The most impressive superpower in “Deadpool 2” is the movie’s ability to be deeply cynical and consistently self-referential and meta-on-top-of-meta with all its clever quips and winking asides …
And yet still have us caring about these characters.
We genuinely root for Wade Wilson/Deadpool and the team he has assembled to carry out his missions. It’s a band of fantastically dysfunctional and oddly lovable misfits with gifts ranging from the magnificent, to the questionable, to one guy who simply answered a “Help Wanted” ad because he thought the job description sounded cool. This geek doesn’t have any more fighting skills than the guy in front of you at the movie digging his paws into a bucket of popcorn the size of a compact car.
But he makes the team!
Even more so than most superhero movies, “Deadpool 2” is best experienced spoiler-free, so I will take great care not to reveal specifics about the many, many, many nifty surprises and developments that pop up throughout the film.
Nevertheless, we can’t talk about the movie without talking about the movie, so you are hereby warned there will indeed be a mild spoiler or two just below.
Ryan Reynolds was born to play the part of Deadpool — and it’s really good to see Reynolds in peak form, first because he delivers a crackling good performance, and also because the release of the actual film means a respite from the relentless, multi-platform ad campaign that had Deadpool doing everything short of penetrating our dreams at night.
Director David Leitch (working from a razor-sharp script by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Reynolds) kicks things off with a slam-bang-pow extended action sequence, followed by brilliant opening credits referencing what we’ve just experienced onscreen.
From that point forward, Wade Wilson/Deadpool will break the fourth wall on numerous occasions with witty observations and asides. (“Deadpool 2” also includes some very of-the-moment swipes at real-life political entities, and I’ll just leave it at that.) This is a movie and also a movie-about-movies, and it works so well on both levels.
Morena Baccarin does fine work as Wade’s fiancée, the former escort Vanessa, who gives him her IUD on their anniversary to let him know she’s ready for them to start a family. (This ain’t no Superman/Lois Lane romance, folks.)
So yes, Wade still has that severe scarring covering his entire body, and he’s pretty much on the clock all the time what with all the ruthless criminals and bloodthirsty henchmen who must be stopped — but this moment is about as close to bliss as he’s known in a very long time.
Of course, we wouldn’t have much of a movie if the plot stalled out there, now would we? Suffice to say Deadpool soon finds himself battling seemingly unstoppable external forces on multiple fronts while he also goes to extreme lengths to triumph over some deep internal conflicts about the true nature of his soul.
Not that he ever stops cracking wise in the process.
We’re treated to a number of “X-Men” jokes, many of them purely visual (some so quick you might miss ‘em if you blink), as Deadpool reunites with Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and the hulking, steel-bodied Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), who continues to comport himself with great dignity and honor, and continues to believe Wade/Deadpool can become a better man/superhero.
The talented Julian Dennison is well cast as Firefist, a teenage mutant who can shoot fire from his hands. (Thus the name, which seems pretty dead-on.) Josh Brolin, fresh off playing Thanos in “Infinity War,” gives perhaps the best supporting performance in the film as Cable, a time-traveling mutant soldier on a mission to take down Firefist before the kid does some serious damage.
Deadpool believes Firefist can be saved from going to the dark side. To that end, he forms his own squad, which he rather lamely calls X-Force. (Of course he’s called out for coming up with such a derivative moniker.)
I loved the X-Force. The standouts include Terry Crews as Bedlam, who can generate bio-electric fields; Bill Skarsgard as Zeigeist, who has the disgusting ability to spew acidic vomit; and my favorite, Zazie Beetz as Domino, whose superpower is … she’s lucky. REALLY, REALLY lucky.
Hey. Don’t discount it until you see her in action.
Oh, and we can’t forget Peter (Rob Delaney), a soft-bodied regular ol’ human with a serious mustache. Wade adds Peter to the team because why not?
A few of the movie parody jokes and pop music cues feel a little timeworn. We’ve seen satires on THAT particular film scene before and we’ve heard THAT particularly sappy ballad used to comedic effect before as well. But even the easier jokes are delivered with enthusiasm, and accompanied by creatively gruesome R-rated carnage.
Josh Brolin brings the same intensity to the character of Cable that he delivers in deadly serious roles in films such as “No Country For Old Men” and “Sicario,” and that makes for a great and fascinating performance. Cable is arguably the most intriguing character of all in “Deadpool 2,” and there’s more to come. (Brolin has reportedly signed on for a multi-movie story arc for Cable.)
“Deadpool 2” is wicked, dark fun from start to finish, with some twisted and very funny special effects, cool production elements, terrific ensemble work — and for dessert, perhaps the best end-credits “cookie” scene ever.
This is the best sequel since “Godfather II.” OK, not quite, but that sounds like something Deadpool will say about “Deadpool 2” in “Deadpool 3.”
Twentieth Century Fox presents a film directed by David Leitch and written by Ryan Reynolds, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Rated R (for strong violence and language throughout, sexual references and brief drug material). Running time: 111 minutes. Opens Thursday at local theaters.