‘Deadpool 2’ isn’t an essential movie event in a summer that will be packed with better options.
Blockbuster season has fully arrived, and up next on the schedule is Deadpool 2. Because there just aren’t enough superheroes. We really need a sarcastic guy who swings swords and makes jokes.
2016’s Deadpool established that Ryan Reynolds’ entire acting career wasn’t a fluke. He steps into the shoes of the effervescent, bloodthirsty comic book character almost too well. What’s intriguing about the character isn’t his powers (he’s an immortal, sword slinging mercenary) but his humor — ever since his comic book roots Deadpool has been breaking the fourth wall by being aware he’s in a comic book, and the jokes have translated well to the screen.
That’s what Deadpool brings to this overcrowded genre — self-deprecation and laughs. It (mostly) worked for the first movie, and arguably works even better here — there’s a lot more self-referential humor this time around.
So, for that portion of its screen time, Deadpool 2 is exuberant and undemanding of its audience, kind of like a fireworks show — you know what you’re getting, and you’ll probably be entertained regardless. But then it tries to be a serious movie, and it all fizzles out.
The story feels like it’s a few different movies going on at once, until the screenplay written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Reynolds bafflingly settles on the least interesting one. One plot thread has Deadpool training as an X-Men recruit, which serves as a sobering reminder that X-Men is also a franchise that’s still going on. Minutes later he also forms the “X-Force,” a group of new X-Men (even newer than him, who joined 30 minutes ago) to complete a mission.
That mission is saving a tormented young mutant named Firefist (Julian Dennison) from the X-Men version of prison after he loses control of his pyrotechnic powers in an act of self-defense. Why not top it all off with a cyborg from the future named Cable (Josh Brolin), who time traveled here to prevent one of Deadpool’s friends from committing a heinous crime in the future.
The plots are mostly interlinked, and a decent movie could carry all of them together if it wasn’t as blandly scripted as this. Story beats are predictable to a groan-worthy degree. Director David Leitch forgets to make the movie funny in these scenes, which is the only thing these movies do well. The result is a feeling of cheapness in its action and story scenes.
At one point a character introduces a plot device for the sake of lazily continuing the story, and in response Deadpool turns to the screen and tells the audience, “That’s just lazy writing.” Yes. Exactly. Making fun of the script’s lazy writing doesn’t make it not lazy.
And there’s enough laziness to share here — the CGI is among the very worst in blockbusters in what may be years. The movie’s obligatory high-octane car chase looks like a half-finished deleted footage they’d include on the bonus Blu-Ray disc. Leitch’s camerawork has gotten sloppy since his uncredited direction of John Wick — there are so many cuts and blur it makes trying to follow an action sequence a chore.
This sequel is the same movie we got two years ago — just a little funnier at times, and a lot stupider when it’s not. If you liked the first, you’ll maybe-probably like this, but it’s become undeniable Deadpool is the exact movie it tries to make fun of. There’s some genuine moments of glee, but with so many action and superhero movies releasing, this outing doesn’t feel essential.
Oh, but if you do go, stick around for the post-credits scene. That alone makes the whole thing worth it.