Deadpool 2 (2018)

“Kids give us a chance to be better than we used to be.”

It’s hard to laugh at the same joke twice. Those unexpected, ab-tigheting, stomach churning experiences really only authentically come and go once. And I think this is the sort of detriment that belies the underbelly of most comedy sequels. Deadpool 2 falls victim to a similar fate. It often borders on outlandish and dips its toes into the politcally incorrect deep ends of the macabre, and in many ways it’s far superior to its predecessor, but the thrill and the surprise of its foul-mouthed and fourth-wall breaking personality has become packaged and processed and expected. Like its eponymous and unceasing character, Deadpool 2 doesn’t know when the hell to shut up. Here, it’s both a blessing and a curse.

Much like the first film, Deadpool 2 pours its efforts into making fun of pretty much anyone/everything, and then the script splashes around and dwells in the exact same clichéd puddles that it so happily mocks. In one way, this suits the character to a tee. He’s an asshole with a sharp tongue and a wit cranked up to eleven. However, it’s also indicative of stagnation, even while the film attempts to humanize its anti-hero Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds). Tragedy strikes. Wade searches for meaning. There’s action and violence and drama. I enjoyed Deadpool 2 more than its predecessor, and yet I’ve rated it lower, almost entirely because the shock value has been rendered futile. It’s like shamefully indulging in another round of Saturday’s late night pizza binge as Sunday afternoon leftovers. What was once fresh has become something cold.

Deadpool has a rather forgettable villain and clumsily adds in the new school X-Force team members, and Deadpool 2 is a tremendous improvement in these two aspects. This time around, Wade Wilson wants to be part of something. To find redemption and to somehow promote growth in his undead stasis. He teams with Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), and eventually meets the lucky lady Domino (Zazie Beetz in a role that needs a stand-alone film). They’re determined to save the mutant orphan Russell (Julian Dennison) from the time-traveling mercenary Cable (Josh Brolin), warping into the past to kill the powerful kid before he acquires a taste for cold-blooded murder. After a benign opening chapter, Deadpool 2 finally finds its stride in this hearty, surprisingly thoughtful Terminator inspired middle section.

Director David Leitch is well-known for his ability to structure/shoot inventive fight sequences and Deadpool 2 is no exception. There’s great comedic timing, some ridiculously hilarious surprises, and even a Grinch sized heart tacked on for good measure. And like a firework display, everything goes off at the same time, exploding without the restraint or the choreography of a well-managed show. What I most disliked was Reynolds’ total inhibition of the character, projecting the missteps of his own career blunders (playing a bad rendition of this same character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, starring in Green Lantern, mocking the DCEU’s dark tone) while refusing to let them go and move on. At what point do you live and learn? Defeat and humiliation and embarrassment force us to change and to grow. Deadpool 2 is a better narrative feat than its predecessor, but it’s a character who relies entirely on a one-note shtick, and our second date with Wade Wilson reveals that he’s mostly all talk.

“Who says that rules aren’t meant to broken?”

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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