Film Review: Deadpool 2

Upping the emotional ante, 'Deadpool 2' proves richer and deeper than the very good original. Plus: new-and-improved curse words and 20 percent more mayhem!
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So meta it's practically avant-garde, the superhero sequel Deadpool 2 continues the tradition of the original by talking to the audience, referencing itself as a movie, and having hero Deadpool dismissively call co-star Josh Brolin's character "Thanos”—Brolin's character in fellow Marvel movie Avengers: Infinity War. And while this may inadvertently make it sound as if this comic-book action movie is an intellectual exercise in surrealism, no. There's nothing overtly intellectual about it. Subtextually, yeah, but not overtly. Overtly it's the shooting and the killing and the jumping and the crashing and the blood and the guts—lots and lots of blood and guts, until it all becomes like a Pollack painting, disassociated from any sort of realistic violence, reaching a sublime tightrope of being comic-booky but not cartoony.

That's because there's a beating heart at its core: a yearning for family even more sentimentally barefaced than in the usual Marvel movie. And in that fearlessness to admit emotion, Deadpool 2 transcends something like The Mask wackiness. Somehow, stuntman-turned-director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde), writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and writer-star Ryan Reynolds successfully made a crude, lewd, rude runaway train of mayhem into a genuinely sweet and moving film. With every bit as much comical carnage as its predecessor in 2016, it manages to be deeper and more emotionally satisfying. I know. I can't believe it, either.

Deadpool (Reynolds) remains a cancer-ridden former special-ops guy turned mercenary turned super-mercenary after being experimented on, with the side effect of his cancer's being arrested by a healing factor that even lets him grow back limbs like a reptile. He's going about his business killing sex-traffickers, drug dealers and other scum, apparently for pay though it's unclear who's paying, when a tragedy leaves him bereft and suicidal. That's a problem when you heal no matter what.

That healing factor eventually gets taken away, courtesy of a power-negating collar he and other mutant and mutant-like prisoners are forced to wear upon no-trial imprisonment. (If you think that doesn't happen, you don't know immigration law.) Deadpool, giving it a shot as an X-Men trainee, had tried to contain a dangerous firestarter teen, Russell a.k.a. Firefist (Julian Dennison), who's got a really bad attitude. He can't use his power for good, the portly youth says, since when have you ever seen a plus-sized superhero? But Deadpool calms him down and all seems well until Deadpool goes all Deadpool on some guys that abused the boy. Next thing we know, Deadpool and Russell are cellmates—in a supermax that for plot reasons doesn't separate 14-year-olds from adults—and a soldier from the future, Cable (Brolin), arrives to terminate the kid in the old kill-baby-Hitler conundrum. But things happen, as they do, and the kid escapes and goes full-villain with the help of a surprise guest star.

Deadpool escapes, too, determined to save the kid from himself, and assembles the super-team X-Force using flyers and want ads. That nets him Domino (Zazie Beetz), Bedlam (Terry Crews), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgård), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), the Vanisher (            ) and the non-superpowered Peter (Rob Delaney), who thought this sounded like fun. Abetting them are bar-owner Weasel (T.J. Miller), cab driver Dopinder (Karan Soni) and sardonic maternal figure Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), reprising their roles. Also around are three X-Men—Colossus (voice of Stefan Kapicic), Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and newcomer Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna)—and Deadpool's love, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin).

Self-sacrifice plays as big a part as slam-bang set-pieces, and the movie's audacious humor continues right into the credits. A last-minute time-travel trick negates a crucial event, which is disappointing. But otherwise, Deadpool 2 has its heart in the right place—and we don't mean behind and slightly left of the breastbone, though given what Deadpool goes through, we could. 

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