'Deadpool 2' Delivers

In a time where superhero films are part and parcel of the weekly entertainment gab, very few have been able to capture such irreverent exuberance as the recent Deadpool films. Though Marvel Studios has been utterly dominating the box office against their adversarial-- albeit, insufficient counterparts-- there is talk of fatigue within the superhero sub-genre. (As an aside, I must fully admit that I enjoyed Avengers: Infinity War, to the livid dismay of LowRes & Hans.) From this growing fatigue, however, emerged an unlikely and timely hero in the form of Ryan Reynold's portrayal of Deadpool (distributed by 20th Century Fox), now in his second dignified outing. While I thoroughly enjoyed 2016's Deadpool, the film in retrospect is far too procedural through the first two acts-- something it has to make up for during the final act (and it almost completely does). Deadpool 2, however, is the rare sequel that improves upon its predecessor and takes full advantage (or close to it) of the concept at hand. Through lively direction, fun action sequences, and the ever-enjoyable Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool 2 is the drunken, wise-cracking cousin of Avengers: Infinity War that contrarians will love.

It is important to note the directorial undertaking by David Leitch, as fans were stunned when original Deadpool director Tim Miller stepped away from helming the second film. The result of this change in personnel is a delightfully seamless transition, as if not one beat has gone by since our last adventure with the foul-mouthed Wade Wilson. Leitch, whose other work consists of John Wick and Atomic Blonde -- similarly-energetic actioners-- proves himself as, one, a viable replacement for the Deadpool formula, and secondly as an apt director (with a nack for fast-paced action). There is a level of respect due to directors who, one the one hand, need to deliver a fun and engaging cinematic experience, but on the other hand must seek to disobey all cinematic conventions known to the audience--even if that means stepping outside the dimensional reality of the movie itself. No doubt, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of directors who would falter with such a premise, but Leitch brings a satisfactory approach to the film that should please fans for its lack of distracting from the onscreen antics. Bridged by these antics, however, is a plot that resonates with a blend of thoughtful and downright hilarious substance.

The big baddie of the film (or is he?) is none other than Cable, played by Josh Brolin -- Thanos himself, as Deadpool so eloquently notes. Cable, a gritty time-traveler with a score to settle, is challenged by Deadpool and his friends while in pursuit of apparent vengeance. Cable, being the polar opposite of Deadpool's arrogance and flippancy, serves as a proper balance to the film's character dynamic, keeping it from reaching an extent beyond parody. This also calls for a number of hilarious interactions and interjections from Deadpool-- very notably, Deadpool's "DC Universe" jab in the second act. The script, partially written by Reynolds himself, has created a much-welcomed and practically-symbiotic relationship between the actor and the lethal jokester that brings the self-referential meta humor to new places-- with great payoff, for the most part. More on that later. In addition to Cable are other unforeseen adversaries with which Deadpool has to contend with. This opens up the can of worms that leads to plenty of energetic and comedic action.

By 2018, action sequences have gone to the moon and back. They are generally exciting, but few modern films offer action with substance (a perennial example of which being the rotating hallway fight from Inception). Deadpool is toward the middle of the road in this realm of action films. In terms of what kind of chaos erupts onscreen, in all honesty, there's nothing new. The advantage with the Deadpool films, however, is the room for advanced brutality and physical comedy to butt. This is where the action scenes have their occasional payoffs (in particular, when Deadpool's patented bullet-parrying techniques don't pan out precisely). The biggest laughs, however, come when Deadpool recruits a crack-team of Avengers-lite types, including Peter, who has nothing to offer other than wind-advisory cautioning. Aside from this, the totality of the action is just...fine. There is a particular fight which, in theory, is cool, but even Deadpool himself hypes it as just another "Big, CG fight". This could simply be an effect of the saturation of big-budget blockbusters in circulation these days: the occasional underwhelming nature of certain set pieces. We could also simply be spoiled by getting too much of what we want. Nonetheless, audiences will still be treated to what they like of Deadpool, and they won't fight the film short of stock in the comedy department.

The Deadpool series, especially after this film, will no doubt be remembered for its gleeful forays into meta humor, poking fun at itself and concepts foreign to the other onscreen characters. For this sequel, Reynolds, as well as writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, dial the meta-meter up even further, and it works with near-perfect consistency. To begin to describe some of the gags that unfold onscreen would be an injustice to the sting and effectiveness of the scenes themselves. All that should be said about them to the uninformed viewer is that: for one, they're mostly hilarious, and second, they pay the best of fan services. It will be interesting to see, assuming 'Deadpool 3' isn't already in pre-production, if any punches were pulled in the meta department for the sake of bolstering a third film's gag reel. Either way, the writing team really seemed to put their chips down on the gags for this film, and they pay off with admirable consistency. The film isn't all laughs, however, as this time around an emotional element is not only present, but crucial.

Minus a film-sagging foray into a high-security prison that only serves one arbitrary, superficial point, this film does carry with it an emotional backdrop that genuinely serves as an essential plot element. Things change for Deadpool, radically at times. He deals with that responsibly and irresponsibly throughout the film, mostly by the latter. This film offers the development in Wade Wilson that much of the first film did not-- a chance to find out who he is, or at least who he can be. His idyllic life has been doomed since the day his experiment shaped him into a cheap imitation of corner store pizza-- his ideal can never be. From there, his journey to meaning is the compelling part of the story. This, of course, is a more subjective element of the film among audiences mostly concerned with hearing dirty jokes and seeing people chopped in half. However, the film presents its emotional element earnestly and honestly, and that is another quality that hoists it above its predecessor. With that, at last, we come to our conclusion

Deadpool 2 delivers on its promise, and then some. While it runs about fifteen to twenty minutes too long, mostly due to a mostly-unneeded stay in a prison, the rest of the film delivers a fast-paced, foul-mouthed and fun line of superhero cinema fresh for snorting off your coffee table. It is no doubt Reynolds, along with the world, has embraced the character as the contrarian hero of superhero and action cinema. As long as bloody, crazy hilarity has a market in the movie world, Reynolds and his perfect match of a character will be welcome to return anytime they please.

***/****