Seriously subversive, seriously funny, seriously profane, occasionally even serious, Deadpool 2 is the best kind of cinematic entertainment. Seriously.
It is the kind of film that never feels long, despite the nearly two-hour running time, because it is in a state of constant motion. It’s also a rare action film in that you can watch again and relish all the jokes (and in-jokes) you might have missed the first time or just marvel again (yes, pun intended) at just how well-constructed and enjoyable it is.
Deadpool 2 — even better than the very fine 2016 original — is, rather like its protagonist, sort of the anti-superhero movie. There’s no looming apocalypyse or badder-than-bad supervillain that often make these films so unctuously serious (which also renders them faintly ridiculous). Rather, the tone is almost entirely light-hearted, with occasional forays into poignancy.
This time out, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) has made peace with his horrible disfigurement and found enduring love with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), though it is — as these things often are — rather short-lived.
There’s a new villain in town named Cable (Josh Brolin), a time-travelling warrior from the future packing some very cool weaponry, who comes looking for Wade in the “icebox,” a special prison for mutants. But surprise, he’s actually hunting young cellmate Russell a.k.a. Firefist, a plus-size mutant (whose power ought to be obvious from his name), who — again — subverts convention by not fitting the stereotype. Julian Dennison gives a very strong performance here, raging, pain-filled and believable.
Deadpool assembles a team of mutants (except, hilariously, a guy named Peter, who has no obvious super power) that he dubs X-Force for a daring, pratfall-filled and mostly ill-fated rescue before facing off against a rather more ordinary but still plenty nasty villain, the headmaster of Broadstone House, a reformatory for mutant children, who has the mien of a bureaucrat and the soul of a sadist. (Eddie Marsan imbues lots of chilly menace in a minor role.)
It goes without saying that Reynolds displays the perfect blend of insouciant wit and charm and occasional humanity to shine as the hero/anti-hero. But there’s solid work all around, including Brolin as the gruff but oddly likeable Cable, Zazie Beetz in a breezy turn as Domino along with Karan Soni as Dopinder and T.J. Miller as Weasel, reprising roles from the first film.
Director David Leitch has loads of experience as a stuntman and it shows in the superbly rendered action scenes. The cinematography by Jonathan Sela is marvelous (no pun intended) and the soundtrack has a slew of old familiar songs that add a sappy irony to the story.
The violence, like the off-colour language, has a same eff-you attitude as the original and there are almost too many cultural references and in-jokes to count (in one sitting), though everyone and everything from Justin Bieber to James Bond movies to rival DC Comics gets the skewer in the most playful of ways.
All of the elements come together in such a sublime way, the result is a film that amuses and entertains at an exhilarating, breakneck pace.
P.S.: Stay in your seats for the closing credits.