by Patrick Bromley
I liked 2016's Deadpool just enough that I'm happy to see it getting a sequel. I thought it did a good job establishing the character of a smart-ass, hyper-violent and unkillable mercenary, creating the tone of the world in which he lives, and distinguished itself from every other contemporary superhero movie by constantly breaking the fourth wall and leaning hard into its R rating. It did all of these things while at the same time barely being a movie, but rather about three action set pieces bookended with lots and lots of flashbacks. When the movie was a surprisingly massive hit, I was happy because I hoped it would embolden studios to takes some risks with their superhero formula (for the most part, they haven't) and because I thought Ryan Reynolds deserved the win after trying for many years to get a Deadpool movie made.
It should come as no surprise that just two years later, we're getting a sequel in the form of Deadpool 2. That it has moved to a big summer release date is a measure of the first film's success and of the studio's confidence in the property -- which, as the film is setting records in its opening weekend, is well-founded. Having established the character and the tone the first time around, screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (along with Ryan Reynolds, who gets his first screenplay credit here) and new director David Leitch have decided to see what happens if they take that character and put him into an actual movie. The results are mixed, but just like with the first film, Deadpool 2 works in the ways that it needs to work.
Oh, right, and the kid is being hunted by Cable (Josh Brolin), a mutant traveling back from the future to prevent the deaths of his own family and the scorching of the entire Earth. Apparently, Deadpool and Cable were a well-loved team in the comics years back, to the point that the character's appearance in the sequel was even teased in the original Deadpool. I get that their dynamic could be appealing because the two heroes are so fundamentally different and that relationship is hinted at from time to time in Deadpool 2, but for the most part Cable is on hand just to be an obstacle to run away from or fight against. Brolin is good in the part and I'd be interested in him sticking around in future sequels, but I'm not sure anyone looking for their dream Deadpool/Cable team up is going to walk way from this movie fully satisfied.
Batman v. Superman and Infinity War and a really funny Logan joke that opens the movie, letting you know exactly what you're in for. There's even a great line about John Hillcoat's The Proposition, and what other big-budget superhero movie out there is doing anything like that? The language is filthy, the violence bloody and ridiculous. I can totally understand the snottiness of it all rubbing people the wrong way, but I find that I'm happy to give myself over to the anarchy of it all because at least it feels alive and more than willing to celebrate being what it is.
Plus, there is an emotional core to the film that keeps it from being a bunch of winking at the camera and f-bombs. The romance between Wade and his girlfriend Vaness (Morena Baccarin) gave the original movie a throughline that made us care when it really didn't need to, and it was better for it. Deadpool 2 does maybe my least favorite thing in sequels, and, to be honest, it took me at least half the film to be won back. Eventually, though, it settles into being a movie about creating your own family, a theme to which I'm particularly sensitive, and again gets us to care just enough to go along with too-muchness of it all, to the point that there are moments in the back half that I found genuinely moving. Again, it didn't have to be at all emotional. I suspect the movie would be just as big a hit if it were just obnoxious and violent and profane. It's still all those things, but at least it bothers to make us care a little, too.