Wednesday 16 May 2018

Film Review: Deadpool 2

Marvel's Merc with a Mouth is back in business, and this time he brought some friends along for the ride.

Hey, did you like 2016's Deadpool? If so, you're in luck! Because the sequel, Deadpool 2, is essentially more of the same, only bigger, bloodier and nastier. It's also better, which isn't saying much given that the first wore thin pretty quick.

Two years after defeating Ajax and reuniting with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is enjoying relative domestic bliss while still kicking ass and taking names as Deadpool on the side. This idyllic scene is soon shattered and Wade must join forces with friends both old – Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) – and new – Domino (Zazie Beetz), Bedlam (Terry Crews) and Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgard) – to prevent a time-travelling solider called Cable (Josh Brolin) from killing young tearaway mutant Russell (Julian Dennison).

When it comes to laughs, the gags in Deadpool 2 flow thick and fast. Screenwriters Rhett Reese, Ryan Reynolds and Paul Wernick adopt a 'fling shit at the wall and see what will stick' approach that keeps things broad and ensures not every joke will land for everyone but that everyone will enjoy one occasionally. This also means that some jokes feel timely – gags at the expense of Jared Kushner, Thanos and the DCEU are particularly good – while others already feel outdated. Why is there an extended crack aimed at dubstep? Are we still in 2011? The needle drops are equally as varied, with the soundtrack flaunting everything from AC/DC, Dolly Parton and a-ha to Skrillex, DMX and DJ Shadow.

With director David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde) at the helm, the action in Deadpool 2 is tight, well-choreographed and violent. All manner of limbs, heads and guts are spilled and the set pieces feel torn from the splash pages of Deadpool's colourful comics. One sequence that follows a prison break/car chase is terrific stuff that builds and builds to a brilliant crescendo.

With the origin guff already in the past, Deadpool 2 is able to hit the ground running. Even though it's pulled directly from Terminator 2, the plot of Deadpool 2 isn't as generic as the first movie. The greater stakes and the larger ensemble ensures that the plot is rarely sitting still or treading water. That said, the inciting incident that sets the wheels turning is predictable and lazy as hell. We've seen it so many times before and I expected more from a series that bills itself as something that flies in the face of convention.

This is a complaint that can be levelled at much of Deadpool 2 in fact. For every subversion is an equally egregious adherence to formula that underlines just how conventional this film actually is. This mostly comes whenever the film does away with the silliness and tries to be serious – can you really mock Batman v Superman for being dark and depressing while mirroring it in the same scene or sentence? Sure, every film has to have emotional moments and stakes, but I just didn't buy into them. Deadpool 2 works best when it's going full tilt with the silliness and zany antics. Said antics peak in a brilliant second act; everything else is tonally muddled and simply not as good.

Brolin, Beetz and Dennison routinely steal the show from Reynolds, who spends a surprising amount of time not sporting Deadpool's trademark red suit. His second Marvel movie in as many months, Brolin is pitch perfect as grizzled half-robot half-man Cable while Beetz more than earns herself a solo adventure as Domino, brightening every scene with a dose of carefree fun.

The Verdict: 7/10

A fun middle third with some killer humour is hamstrung by a clunky first act and the same tonal issues as the first film. The cast are great but the plot leaves some great characters behind while delivering a frenetic action adventure with more guns, guts and gags than you can shake a chargrilled teddy bear at.

Deadpool 2 is in cinemas across Australia now.

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