Sequels are never an easy feat to successfully pull off, especially when its predecessor is so well loved. Matching the first installment’s quality is one thing, but to actually veer in a fresh narrative direction, while still maintaining the essence of what made it special, is another case altogether. It is no wonder, then, that sequels carry the weight of a perceived ‘curse’ before they ever hit theatres.
When it is the sequel to the highest grossing R-Rated film of all time, however, there is a whole other dimension of expectation added to the mix, such was the uphill struggle faced by Deadpool 2. Thankfully, the latest addition to the X-Men franchise doubles down on everything that made its predecessor such a creative and financial success, proving Deadpool 2 to be that rare sequel that actually improves on its own foundations.
Once again, it is the infinitely charming Ryan Reynolds who dons the red and black jumpsuit as the film’s titular character, in what is now undoubtedly his career-defining role. Most notably, the sequel shifts its narrative course (a requirement of any good sequel, as I have noted above), moving from a love story to a parable on the importance of family, as Deadpool himself points out to audiences with his usual fourth wall-breaking shenanigans. In this vein, the anti-hero now seeks a higher purpose by protecting a young mutant named Russell (Julian Dennison) from the time travelling Cable (Josh Brolin), whose family is murdered by an adult Russell in the future.
While its opening act does initially sacrifice narrative fluidity in the buildup to a noticeably crowded and forced cameo (though I admittedly enjoyed it nonetheless), the film begins to truly take shape following Deadpool’s abrupt departure from the X-Men. The minor shakiness of the opening aside, Deadpool 2 features an unexpected but fitting emotional core, which occasionally rears its head in surprising ways without ever betraying the film’s hilariously crude nature.
In fact, Deadpool 2 is full of surprises that are sure to please both film buffs and comic book fans alike, with appearances by celebrities and Marvel characters that caught me totally off guard. This is a rare feeling for me, as I usually pay close attention to casting news and trailers, so huge credit must once again be given to Deadpool’s marketing team here. With this being said, I am sure the manner in which X-Force is handled will frustrate some, but I personally felt it to be executed in a fashion befitting of a Deadpool film, while still leaving the door open for Drew Goddard’s upcoming adaptation of the team.
Speaking of X-Force, Josh Brolin is impeccably cast as future team member Cable, who acts as a great foil for Deadpool’s zany antics, but of all the impressive supporting cast members, it is Zazie Beetz as Domino who steals the show. Beetz has already demonstrated her scene-stealing talents on the critically acclaimed TV show Atlanta, and in Deadpool 2 she further proves herself with a seemingly effortless happy-go-lucky performance that is pitch-perfect for a mutant who can influence probability, making for some of the most impressive action sequences in the entire film.
Overall, Deadpool 2 impressively juggles a large cast of characters, without ever sacrificing a noticeable amount of screen-time for its titular lead, who at the end of the day is the main reason audiences are flocking to theatres. As a matter of fact, its roster of characters is handled even better than Marvel’s biggest blockbuster of the year, Avengers: Infinity War, in spite of how controversial that comparison might be.
Much of the recognition for this goes to David Leitch’s direction of the screenplay written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds himself. Leitch’s action scenes possess an undeniable vigor, which is not surprising given his extensive background in the action genre as a filmmaker and stuntman. The director’s handle on the comedy aspect, in particular, is laudable considering his contrasting lack of experience with the genre, but it is not always perfect. Deadpool 2 does have more laughs-per-minute than the first installment, which in itself is impressive, but it is also 2 hours long, and could have benefitted from more time on the cutting floor to trim the fat off the occasional overzealous gag.
In my review of Logan last year, I noted that if the 2016’s Deadpool opened the door for both the critical and commercial potential of the R-Rated superhero film, then Logan just kicked that door down. If that is the case, then Deadpool 2 confidently struts through the door with guns blazing and swords a-swingin’. Losing original director Tim Miller to creative differences was an initial blow to the development of the sequel, but Reynolds and co. have nonetheless produced a sequel more than worthy of its predecessor. Although Deadpool 2 certainly does not reach the masterclass heights of Logan, it still solidifies the character of Deadpool as one of superhero cinema’s crowning achievements.
Read Shaun’s take on the film here.
Also, check out Isaac’s statement on an on-set accident here.