I’m going to keep this review fairly spoiler-free and in brood strokes because comedies live and die on their comedy, and retelling jokes does no one any favors. Suffice to say, if you liked the first Deadpool, you’ll probably like this one. It’s a riot.
Deadpool as a character is a hard sell and an even harder execution. His humor isn’t going to jive with everyone and his reliance on breaking the fourth wall and being pointlessly crass is a shtick that can run old very fast. Basically, it takes a light touch, but Deadpool 2 isn’t a movie that operates lightly. It’s loud and in your face because it’s freaking Deadpool.
It’s strange then that it all works. Part of it is Ryan Reynolds being an absolute joy and a perfect fit for the role, but really, the movie knows its strengths and how to play into them. It’s a superhero movie with an R-rating, and that means it can do things most superhero movies cannot, like show the hero cutting someone apart with a chainsaw to jaunty music. Grenades are pulled with middle fingers, and 14-year old Russel gets punched in the face during a prison fight.
There are a few jabs at DC thrown around, and it’s poignant because movies like Suicide Squad wish they could do what Deadpool 2 does.
The key to a character like Deadpool, I think, is to pair him with more “normal” people. By himself he gets exhausting and can wear thin, but if he’s playing off of Colossus, Cable, or Russel, it all comes together. They bring the salty while he brings the sweet. Though honestly, that’s a bit misleading since the movie gives everyone a chance to be salty and sweet. Even Negasonic Teenage Warhead throws out a smile before all is said and done.
Those jokes–because it’s all about the jokes here–continue to the violence, which is over-the-top and bloody. The movie is full of action scenes, and most are better than what you’re going to get in Marvel and DC superhero movies because we don’t have to take them seriously. Deadpool can get ripped in half and that’s gnarly and funny. Hands can get chopped off and spill blood, and walls are made to be knocked through in a way that treads the line between painful and slapstick.
Adding comedy to the fighting allows for a bigger variety of action types, such as Domino who’s luck-based superpower turns every environment she’s in into a Rube Goldberg machine. She’s an absolute delight, and watching her fight is just as mesmerizing as anything in Dr. Strange.
Above all, Deadpool 2 is a movie that knows how to handle its jokes, how to tag them and build them. Rarely is something just a one-off gag. My favorite bit comes around the middle of the movie, when a character mentions the weather. It’s a funny jab, one joke in a long series, and then the movie doubles back on it a few minutes later. The weather is important.
For all of its play and violence though, there’s really more to Deadpool 2 than meets the eye. The film operates on themes of loss and overcoming grief, and as Deadpool jokes, it’s really a family movie in that regard. There are right and wrong ways to be sad, and there are right and wrong ways to find/create a family. People deserve second chances.
It all comes down to Cable. He’s the big-bad in the trailers, the future-soldier with a big gun and a robot arm. He’s grim and dark, a time-traveler on a mission to kill a child in hopes of righting the future. Yet the more time we spend with him, the more we realize he’s not really a villain and, in fact, is similar to Deadpool: He’s hurting, he’s lonely, and he thinks what he’s doing is right. The two become wonderful foils for each other, and their personalities play well together by being so contrasting.
What this allows Deadpool 2 to do then is change its structure around. It’s a movie without a central villain, because at the end of the day, Cable isn’t much of a badguy (the foil continues because let’s face it, Deadpool ain’t much of a goodguy). It allows for the two characters to do more than fight each other, and their bits of genuine conversation bring out the best in both.
Meanwhile, Russel turns into this emotional core that works way better than it should be. Julian Dennison sells his scenes, and when he gets mad, he gets scary. It’s all very genuine, and given the stakes at at hand, threatening too. He goes toe-to-toe with Reynolds in the comedy but is able to sell the tragedy in a way Deadpool simply cannot.
I’d say my one complaint with with the film is the tone. For a comedy to deal with loss means jumping between sad, dark, and hilarious, and those jumps aren’t always seamless. It’s hard to know if I’m supposed to laugh at Deadpool trying to kill himself or feel bad for him. It’s a small complaint though, and at the end of the day, I mostly just laughed. Like I said, this movie is a riot.
Before we wrap this up, I want to touch on the music. Deadpool 2 has a great soundtrack and it knows how to use that soundtrack to, once again, be very funny. It’s another tag to jokes on the screen, another way to add more and more layers to jokes until you’ve got a big ol’ cake.
Deadpool 2 is a cake! It’s a candy and it’s cake. It’s good.
Deadpool 2 is a pretty fantastic action/comedy/superhero mashup that won’t appeal to everyone. It’s brilliant writing for jokes that are generally more crass than brilliant themselves, but the absolute commitment is commendable. Deadpool 2 is a comedy without a shame, and I adore it.