Rating: 3 Stars
The following review contains spoilers.
Deadpool 2 is a fairly typical sequel to a surprise hit comedy, in that it takes things people liked from the first film and just does them again, but slightly amped up. And so I imagine if you loved the first one, you’ll feel similarly about this new entry, and if you thought the first one had its ups-and-downs, you might be feeling a little worn out now, as I am. Did you like the baby arm? Now he has a baby penis! Remember when he said “Patrick Stewart or James McAvoy?” Now he breaks the fourth wall constantly, including referencing Stewart again, the movie Logan, the DCEU, Batman v. Superman specifically, the film’s budget, the limits of CGI, and artist Rob Liefeld’s difficulty drawing feet. Remember when Vanessa became a damsel-in-distress? Well, now she’s just fridged in the first five minutes so Deadpool can have some emotions.
After Vanessa dies, killed by some rando who’s not really a part of the movie, Deadpool tries to blow himself up only to be scooped up by Colossus and taken back to the X-Mansion. Deadpool has hit rock bottom and so agrees to join the X-Men, and on his first mission has to deal with an overpowered mutant teenager trying to blow up his orphanage. When Deadpool concludes the kid has been abused, he murders one of the nurses, and both Deadpool and the kid, Russell aka Firefist, are arrested and sent to a special mutant prison. Meanwhile in the future, Cable finds his wife and daughter have also been fridged, obviously by Russell, and decides to go back in time and kill Russell before he can become a supervillain. Deadpool, who thinks Vanessa would want him to protect the kid, puts himself in Cable’s way, and much mayhem ensues.
And hey real quick, Russell is 14-years-old, and Josh Brolin is like 50-years-old, so unless the Firefist that killed Cable’s family is in his 70s or even immortal, and yeah he’s not, then Cable sent himself back to a time in which he is also already alive and maybe in college? That’s weird, and nobody ever brings it up.
There are a couple good jokes in this movie. Despite myself, I laughed at the “his mom is also named Martha” reference to Batman v. Superman. I also laughed when they showed a book labeled “The Cure for Blindness” hidden in the Deadpool’s secret stash at Blind Al’s house. And I laughed very long and very well when I realized they were going to immediately kill off X-Force.
It was a pretty well-constructed joke. First, we see tons of X-Force in the posters and previews for the film. Then they we get a big recruitment drive scene where they’re all being interviewed for spots on the team. While this happening, there are at least two references to there being a wind advisory that day, which seems completely meaningless. Finally they jump out of a plane (hoping to somehow land on a moving convoy in the middle of a city I guess?), get blown around by wind, and one-by-one all die horribly (except Deadpool and Domino). I guess if I was smart I would’ve realized they aren’t setting up an X-Force film franchise starring Shatterstar, Zeitgeist, and Bedlam, but I still didn’t see it coming and yes it tickled me.
All of the main actors do a pretty good job. The fight scenes are fine, though most of them are just one super-powered badass easily killing a bunch of scrubs, so there isn’t really any tension in the fights, except when Cable and Deadpool are actually going at it.
There are hundreds of not-so-good jokes in this movie. Like in the first Deadpool, it’s primarily a lot of swear words and references to body parts (and references to pop culture) taking up the space where you’d expect actual written jokes. I’m not a prude by any stretch, but good comedy is difficult, and just saying all the different words for genitals is too easy and it’s boring.
I feel like Deadpool 2 wants to have its cake and eat it too, in that it wants to be a nonstop raunchy meaningless goof ‘em up and provide some kind of emotional arc for its character, and I’m not saying that’s impossible, but I am saying they do not pull it off. If I’m supposed to care—actually care—about whether they can save Russell’s soul by stopping him from killing the head of the mutant conversion therapy orphanage, they can’t also have Domino decapitate a nurse with a bookshelf while all the other orphans literally applaud and cheer. The moral core of this movie is completely all over the place. Like why do they bother making such a huge deal out of Deadpool only taking contracts to kill “the worst of the worst” if they’re going to gleefully kill loads of faceless bystanders in the convoy scene?
If they just want to be Scary Movie for superheroes (and some of the jokes, like when Deadpool uncrosses his legs and shows his baby penis, and somebody goes, “It’s his basic instinct!”, are very much on that level), fine do your thing, but don’t half-ass it, because if you also want me to feel something then I’m going to start thinking more about your story and your characters and your world than you probably want, and Deadpool 2 doesn’t hold up to any level of scrutiny. Even Colossus, who’s supposed to be the boring nerd who doesn’t kill, really couldn’t care less about the wholesale slaughter he’s constantly witnessing from the sidelines.
For me, Domino is one of the coolest-looking characters in comics, and while I think Zazie Beetz is great for this role, I wish she had spent a few hours in the Gamora make-up chair every day to give us something a little closer to the original look. I want to be very, very clear here: this is not a race thing. I do not consider Domino to be Caucasian. She’s a mutant with unnaturally white skin and a dark black spot over her eye, and I think Zazie Beetz could have pulled something like that off. Also, while the comic Domino has a history of let’s say unfortunate outfits, I still thought the cleavage-enhancing leather tank top look was a little ridiculous and outdated. I know most of these characters were created in the 90s, but that’s not a period of comic history I necessarily want to relive.
The two original songs over the end credits are embarrassingly terrible.