he's aware that he's in a comic book and breaks the fourth wall so often he puts Zack Morris, Ferris Bueller, and Bugs Bunny to shame -- graduated to the big screen in 2016's Deadpool, a wildly entertaining action-comedy that saw a live wire Ryan Reynolds don the iconic(ish), red and black spandex. While the film technically took place in the same universe as the long-running X-Men movies, it was less of an expansion of the franchise than a perverse subversion of the superhero genre as a whole. It was irreverent, unpredictable, and hilariously obscene.

But now, the novelty of the character has all but worn off. Watching Deadpool (aka Wade Wilson) rattle off one-liners as he dismembered ten baddies at once was a thrill in the first movie and a much-needed, R-rated change of pace for those of us who were suffering from a serious case of superhero fatigue at the time. But when Reynolds addresses the camera to open Deadpool 2, it doesn't catch you off guard or feel provocative in the slightest. It just feels... normal.

You'll see nothing in Deadpool 2 that's as groundbreaking (in superhero-genre terms) as what you saw in its predecessor. But all that means is that the movie has to find success beyond its gimmicks. And somehow, it does. Director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) and writers Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds don't reinvent the wheel here -- they stick to the same formula as the first movie, and the results are... similar. Deadpool 2 is about as funny and action-packed and entertaining as Deadpool was, which is good news for fans, and bad news for entitled fanboys who demand every sequel be some kind of cinematic revelation, or risk being forever branded as "Worst. Movie. Ever."

The story opens with Wade yet again hitting rock bottom, blowing himself to bits by flicking a cigarette into one of four barrels of gasoline he's sprawled himself out on as if vacationing in Cancun, reintroducing us to his primary superpower, which is that he can't be killed, even at his own hands. We're also reacquainted with the franchise's sardonic sense of humor, with Deadpool posing and prancing his way through his version of a James Bond intro sequence (soundtracked, inexplicably, by Celine Dion) and dropping "F" and "S" bombs throughout his derisive references to other superhero movies and larger pop culture, like some sort of shit-talking Johnny Appleseed.

No film franchise is safe from Deadpool's irreverent wrath -- from The Avengers, to Basic Instinct, to Frozen, to Yentl (for goodness sake), the writers hold nothing back and leave no curve in the pop culture bubble untainted. This movie aims to clown on everyone and everything, and it doesn't let up from beginning to end.

The less-than-compelling narrative starts in earnest when Deadpool's frenemy/man crush and official X-Man Colossus (a CG hunk of metal voiced by Stefan Kapicic) recruits the murderous motormouth as an "X-Man in training" to knock him out of his stupor and get his life back on track, but when Wade turns a de-escalation mission into a bloodbath, he's disowned by the X-Men and sent away to a mutant prison with the target of his bungled mission, Russell (Julian Dennison), an angsty teenager who can shoot fireballs out of his hands. (Perfect combination, right?)

Ryan Reynolds and Julian Dennison (IMDB)

When a killing machine from the future with a "Winter Soldier arm" named Cable (Josh Brolin) shows up to kill young Russell for reasons unknown to anybody who hasn't read lots of comic books or seen the movie Looper, Wade, nudged on by a voice beyond the grave, makes protecting the kid from the the time-hopping bad guy his new life's mission. He puts together his own team of anti-heroes, called "X-Force", and sets off on a mission to get to the rotund, rebellious Russell before Cable does.

As was the case with Deadpool, the issue with Deadpool 2 is that it's constantly mocking and highlighting the fraudulence of the genre to which it belongs. What this means is that, during moments when the movie takes a dramatic tone and isn't making fun of itself (of which there are surprisingly plenty), it's hard to tell whether we should be laughing at or simply be receptive to whatever emotion the scene is trying to project. This is tonally confusing and completely distracting at times, and dampens both the comedic and dramatic elements of the movie simultaneously.

That being said, the film is never not engaging, and most of the time, it's an absolute blast. There are moments of side-splitting debauchery (one, involving Wade's partially re-grown lower body, is as hysterical as it is deranged) at every turn, and while the action sequences are as chatty and quippy as you would expect, they're very exciting and legitimately cool-looking by any measure.

But the real jewel of Deadpool 2 is, once again, Reynolds, whose sly, frantic delivery is the coal that keeps this crazy train zooming down the tracks. You can tell that he's been having the time of his life playing this character, and the enthusiasm is infectious. His energy is reminiscent of a '90s Jim Carrey, though he's never as grating and is actually often quite smooth and charming despite the filth flying from his masked mouth. Without Reynolds, I'm not sure this franchise would have ever seen the light of day, let alone put out a sequel that lives up to the original's reputation.







A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.


The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.


Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.


Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.


HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.


Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.


Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.


'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.


'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.


Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.


DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.


JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.


​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.


Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times


Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.


How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.


Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.


Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.