I didn’t like the first Deadpool. I hadn’t read the comics, and quite honestly found Ryan Reynold’s merc-with-a-mouth exceedingly tiresome. Apparently that is the point, I am told by lovers of the comics. Well, each to their own. I didn’t expect much from this sequel, but Deadpool 2 is a moderate improvement over part one. It has a bigger budget, better plot, more exciting villain (in the form of Josh Brolin’s Terminator-esque Cable) and the annoying spoofy meta-textuality isn’t laid on with quite the same irksomeness as in the first instalment. Also, there’s also only one penis joke. Unlike those in the first film, it’s quite a funny one.
One thing that did wrong-foot me was how much of the film Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), spends in a state of suicidal depression. Obviously this is mined for dark laughs, but the device is surprisingly effective. Said depression is brought on by tragedy early in the film, and when one suicide attempt proves unsuccessful, Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) takes Wade under his wing to try and give him purpose as a trainee member of the X-Men. Needless to say, that doesn’t work out, and once troubled young mutant Russell (Julian Dennison from Hunt for the Wilderpeople) arrives on the scene, events twist and turn in different directions, including a stretch in prison and the ill-conceived assembly of Deadpool’s answer to the X-Men, the “X-Force”. This name is supposedly chosen for being more gender neutral, but is immediately dismissed by new recruit with luck superpower Domino (Zazie Beetz) as too generic.
It’s fair to say that if you were offended by the first film, you should avoid the second. Very strong language, bloody violence and sexual references are proliferated throughout, so consider yourself duly warned. However, the impossible-to-offend brigade will enjoy this as much as the first, assuming they aren’t people like me who weren’t so much offended as bored. Was I bored this time? Not as much. The character of Deadpool still annoys me, but this film at least has a bit of a heart in that for all it’s winking at the audience and fourth wall breaking, it is genuinely about the importance of family (surrogate or otherwise), and how doing the right thing is often messy and causes trouble. Not that director David Leitch is taking this particularly seriously as a moral tale. Nor should he, if he is aiming for the high watermark of offend-everyone superhero satire, Kick-Ass (of which this still falls woefully short).
Leitch stages action scenes quite well, especially one darkly funny sequence involving a parachute drop and an elaborate vehicle chase. There are a few surprise cameos, end credit gags, and I have to confess there were at least three places I genuinely guffawed, so that’s halfway towards film critic Mark Kermode’s famous six laugh test. One of these laughs involved the James Bond spoof opening titles, which announce the film is directed by “One of the people who killed John Wick’s dog”.
In short, fans will find plenty to enjoy here. The unconverted are likely to remain so, but if dragged along perhaps they will only feel moderately fed up.