Deadpool 2 delivers. The movie isn't ideal, but it's funny from front to back (and features the most hysterical credits scenes maybe ever). The script, by returning scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, with Ryan Reynolds weighing in this time too, gives Reynolds' title wisenheimer another armory of weaponized sarcasm to blast out at everyone from fellow superfolk (of both the Marvel and DC persuasions) to Jared Kushner and Elizabeth Kübler-Ross. New director David Leitch, whose credits include Atomic Blonde and the first John Wick movie, keeps the elaborate (and bloody) action coherent for the most part; and at least one of the new mutants introduced—the charismatically cool Domino, played by Zazie Beetz, of Atlanta—should really have "SPINOFF" tattooed across her forehead.
Because the original Deadpool was such an out-of-nowhere box-office phenomenon, pulling in approximately $800-million on a budget of about $60-million, its sequel could easily have been a letdown. The fact that it's not is a happy surprise.
Wade Wilson, the guy inside the Deadpool suit, is still dying of cancer as the story begins, and he's in a pouty mood—to the point where he's been attempting to end his life (a near-impossibility). He snaps out of this funk when he learns about a teenage mutant named Russell Collins (Julian Dennison, of Hunt for the Wilderpeople), who's known in his super-kid mode as the flaming Firefist. Russell is trapped in an orphanage where he's being abused, and Wade makes it his mission to rescue him.
But the kid has also drawn the attention of a semi-bionic terminator from the future called Cable (Josh Brolin, at one point the target of a Deadpool jibe about his other summer job this year, playing Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War). Like Arnold Schwarzenegger before him, Cable has come to Earth on a mission of his own: to find Russell—who could become a big problem in the future from which Cable hails—and put him down. Deadpool, who's all Mr. Nice Guy these days, determines not to let this happen.
And here's the movie's problem. We already saw the softer side of Deadpool in the first film, in Wade's relationship with his girlfriend, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin, still on hand). It was very sweet. But his tender concern for Russell, which takes up a lot of room here, becomes a distraction—in a Deadpool movie, every moment not filled with withering mockery is a moment wasted. We come for the riffs, not the feelz. Similarly, some of the inevitable overload of CGI action (which Deadpool himself derides) takes up space that might be more usefully devoted to our man's disdain and ridicule.
These shortcomings are easily overlooked, however, because there's so much else going on. There are a number of new superheroes on hand, for one thing, including Vanisher, whose actual presence is always in some doubt, and the aforementioned Domino, whose ambiguous superpower is…luck. There are also several clever cameos scattered throughout the picture, and a funny farewell appearance by T.J. Miller (now banished because of offscreen behavior), and a prefiguring of the mighty X-Force. This being Marvel—withering mockery or not—it's a pretty sure thing we'll be seeing more of that super-crew in the not-too-distant future.
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox