Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Movie Review: Deadpool 2

Deadpool 2 *** ½ / *****
Directed by: David Leitch.
Written by: Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick and Ryan Reynolds based on characacters created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds (Wade / Deadpool), Morena Baccarin (Vanessa), T.J. Miller (Weasel), Josh Brolin (Nathan Summers / Cable), Brianna Hildebrand (Negasonic Teenage Warhead), Zazie Beetz (Neena Thurman/Domino), Julian Dennison (Russell Collins/Firefist), Karan Soni (Dopinder), Leslie Uggams (Blind Al), Shioli Kutsuna (Yukio), Rob Delaney (Peter), Jack Kesy (Black Tom Cassidy), Eddie Marsan (Headmaster), Bill Skarsgård (Zeitgeist), Terry Crews (Bedlam), Lewis Tan (Shatterstar), Stefan Kapicic (Colossus - voice), Sean Gislingham (Sammy).
I’m honestly not sure if you could describe the Deadpool movies as good – but they sure do feel somewhat refreshing, even necessary, in the current superhero obsessed Hollywood landscape. The DC Universe is currently in shambles – a lumbering giant of self-seriousness and overstuffed movies that are just lucky everyone loved Wonder Woman so much or it would a colossal misfire. The Marvel movies have generally been quite good – but even when they bring in talented filmmakers like Taika Waititi or Ryan Coogler to add some degree of freshness to the proceedings, they still feel very much the same – very much a part of something bigger and more serious than perhaps it should be. The Deadpool films then act as a kind of counterweight, as it mocks everything the other superhero films take so seriously. This isn’t good for things such as character or narrative in the two Deadpool films we have seen so far, but it does make them a hell of a lot of fun – especially since Ryan Reynolds is so suited for the role, and the movie so gleefully embraces the violence, profanity and pretty much total nihilism at its core. In 2016 when the original came out, I really did wonder if we were witnessing the beginning of the end of the comic book movie era (it will end, every era does) – because if audiences were so ready to laugh along at something that mocked everything the studios were offering them, then perhaps it had peaked, and we were just waiting for the fall. That clearly didn’t happen – but I cannot help but wonder how the Deadpool film will play after the era does end, and audiences see it outside of an era when we soaked in this superhero stuff constantly. But for now, I’m glad they’re around.
In many ways, you could describe Deadpool 2 as being just like Deadpool – but with a bigger budget. Deadpool was a risky move for Fox, so they didn’t spend what they typically would on an X-Men film in an effort to hedge their bets. Because that was a huge hit, they poured more money into the sequel – hired a proven action director David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde) when the original left over “creative differences”. And you can tell. The action in this movie is cleaner than the original, better staged but still juiced for maximum carnage. You kind of have to take your hat off to the Deadpool movies because in the real world, if there were superheroes, a hell of a lot of people would die every time they fight. This film doesn’t avoid that fact, nor does it have its hero mourn their loss – it just gleefully cackles as Deadpool shoots people in the head, or chops off their arms. Even a huge action sequence in the middle of the film – which features the newly formed X-Force has been pumped for maximum cruelty and laughs.
The basic story involves Deadpool being depressed (I won’t spoil why, although it’s in the first few scenes) but determining he needs to care about something more than himself. So he decides that what he’s going to do is saved Russell aka Firefist (Julian Dennison), a teenage mutant with fire hands who is stuck in basically the mutant version of one of those gay conversion camps. Russell and Deadpool are carted off to a prison for mutants – and that’s when they first meet Cable (Josh Brolin) a time travelling part man part robot from the future hell-bent on killing Russell for something he will do decades from now.
Brolin is the big new addition to the cast – and to be fair to him, he is well cast here, playing off his own image, and he gives a least some humanity to what could very well be a Terminator clone. The best new addition though is clearly Zazie Beetz as Domino – whose mutant power is extreme luck, which Deadpool questions, but really shouldn’t. Out of all the new additions in this movie, she’s really the only one I would be sad never to see again – she’s absolute blast.
This remains Ryan Reynolds show though – and he basically carries the whole thing. He also co-wrote the script, so he knows precisely how to play to his own strengths, which he does so shamelessly throughout, while constantly pointing out how shamelessly he is doing it. The movie breaks the fourth whale more often than it keeps it intact, and basically pokes you in the ribs over and over again for two hours with how clever it is, while mocking itself for not being as clever as it thinks it is. This could become insufferable (see Family Guy) – but for now, it works for this character, poking fun of this genre, at this particular time. The shelf life for these movies may be short, but for now, they are pure fun.

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