A not great – but not as grat­ing – se­quel

The Irish Times - - Friday Life Film & Music - DON­ALD CLARKE

DEAD­POOL 2 ★★★ Di­rected by David Leitch. Star­ring Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, Morena Bac­carin, Bri­anna Hilde­brand, Ju­lian Den­ni­son, Ste­fan Kapi­cic, T J Miller, Terry Crews. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 120 mins

Maybe a de­gree of Stock­holm Syn­drome has set in. Per­haps it’s just re­lief that we won’t have to watch any more of the in­fu­ri­at­ingly arch pre­re­lease pub­lic­ity. We shouldn’t un­der­es­ti­mate the power of ac­cept­ing the fu­til­ity of re­sis­tance. But, for at least one Dead­pool sceptic, the se­quel grinded its self-ref­er­ences just a lit­tle less ir­ri­tat­ingly than the hor­ri­ble first film.

Don’t get me wrong. Dead­pool 2 is still sec­ond-guess­ing crit­i­cism and pil­ing on the pop-cul­tural switch­backs. Vir­tu­ally the first thing you see is our an­ti­hero pre­par­ing for his own self-in­flicted im­mo­la­tion to the un­der­cut­ting strains of I’m All Out of Love by Air Sup­ply. (There’s real pain in here, but it’s al­ways a bit of a joke too.)

If you didn’t al­ready know a statis­tic con­cern­ing the film’s box-of­fice per­for­mance ver­sus The Pas­sion of the Christ, then that is also laid out for you. If you like to watch an en­ter­tain­ment dis­ap­pear up its own low-res post­mod­ernism then the new film will not dis­ap­point.

David Leitch’s picture may, how­ever, also prove tol­er­a­ble to those in search of a well-staged ac­tion se­quence that isn’t afraid to do things to the par­tic­i­pants that hurt (or look as if they do). Af­ter the enor­mous in­ter­ga­lac­tic chaos of Avengers: Infinity War, Dead­pool 2 of­fers some­thing just a lit­tle like clar­ity.

This is not to pre­tend that the story makes any sense. The picture be­gins with an aw­ful tragedy that pro­pels Dead­pool (Ryan Reynolds) – in­de­struc­tible al­ter-ego of Wade Wil­son – into a state of un­en­durable de­spair. Fol­low­ing that failed at­tempt to blow him­self up, one of the larger X-Men in­ter­venes and brings him back to the Xavier man­sion for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

You can guess how that works. Called to help calm down a young mu­tant named Rus­sell Collins, whose fists burn like coals, he man­ages to blow away Rus­sell’s (ad­mit­tedly ap­palling) prin­ci­pal and ends up in prison with the delin­quent mu­tant. Mean­while, time-trav­el­ling mal­con­tent Cable (con­fus­ingly played by Thanos him­self, Josh Brolin) is drift­ing men­ac­ingly to­wards the two pals with de­struc­tion on his mind.

De­pend­ing on your appetite for this stuff, the con­stant self-ref­er­ence and break­ing of the fourth wall is ei­ther a shame­ful cheat or a re­lease from the same­ness of the su­per­hero tem­plate.

It’s prob­a­bly a bit of both, and Reynolds’s rel­ish is, for the most part, passed on to the au­di­ence. This time round, they have, thank good­ness, some­what toned down the recre­ational sex­ism. Maybe that’s why it feels a bit less grat­ing.

‘‘ The se­quel grinded its self-ref­er­ences just a lit­tle less ir­ri­tat­ingly than the hor­ri­ble first film

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