Deadpool 2 Review
Almost a year on from the first marketing appeared for Deadpool 2 the sequel finally sees the light of day as it attempts to follow on from the surprise success of the first film. The good news for some is that little has changed from the first time round: the Merc still has a mouth and the jokes are just as dirty. The bad news is the obnoxious fanboy won’t shut up and the joke is no longer funny.
The reason the first Deadpool film worked so well was because it surprisingly offered something new to the superhero genre, poking fun at itself, other universes and anything else with a pulse. Which is exactly what we get in the second film, except much more of it, showering scene after scene with a never-ending stream of meta pop culture references as Wade winks at every single member of the audience in every cinema at every showing. It’s as one note as they come, except when it wants to take itself seriously, but we’ll get to that later.
This time round Deadpool is trying to overcome a personal tragedy that sees him skirt around the idea of joining the X-Men. But Deadpool being Deadpool means this doesn’t last for long and he ends up in an even bigger mess trying to save troubled mutant kid Russell (Julian Dennison – who most people will recognise from Hunt for the Wilderpeople).
Meanwhile, Cable (Josh Brolin) is travelling back from the future determined to hunt out and kill Russell (of course, we get a Terminator joke – although one that doesn’t make sense). Deadpool decides to try and protect the kid and puts together his own team of superheroes - which includes Zazie Beetz's (who has shone throughout her time on Donald Glover's Atlanta) Domino whose main ability appears to be luck – to face off against Cable.
When a joke isn’t being delivered it manages to fit in some action scenes which are mostly serviceable and do little to spark the imagination. Cable has a big gun with a dial and a protective shield, Deadpool gets shot, stabbed and dismembered and Russell can shoot fire from his hands. The focus is centred far more on establishing a flow of humour (well, more of a flood) rather than memorable set-pieces which is a shame as the first film’s stripped down approach made far more of Wade’s athleticism and was all the more enjoyable for it.
One of the biggest problems the writing team have created for themselves is a complete lack of empathy with the character. Absolutely everything is up for a laugh which is fine if the humour continually lands from start to finish. So when we are asked to take pity on Wade you constantly expect the scene to be turned on its head into another gag. But it doesn't happen. It genuinely wants us to feel for a guy who has spent the best part of two films laughing at everyone else. So it falls into the same false emotional trap the script has been poking fun at, feeling as empty and saccharine as the cheesy 80s references that are constantly turned into jokes.
Cable gets similar treatment, although Brolin plays him with a deadly serious straight face, so while his backstory is slim and trite, it at least doesn’t feel as hypocritical. Wade’s Indian cab-driving friend Dopinder returns but in light of the recent Apu stereotyping controversy it will be interesting to see how connected the audience are to the way Karan Soni’s character is portrayed. The likelihood is it will get a free pass, which says more about the disparity between the moral outrage displayed on social media compared to the real world than anything else.
Ryan Reynolds recently commented that he was born to play Deadpool and there can be no denying how perfect-a-fit the two are. Most notably, Reynolds wasn’t part of the writing team the first time round and you have to wonder how effective his inclusion was for the sequel. It falls into the trap that has ruined almost every sequel from the beginning of time by believing simply loading up on more of the same will be enough. Except it isn't, because the surprise element has gone and the joke has started to wear off.