‘Deadpool 2’ is More of the Same, for Better or Worse

Deadpool_2_posterIt was long overdue, but I am so glad that Ryan Reynolds has finally gotten his day in the sun and the praise he deserves. Along with Gosling, Canada has given us two Ryans that we are not worthy of.

“Deadpool 2” is the sequel to the surprise 2016 hit about the titular foul-mouthed superhero. Again featuring Reynolds in the tight black-and-red spandex, the film follows Deadpool as he protects a young mutant from a time-traveling cyborg named Cable (Josh Brolin, keeping busy this summer after playing Thanos in “Avengers”). Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller and Brianna Hildebrand also star as David Leitch takes over directing duties from Tim Miller.

I enjoyed the first “Deadpool” enough. I think it tries to have its cake and eat it too by poking fun at all the superhero genre tropes while at the same time itself falling victim to them, and the plot is stretched pretty thin. But it’s funny and Reynolds is so damn charming that it worked (and made on a relative shoestring budget of $58 million, it looks commendable). This sequel has nearly double the money to play with (costing a reported $110 million) and while there still are plenty of jokes that miss and production issues I took issue with, this is a sequel that clearly knows what it is.

If you haven’t already figured it out, I am a huge Ryan Reynolds fan and have been for quite some time. I think he has great timing, has mastered the sarcastic insult, and has shown he can be as perfectly cast in a rom-com (“The Proposal”) as he is in a drama (“Buried”). He again is clearly enjoying himself playing the role that he tried so long to get onto the big screen and actually has a few emotional scenes that he gets to flex a tiny bit of serious acting muscles in, but for the most part he remains the goofy and swearing lunatic that earned him a Golden Globe nomination two years ago.

Playing opposite Reynolds’ silliness as the straight man is Josh Brolin as the film’s antagonist. Trying to think back I don’t think Brolin has a single actual joke that he delivers in the entire film, but just the way he plays his character so deadpan is perfect in the tone that the world establishes for him and his dry responses to Deadpool create comedy on their own.

The entire cast does a great job, in fact, and they all know what sort of movie they’re in. Zazie Beetz has a few standout moments and T.J. Miller (normally completely unbearable) does some quipping that earned a few chuckles from me. There are a handful of cameos, but most of them are blink and you miss em; more on that in a second.

David Leitch, quickly becoming one of the most in-demand directors to shoot action films following “John Wick” and “Atomic Blonde,” does a better job at staging the action than Miller did with the last film. A former stuntman, Leitch clearly knows how to set up a scene so that the actors (or stunt people) have room to breathe and move around, even though at times the editing gets in the way.

Which brings me to my complaints with the film, and I’ll start with the editing. Like I said, there are a handful of cameos by some pretty big name actors, but on more than one occasion the film has the shot with them in it last a single second before cutting away, so you can barely have time to process who you just saw. There are also some awkward edits in combat scenes, and the final climax has three different fights taking place between a half dozen characters and the way that is all spliced together is at times jarring. The pacing is at times poor, too, at times almost seeming like some scenes were completely missing from the final cut, and sometimes jokes either run on for too long or the set up is delivered so quickly and with no time to mentally digest it that the punchline holds no comedic weight.

Also some of the special effects aren’t the best which seems to be a trend with blockbusters recently, like how “Justice League,” “Black Panther,” and even parts of “Infinity War” look laughably embarrassing despite being some of the most costly films ever made. I am pretty forgiving about it in this instance, because the whole point of the “Deadpool’s” is more the laughs than the fighting, and the spirit is low-budget fan service, but it just baffles me that this is apparently a problem Hollywood has, and how them continuously short-changing VFX companies won’t help matters.

“Deadpool 2” may not completely justify its own existence or be as funny as it thinks it is, but fans of the first film won’t care. Hell, I doubt many mainstream audience members even pick up on the editing and visual complaints that I have. I liked this film just about as much as I did the first, without the lightning-in-a-bottle surprise factor that came along with it, and I think that many people who loved the first will also find a great deal of enjoyment here. There’s already talks of a “Deadpool 3” and that they want a new director to helm it, and I think it would be cool to see three different filmmakers’ visions and versions of the character; or he can go to Disney and the MCU and get two hours of PG-13 quips and keep the cheap CGI. Who knows?

Critic’s Rating: C+

20th Century Fox

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