Deadpool 2 (2018) Review

In this sequel, Wade Wilson a.k.a. Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) form a team of mutants called the X-Force to protect a mutant boy named Russell (Julian Dennison) from the time-travelling mutant soldier, Cable (Josh Brolin).

You know what they say about a successful formula that works the first time around: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is exactly what Deadpool 2 tries to achieve here, hoping the lightning would strike twice. Like the first movie, this highly-anticipated sequel is packed to the brim with profanity-laden humour, self-referential jokes alongside R (18)-rated blood, gore and violence. But does the familiar more is more approach manages to work in its favour? Well, I have to say it’s a yes and mostly no.

Let’s get to the “mostly no” part first. I have already felt sceptical when John Wick‘s David Leitch took over the directing duty over original Deadpool helmer Tim Miller, who left the project due to creative differences. He may have been an expert in orchestrating muscular action set-pieces (more on that later), as evidently seen in the first John Wick and Atomic Blonde. But Deadpool 2 continues to prove his weakness as an elaborate storyteller. It’s just how he did in Atomic Blonde, making Charlize Theron looks uber-cool as a sexy femme fatale and the action robust enough. But beyond that, the Cold War paranoia and its complicated spy elements felt either muddled or heavy-handed.

Back to Deadpool 2, Leitch’s direction is serviceable. And yet, he is ultimately defeated by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Ryan Reynolds’ mostly self-indulgent (!) screenplay. The jokes come thick and fast with in-jokes thrown in from left to right, hoping they will stick and make you laugh. Yes, I admit I managed to laugh some of the jokes. Except for this time, the jokes aren’t as consistently funny as the first movie. For instance, it was downright hilarious when Deadpool poked fun at Hugh Jackman and his alter-ego, Wolverine alongside the X-Men movies and its cast in the first movie. The second time around with another in-joke about Hugh Jackman, Wolverine and X-Men? Not so much, because they somehow felt stale and repetitive.

While the jokes are mostly a mixed result, Deadpool 2 also tries to be emotional. Frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that. Besides, I’m initially glad the sequel doesn’t carbon-copy everything that works in the first movie. But still, Leitch and the three screenwriters who are responsible for the story, never exactly find the right balance between the emotional impact and the self-referential satire that the movie tries to mesh altogether. Instead, it feels more perfunctory than making us (at least for me) emotionally invested. This is especially true when the sequel attempts to make Deadpool/Wade Wilson a vulnerable human being as well as addressing his ill-fated relationship with his fiancee, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Speaking of Morena Baccarin, I remember how wonderful her chemistry with Ryan Reynolds in the first movie. Unfortunately, her character is apparently wasted in this sequel.

Then, there’s the pace. Deadpool 2 is erratic and yes, patchy in places. The same thing did happen to the first movie as well. But at least, it was largely offset by a frequently witty screenplay along with Ryan Reynolds’ spot-on title performance and its exhilarating mix of violent comic-book action and comedy. Here, the sequel feels a tad overlong and could have some editing. The ending is one of the perfect examples where the definition of “overstaying its welcome” sounds just about right.

Still, Deadpool 2 is not all doom and gloom. The action sequences are both fun and exciting. After all, this is Leitch’s comfort zone. The elaborate chase scene, which is heavily promoted in the trailers, is the highlight here as Leitch balances CG and practical stunts with enough visual flair.

As for the cast, Morena Baccarin may have been wasted in her supporting role but I’m glad to see Ryan Reynolds retaining the same mojo as the wisecracking Deadpool. Josh Brolin, recently appeared as Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War manages to pull off an efficiently gruff performance as the time-travelling Cable. Zazie Beetz is another welcome addition to the Deadpool franchise as she delivers a feisty performance as Domino. Both Stefan Kapicic and Brianna Hildebrand are adequate enough reprising their roles as Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead respectively. T.J. Miller and Karan Soni, who return as Weasel and Dopinder, are both effective enough as comic relief.

There are some jokes that manage to work well in this sequel, particularly when Deadpool poke fun at DC movies in general. And in case you’re wondering about the inclusion of Celine Dion’s heartfelt ballad “Ashes” as part of this sequel’s soundtrack, you will be amused why Deadpool 2 actually did it in the first place. Finally, I like the way Deadpool 2 made fun of a group of superheroes band together as a team a.k.a. X-Force. Well, you just have to see it for yourself how the so-called X-Force team ends up in this movie.

Remember not to leave your seats just yet once the end credits roll. There’s a mid-credit sequence, which is easily the funniest one of all in this sequel.

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