If I had seen Deadpool 2 without having seen the first back in 2016, I definitely would have given it a higher rating. However, despite a lot of the jokes landing for me, the whole premise felt a little staler, and some of the meta-excuses for a below average plot felt less novel and more cheap. This is definitely because of the success and subsequent ubiquity of the character, with the concept of a more violent, crude and sexual superhero film holding a lot more novelty as a new concept than it does now, especially following the R rated and excellent Logan. Just a warning: to fully illustrate some of my grievances with this film, I’m going to need to use some spoilers.
Regardless of other faults the film might have, the performances from each cast member were spot on. Ryan Reynolds again manages to fully embrace the character, and a lot of jokes manage to land in part because of how much fun he’s clearly having. Another highlight is from Hunt for the Wilderpeople‘s Julian Dennison, who in both roles has shown fantastic range in projecting both excellent comic timing and a sincere sense of pain and suffering.
The action, whilst less funny than the first in places, is also more slick and energetic, almost certainly because of director David Leitch, who also worked on John Wick and Atomic Blonde. Though this sometimes made the film feel like more of an action film than a comedy, the best scenes were when the two converged; a favourite moment of the film for me was Deadpool fighting unrealistic hordes of people whilst listening to Dolly Parton’s 9 To 5, nailing the corny, crude, nostalgic humour. This didn’t mean that some other jokes didn’t fall flat though. A running gag about dubstep already felt dated and lame, and repeated meta-references to ‘lazy writing’ whenever a poorly designed plot element would emerge only served to draw attention to them. And these came up pretty often.
You would have thought that a franchise that prides itself on subversive comedy would have somewhat more of a subversive and unpredictable plot, but you’d be wrong. With Vanessa’s death coming ten minutes into the film, her character is reduced to a dull ‘guardian angel’ archetype, and many of the stakes later on in the film feel far less meaningful. As funny as the dialogue is between Deadpool and Firefist, the boy he feels compelled to save, it comes across as forced due to the lack of any real build up. Not as forced as the bizarre ‘family’ motif though, that I couldn’t tell if I was meant to find funny or not, and added nothing to the humour nor the drama. Although moments with the ghost of Vanessa were sweet, keeping her alive for at least a little longer in the film could have allowed her appearance and the emotional punch of the film far more impact.
If you were a fan of the first, or particularly if you’re a fan of meta humour and have never seen the first, I highly recommend this film. However, if you weren’t sure on the original, there definitely won’t be much for you here.