Throughout Deadpool 2 certain characters have a running line of their heart not being in the right place. In a way, the same could be said for the film overall. Don’t get me wrong, this is a Deadpool film through and through. From fourth wall breakage, darkly comical violence, certain X-Men letting their freak flag fly and all round visual insanity, this is very much a Wade Wilson adventure. It’s just missing a little spark and emotional heft that the original had so thoroughly in its DNA.
After a fairly dark opening, even by Deadpool standards, the film finds our anti-hero teaming up with the X-Men (all two of them) in an attempt to help a wayward mutant (Julian Dennison) out of trouble. Trouble being the bionic armed, time travelling slab of muscle that is Cable (Josh Brolin).
One of my biggest concerns going into this was that it would end up like another Kingsman 2 – a never ending series of call backs and nods to the original, wrapped up in a bloated mess that could stand to lose 30 minutes. Thankfully, Ryan Reynolds (who also gets a co-writing credit this go around) along with scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are able to bypass this by allowing Wade to really inhabit the universe first set up in the original. We finally get to see what kind of an X-Man Deadpool would make, and it goes about as well you’d think. The real crux of the story, however, is Wade trying to chase a family – or the family trying to chase him. The scarred merc acts as the least appropriate father figure to Dennison’s eager yet volatile Russell (thankfully, they let him keep his accent). I hate writing “this person’s a revelation” in reviews, but in this film, Dennison is kind of a revelation. While he’s kept that trademark comedic timing we all saw and loved in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, he’s also got this palpable rage that he uses to scary effect. Russell’s a broken, angry kid with Wade barely looking out for him, and it’s a true delight watching both he and Reynolds bounce off each other.
Deadpool 2 is very much Reynolds’ film. While the trailers hint at further team ups and an ever expanding line-up, the spotlight rarely leaves Wade. Normally that would be to the detriment of the film, but Reynolds embodies so much of who Wade is, and brings so much of the energy to the film. Interestingly, he’s also given the opportunity to explore Wade’s more depressive side. It’s sometimes easy to forget that he’s a tragic figure in the comics, using his humour and insanity to mask his pain. In Deadpool 2, his depression is touched upon, albeit either for comedic effect or to drive the plot further, so much so that it almost loses its weight, but all things considered, it’s a welcomed touch.
Much like Avengers: Infinity War, however, the film is so overstuffed with characters, gags, action sequences and all round uber meta shenanigans, Deadpool 2 barely has time to breathe, hurting newcomers Cable and Domino the most. While fans like myself may know who either of these characters are, the film also assumes that a general audience does as well, either rushing through their backstories or simply introducing them midway through as part of X-Force. We don’t get a lot of time to discover who these two really are and hence the emotion is lacking. It’s one thing to know Cable’s origin story and reason for being, but it’s another to feel it. And it’s kind of a shame, because both Zazie Beetz and Brolin, when given the opportunity, are outstanding as their respective characters. Beetz brings a happy-go-very-lucky swagger to Domino, eschewing the kind of sullen badassery we’ve come to expect from similar characters, while Brolin is a kind of cyborg military dad who you want nothing more than to hug. He’s all gruff and bullets on the surface, but there are hints of a gooey emotional centre that, unfortunately, the film just doesn’t have time to explore.
Ultimately, Deadpool 2 doesn’t have the same surprise factor or heart the first one had. However, the quips, the humour and the gleeful carnage we’ve all come to know and love about this franchise are all there in a deliciously dark mix that’ll act as a blood soaked palette cleanser to those of us still traumatised by Infinity War.
Also, do not skip out on the mid credit scene.