2018 | DIR. DAVID LEITCH | REVIEW BY GLENN COCHRANE.
Enter David Leitch, a relative newcomer whose capacity for strong, action-driven cinema was proven (and then some) by his astonishing films John Wick and Atomic Blonde. He came to the table with his guns fully loaded, and with a scriptwriting alliance including Reynolds, he conjured a formula that would carry the franchise forward with confidence and style.
The lack of originality and an overwhelming sense of déjà vu was always going to be DEADPOOL 2's shortcoming, and it certainly does maintain the stamina of its predecessor. But where a blatant “rehash” would be condemned in any other film, DP2 has the benefit of being entirely meta and self-referential. It has the ability to look at its own reflection and call out its imperfections, and this deception is where the viewer needs to hold it to account. “More of the same” is tantamount to laborious, and so while perpetuating the R-rated stylings that fans swooned over, Leitch has had to throw as much shit at the wall as possible, knowing that some of it will stick.
The story has Deadpool forming the X-Force, a ragtag fighting team comprised of ruthless mutants including Cable (Josh Brolin) and Domino (Zazie Beetz) amongst others. While grieving the loss of his partner (Morena Baccarin) Deadpool sets about saving a teenage mutant, Russell Collins - who calls himself Firefist - from letting his rage lead him down a path of catastrophic consequence. Of course along the way the audience is treated to a cavalcade of cameos and an abundance of violence... not to mention a relentless barrage of comedy.
And so the question is; is DEADPOOL 2 better than DEADPOOL 1? No it isn't. But is it good? Yes... yes it is. The sucker-punch-effect of the first movie's impact is gone, and an overcompensation of vulgarity and gore has taken its place. In fact the film is so stocked with jokes that it teeters on the edge of exhaustion. And the violence has been elevated to the point of being horrific. Not only is the action graphic, it's as close to repulsive as a superhero movie will ever get. And with no stone left unturned the film is intentionally gratuitous, painfully convoluted and yet entirely enjoyable. It also happens to possess an unexpected sentimentality, with Reynold's character going through the motions of grief as the story unfolds.
Reynolds assumed his character in the first instalment and now he stakes his claim! He is entirely commanding on screen and delivers the brand of wit that only he knows how. Whether spitting lines from behind his mask, or cracking wise through his “over-ripened avocado” prosthetics he teases the audience with the type of maniacal pleasure that a super-villain might enjoy.
Josh Brolin joins the cast and gives a fantastic turn as the ever-popular Cable. It is a stoic and robust performance that offers a springboard for Reynolds to riff off. He is a welcome addition to the franchise, as is New Zealand teenager Julian Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) whose crossover to Hollywood has been natural. He is very good indeed, and yet those of us from Down Under who know his work (and his ability) it is clear that he has been underutilised. Perhaps the American sensibilities aren't aligned with his classic New Zealand nuances, or maybe he has been miscast as Rusty Collins... because as wonderful as his on-screen presence is, his character feels out of place; integral – yes – but mismatched with the overall texture of the movie.
Needless to say, DEADPOOL 2 is an aggressive and fascinating movie-going experience, which delivers what the audience expects, and then dumps a shit-tonne more on them. Whether or not that additional injection of energy is too much, will depend on the viewer. I would have preferred a little less acerbic humour, to be honest, and I found the movie to be rather strenuous. The plot meanders and ricochets all over the place, hoping that it's wide net snags as many laughs as possible, and for that reason it fails to match the integrity of the first movie. Nevertheless it's a whole lot of fun and it packs one hell of a wallop. Over reaching, over done and over the top... but overall FUN.