By Elias Savada.
So, as numerous superhero universes collide in worldwide multiplexes, you might wonder if there is an escalating case of mega-budget overload on the horizon. 20th Century-Fox’s Deadpool 2 arrives three weeks after Disney’s oversized Avengers: Infinity Wars shredded box office records in advance of this weekend’s match-up, which will see the Ryan Reynolds-starrer bust through with a strong enough opening to outmuscle its Marvel cousins and best the original Deadpool from two years ago, to become the top grossing opening weekend for an R-rated movie. The silly, self-loathing, subversive sequel will not surprise like its predecessor did. All of you who embraced the wisecracking, middle-finger antics that surrounded the first film will adore the new popcorn king. (By the way, Solo: A Star Wars Story arrives a week later. The Memorial Day Weekend looks real exciting with such a heavenly alignment.)
The irreverent titular character opens the flick with an explosive homage to the late, great Wolverine (see last year’s Logan), part of the X-Men mutant corral owned by Fox (for now, at least). There are hilarious sleight-of-hand nods throughout this two-hour, fast-paced comedy action adventure flick to those residents of the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. Do not blink. (Note to Professor X: It’s a good idea to lock up your wheelchair and the Cerebro interface helmet before Deadpool gets restless and careless.) Even if you shut your eyes for an instant, you might want to revisit the film a week or so down the road to catch all the comic detritus tossed about the screen.
Who’s responsible for this “family film,” as Reynold’s character ridiculously claims to his audience? The film is actually presented by “What the Fuck,” one of the hilarious front credits that offers a writing credit to The Real Villains and cinematography by Blind Al (the character played in both films by the Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress and singer Leslie Uggams). In truth, the director is former stuntman David Leitch (taking over from Deadpool‘s Tim Miller) and the director of photography John Sela, who worked with Leitch on his two earlier directorial features (John Wick, Atomic Blonde). The original’s screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernich are joined by Reynolds, a natural (dim) wit. Bold synergy here. Oodles of compassion, depression, anarchy, and fun. Leitch’s dazzling style makes ample room for the open-faucet supply of satire in the script.
The sequel’s story line follows cancer patient Wade Wilson turned wisecracking science experiment Deadpool as he pokes at fun pop culture and pop tunes while battling the likes of Cable, a Terminator-style soldier of fortune from the future. This cybernetically enhanced warrior is hellbent on wiping out Firefist, a.k.a Russell, a teenage mutant played by Julian Dennison (so marvelous in Hunt for the Wilderpeople), a lad with him Deadpool forms a surrogate father-son relationship. In Cable’s time line, the confused 14-year-old is molded into a nasty adult by the sadistic headmaster (Eddie Marsan) at Essex House, a mutant child conversion facility. Playing the buff Cable is Thanos. I mean Josh Brolin. Yeah he’s in the new Avengers flick, too, but as a more monstrous, CGI-heavy, baddie. In DP2 he kicks more ass, even if he’s not destroying the universe. Other mutant sidekicks, part of what Deadpool christens the X Force, include Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), her pink-haired girlfriend Yuko (Shioli Kutsuna), the chrome goodie-goodie Colossus (Andre Tricoteux and Stefan Kapicic), and especially Domino (Atlanta‘s Zazie Beetz), imbued with the power of luck. Her probability ability is showcased in one especially funny chase sequence.
The comedy is as dark as the blood in Deadpool 2, showcasing a truly inspired character’s blend of invincibility and self-deprecation, flinging off one-liners faster than a machine gun spits bullets. Deadpool loves to break down the fourth wall and chat with his audience when he’s not picking on a piece of. Sight gags are endless.
At its core, Deadpool 2 is an lengthy gag reel that strings together myriad mutants (cue the cameos, including a hard-to-spot Brad Pitt), a bloated storyline, violent set pieces, and even a bit of disturbingly dark sentiment sprinkled about the blood-soaked landscape.
By the way, Deadpool dies in this film. Oops. A few times. Stop it! He dies inside when his gf Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) is stolen from him after they exchange anniversary gifts. WTF! Deadpool also perishes in pieces and yet still lives on. Whew! Wait, what? Okay, just go see the film. You’ll understand.
Elias Savada is a movie copyright researcher, critic, craft beer geek, and avid genealogist based in Bethesda, Maryland. He helps program the Spooky Movie International Movie Film Festival, and previously reviewed for Film Threat and Nitrate Online. He is an executive producer of the horror film German Angst and the new documentary Nuts! He co-authored, with David J. Skal, Dark Carnival: the Secret World of Tod Browning (the revised edition will be published in 2018 by Centipede Press).