Directed by: David Leitch
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Zazie Beetz, Josh Brolin, Julian Dennison, Karan Soni, Brianna Hildebrand, Shioli Kutsuna
Rated: R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual references and brief drug material.
Back in 2016, “Deadpool” brought the Merc with the Mouth to movie screens everywhere, finally in a recognizable form (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” I’m looking at you). After the credits, he promised us that the sequel would include his buddy Cable, and this year he delivers. “Deadpool 2” is everything you might want from a sequel. The ultra-violence, grade-school humor, and fourth-wall breaks are back.
“Deadpool” was, at its core, a love story, and “Deadpool 2” is, at its core, about finding your family. It follows Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) as he tries to protect young mutant Russell (Julian Dennison) from Cable (Josh Brolin), a super-soldier who has traveled back in time to stop the kid before he becomes a brutal serial killer.
It’s telling that there isn’t really a villain here – Cable’s motives are completely understandable, Russell is an abused preteen acting out, etc. Deadpool has to assemble a team to take on Cable, and how he relates to the other characters changes subtly over the course of the story. If you like taking a more art-criticism-style view, “Deadpool 2” has a lot going on underneath its considerably juvenile exterior.
But the important bit is: this is every bit as hilarious, gruesome, and over-the-top as the first film was. Its two-hour runtime is so bedecked with all the crass jokes, self-aware commentary, and ridiculous violence that it’s easy to ignore the more serious vein and just bubble along with the film as it runs pell-mell toward its spectacular final sequence.
This is a very special-effects heavy film, as was the first one. Entirely-CGI Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) is back, Cable sports a robotic arm and glowing eye, and so on. Deadpool himself gets minor tweaks to help his mask show the facial expressions so key in this kind of physical comedy. For the most part, the effects are solid. There’s a mystery character revealed near the end of the story whose appearance is pretty uncanny-valley rather than believable, but that’s pretty much the only sub-par effect in the film.
There are more X-Men here than in the first film, which is fun. Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) is back, and now she has a cheery girlfriend, Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna). Colossus is here, of course. Deadpool also gathers a team he refers to as X-Force: Domino (Zazie Beetz), Bedlam (Terry Crews, tragically underused), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgard), and Vanisher (who’s invisible). There’s also a regular joe named Peter (Rob Delaney) along for the ride, but he’s apparently not based on anyone in the comics.
Having seen the first film isn’t a prerequisite to seeing this one, though the first is worth seeing if you’re interested in this one. Stay far away if you have a gore threshold or don’t like juvenile humor. Comics fans may be annoyed by Cable being on the petite side (Deadpool calls this out briefly in the film, which counts for something), but otherwise, Reynolds delivers the merc we’ve all grown to know and love in the pages of Marvel comics.