Note: This review contains spoilers for Deadpool 2. You’ve been warned.
Comedy is a tough thing to review critically because there is inherently so much subjectivity involved in whether or not a particular bit works for a person. Obviously, there’s subjectivity in any review — particularly in an artistic medium — but talking about a film’s cinematography, dialogue, or even acting seems easier to me. It’s hard to recommend a comedy to someone if you don’t understand their sense of humor. Everyone should see the film Gladiator but not everyone will appreciate the just-as-classic Dumb and Dumber.
Thankfully, Deadpool 2 is a sequel, so I can use that age-old “if you liked the first one, you’ll like this one.” That isn’t to say Deadpool 2 is simply more of the same. There are actually several areas where the sequel diverges from the original in content, but the general over-the-top tone, crass humor, and insanely gory action remains unchanged.
I’m the kind of person that enjoys laughing out loud while watching a comedy, and I definitely lost my shit more than once during Deadpool 2. From the intro credits to the stinger at the end, I had a great time. Just like its predecessor, Deadpool 2 loves breaking the fourth wall. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Ryan Reynolds and the writers acknowledge the audience even more often than in the original.
Not all of the jokes work, but that’s to be expected when a movie hits you non-stop with bit after bit after bit. But it’s that constant barrage of comedy that makes the more emotional moments stand out as not quite belonging.
As Deadpool says in the opening minutes of the film, Deadpool 2 is a movie about family. Deadpool’s girlfriend, Vanessa, dies in the opening scene, which definitely took me by surprise. There’s true weight to it happening, as well. It’s kind of jarring when just seconds before, Deadpool is killing dudes with every household knife he owns and making a joke about not having to use the cheese spreader.
At the end of the film, Deadpool “dies” to save Russell, and I guess we’re meant to feel for him and the other characters? But there’s a prolonged bit about him taking forever to die, which not only goes on too long (there’s some irony for you), but distracts from the poor kid who’s crying and lamenting about being responsible for the whole situation. There’s a dichotomy that doesn’t ever quite come together.
Similarly, the story in Deadpool 2 feels a bit pulled in too many directions — or, more accurately, too few. See, there isn’t really a story in Deadpool 2. Things just sort of happen and we’re along for the ride. It’s not something I was conscious of while watching, but the movie does tend to meander from scene to scene with the only real over-arching thread being Deadpool trying to get through to Russell in the third act.
That’s the problem with Deadpool’s “story” being about him trying to “put his heart in the right place.” In the acting world, we’d call that a passive objective. There isn’t a tangible definition of success or failure, just a nebulous feeling that he’s trying to chase. But it’s also possible that I’m thinking too hard about a movie with an entire scene devoted to Deadpool getting his legs blown off and having to regrow them back from baby form — replete with baby genitals.
There isn’t even really a bad guy that’s consistent throughout. In the first movie, Deadpool is after Ajax pretty much the entire time. In Deadpool 2, the villain changes multiple times. Cable only comes into play in act two, then he teams up with Deadpool and the gang in act three against Russell — who is only a “bad guy” because he wants to kill a worse guy. This comes back to there not being a strong throughline of story.
The action scenes, while exciting and often disturbingly violent, are sometimes hard to follow. Director David Leitch did not direct the first movie, which I don’t remember having this problem. But he also did direct Atomic Blonde, which has phenomenal action sequences. So I’m not sure where the blame lies. Regardless, the broad strokes of Deadpool 2’s action are a nice break from the crass humor, but when things get down to hand-to-hand or more intricate combat, I sometimes wasn’t completely sure of what was happening.
The cast is even larger this time around and the roles of most returning characters are expanded. Colossus returns as a fantastic foil for Deadpool. I love how the writers took this C-list hero from the X-Men films and made him matter in this franchise. Negasonic Teenage Warhead also returns in a smaller role, but she gets some good lines. Weasel and Dopinder are back, too, and they’re both fantastic. To me, those characters are even funnier than Deadpool at times.
The biggest additions, obviously, are Cable and Domino. And I hate to say it, but neither character does a ton for me. Cable doesn’t have much personality and works more as an antagonist for Wade, which is fine. But he feels a bit repetitive because the foil role is already being filled fantastically by Colossus. Maybe some more character development and group scenes in the inevitable sequel will help him build a more unique personality.
I love how Domino’s unique mutant ability of “luck” is showcased in the film. The writing and directing team really make the power seem more tangible than you’d expect. The car chase sequence, in particular, is fantastic. Actress Zazie Beetz just doesn’t make enough of the character, in my opinion. To be fair, she doesn’t get the best lines, but she amounts to being hardly more than yet another under-developed female badass superhero. More female representation is never a bad thing, but I think we can do better than this.
Vanisher, Bedlam, Zeitgeist, and Shatterstar make up the rest of Deadpool’s initial X-Force team. Oh, and we can’t forget the most famous Marvel character of all, Peter. These all make for some hilarious cameos, but I honestly wish they’d have been more involved than just for two scenes. Still, they make for some fun nods to less-known X-Force and X-Men characters.
And just as a fun little theory, there’s at least a decent chance that Peter is more than just Peter. He might, in fact, be Peter Wisdom, a Marvel comics character that is a secret agent and can grow plasma blades from his hands and was part of X-Force briefly. Then again, the Deadpool 2 writers might just be completely trolling all of us because that totally sounds like something they’d do.
Deadpool 2 can be seen as a bit of a disappointment only in that it doesn’t hit quite as hard the second time around. It’s still an extremely funny film that pokes fun at itself just as often as it does Fox, Marvel, politics, racism, overweight people, and even Ryan Reynolds himself.
Deadpool is a bit like South Park in that way. No person or thing is untouchable from a comedic perspective. I greatly enjoy and appreciate that.
It’s probably safe to assume that the next Deadpool movie will actually be an X-Force movie, and I’m perfectly fine with that. Deadpool has always been a character that’s better in small doses, and the writers of Deadpool 2 were smart to expand the cast even farther than in the first movie. I’m not in love with the depictions of Cable or Domino in this sequel, but taken as a whole, the cast works. I’ll be happy to see more of this dysfunctional team.
For more Deadpool, check out my ranking of every X-Men movie!