‘Dead­pool 2’ is more of the same

Un­der­neath all the jokes, Dead­pool 2 is ex­actly the kind of su­per­hero se­quel it pre­tends to lam­poon.

Tampa Bay Times - - Front Page - BY A.O. SCOTT New York Times

The script is loaded with hu­mor, but the movie is the same kind of su­per­hero se­quel it pre­tends to lam­poon.

When Dead­pool re­ferred to Ca­ble as “Thanos,” the guy sit­ting next to me lost it. Be­cause, you know, Thanos is the name of the vil­lain in Avengers: In­fin­ity War who is played by Josh Brolin, who also plays Ca­ble, who is mostly the vil­lain in Dead­pool 2. So many lev­els of joke, whizzing by in a split-sec­ond of screen time.

I chuck­led, too. I’ve seen a lot of su­per­hero movies, and that laugh­ter was like cash back from a credit card. Not ex­actly a huge wind­fall rel­a­tive to the orig­i­nal ex­pen­di­ture — I mean, a “Martha” joke is hardly com­pen­sa­tion for hav­ing en­dured Bat­man v Su­per­man — but not noth­ing ei­ther.

The script, by Rhett Reese, Paul Wer­nick and Ryan Reynolds (who once again plays the ti­tle char­ac­ter), is loaded with winky, fourth-wall-pierc­ing erup­tions of meta, the kind of hu­mor that can make even the slow-wit­ted and lit­eral-minded feel dev­il­ishly clever. Works for me, I guess. But this se­quel to the R-rated, X-Men-ad­ja­cent sur­prise block­buster of 2016 works maybe a lit­tle too hard in the ser­vice of a du­bi­ous cause.

The first Dead­pool pre­sented it­self as an an­ti­dote to su­per­hero fa­tigue, but it was re­ally just an­other gate­way drug. If you wanted to get the jokes, you had some home­work to do.

Dead­pool 2, crack­ing wise at the ex­pense of nearly ev­ery in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty in the DC and Marvel uni­verses, uses its self­aware ir­rev­er­ence to per­form the kind of brand ex­ten­sion and fran­chise build­ing it pre­tends to lam­poon. By the end, a mot­ley band of war­riors has been as­sem­bled to fight evil. An­other one. Those jokes about se­quels lined up into the next decade aren’t re­ally jokes, are they?

In the mean­time, we get a sus­tained dose of Reynolds’ pro­fane, in­ven­tive voiceover, and some ki­netic fight scenes, briskly di­rected by David Leitch. Wade’s face and body are still scarred with burns, and he still dis­penses san­guinary rough justice, from be­hind his makeshift mask.

Grief and de­spair drive Wade first to seek re­venge and then to try to pre­vent two other acts of vengeance from tak­ing place. His feel­ings also pro­vide him with a per­ma­nent alibi. How­ever vi­cious he may seem, how­ever cava­lier in his killing and maim­ing, his right­eous­ness is al­ways as­sured.

He be­friends a boy named Russell (Ju­lian Den­ni­son), who has py­rotech­nic abil­i­ties and who has been bul­lied and abused. Dead­pool pro­tects Russell, which helps guar­an­tee Dead­pool’s good-guy sta­tus.

Ca­ble pops onto the scene as the kid ’s neme­sis, and as a lum­ber­ing, square­jawed com­pen­dium of know­ing cliches. He’s a time trav­eler with a me­chan­i­cal arm and a mil­i­tary de­meanor, in effect Buzz Lightyear to Dead­pool’s Woody. The other mis­fit toys in the box in­clude Colos­sus (voiced by Ste­fan Kapi­cic), a large ti­ta­nium-skinned Rus­sian, and Domino (Zazie Beetz), who has the mys­te­ri­ous abil­ity to emerge un­scathed from per­ilous es­capades. “Luck is not a su­per­power,” Dead­pool in­sists.

Vanessa (Morena Bac­carin), the love of Wade’s life, warns him that his heart is not in the right place, and there is a soft­ness, a sen­ti­men­tal­ity, at the heart of Dead­pool 2 that at once guar­an­tees its mass ac­cept­abil­ity and un­der­mines its satir­i­cal cred­i­bil­ity.

What drives this fran­chise is the same force that drives so much cul­ture and pol­i­tics right now: the self-pity of a white man with a relentless need to be the cen­ter of at­ten­tion. He is an­gry, vi­o­lent, dis­re­spect­ful to ev­ery­one and every­thing, and at the same time thor­oughly non­toxic and to­tally cool.

Sure. Great. But there is some­thing ever so slightly dis­hon­est about this char­ac­ter, some­thing false about the bound­aries drawn around his sadism and his rage. Dead­pool 2 dab­bles in ug­li­ness and trans­gres­sion, but takes no real cre­ative risks.

Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury Fox

Most of the movie is a sus­tained dose of Ryan Reynolds’ pro­fane, in­ven­tive voice-over and some ki­netic fight scenes, briskly di­rected by David Leitch.

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