Movie

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - EN­TER­TAIN­MENT -

has been taken up a notch.

Leitch re­minds us of his ac­tion chops after the ex­plo­sion, as the nar­rat­ing Dead­pool, aka Wade Wilson, takes us back a few weeks, to his “Merc With the Mouth” dust­ing bad guys in places such as Si­cily, Tokyo and Biloxi. (This, by the way, is all pre­sented in a mon­tage set to Dolly Par­ton’s “9 to 5.”)

Back home in the apart­ment he shares with his fi­ance, Vanessa (Morena Bac­carin of “Gotham”), she and Wade talk of start­ing a fam­ily. How­ever, do­mes­tic bliss is quickly in­ter­rupted as an en­emy has brought the fight to him.

That event sets into mo­tion the film’s story, which sees Dead­pool be­com­ing in­vested in pro­tect­ing a pow­er­ful mu­tant boy, Rus­sell (Ju­lian Den­ni­son), who can gen­er­ate and wield fire.

Rus­sell wants to be called Fire­fist, a name Dead­pool makes clear he thinks is very stupid, and, as a per­son walk­ing around with a few ex­tra pounds, car­ries some frus­tra­tions about how you never see over­weight su­per­heroes.

“The in­dus­try dis­crim­i­nates!” he in­sists.

From whom does this not-so-pleas­ant young gent need pro­tect­ing? That would be Cable (Josh Brolin), a pow­er­ful, part-me­chan­i­cal sol­dier who has trav­eled back from the future to kill him.

Un­able to rea­son with Cable, who has his rea­sons for want­ing Rus­sell dead, Dead­pool de­cides to try to stop him.

Along the way, Dead­pool works at be­com­ing more of a team player. Sure, he’s still bud­dies with bar owner Weasel (T.J. Miller) and cab driver Dopin­der (Karan Soni) — who, by the way, has de­vel­oped a bit of blood lust that seems to dis­turb even Wade — but he fi­nally gives it a shot as an X-Man (well, an X-Man trainee, as he’s re­minded re­peat­edly).

Also re­turn­ing from the first movie are his un­easy X-Men al­lies Colos­sus (the dig­i­tally gen­er­ated metal dude again voiced by An­dre Tri­co­teux) and Ne­ga­sonic Teenage War­head (Bri­anna Hilde­brand), who, Dead­pool is sur­prised to see, now has a girl­friend (Shi­oli Kut­suna). NTW clearly is of­fended by the re­ac­tion Dead­pool gives at this news and ac­cuses him of hav­ing a prob­lem with les­bians.

“Pump the hate brake, ‘Fox & Friends,’” he re­torts, ex­plain­ing he merely was sur­prised an­other girl would want her.

When life as an X-Man doesn’t quite mesh, Dead­pool goes about form­ing X-Force — a name he ad­mits is de­riv­a­tive — with a bunch of no­bod­ies in­clud­ing a pow­er­less char­ac­ter por­trayed by co­me­dian Rob Delaney (“Catas­tro­phe”).

The lone use­ful mem­ber is Neena Thur­man (Zazie Beetz), aka Domino. Much to Dead­pool’s dis­be­lief — and down­right an­noy­ance — her su­per power seems to be luck. (It just drives him crazy, and it’s great.)

“Dead­pool 2” is an­chored by a fun mid-story ac­tion se­quence in­volv­ing Dead­pool, Domino, Cable and a sur­prise guest from the pages of Marvel Comics, in which Leitch again shows us what he can do. And, of course, we get a cli­mac­tic fire­works-filled se­quence be­fore the cred­its roll.

And speak­ing of those cred­its, don’t leave your seats when they start — there is yet some real fun to be had. (Also a blast: the film’s open­ing ti­tle se­quence, which of­fers a vari­a­tion on what the first film did.)

That “Dead­pool 2” feels like such a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion of the first film isn’t sur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing that writ­ers Rhett Reese and Paul Wer­nick re­turn from the first film.

Reynolds also gets a writ­ing credit this time, and it un­der­stand­able he would take more own­er­ship with this se­quel. The role is the per­fect for him, and it’s great fun to watch him do his thing as this snarky an­gel of death.

While we’re on the topic of nice fits, if you’ve never seen the ac­claimed FX se­ries “At­lanta,” you might be sur­prised how much Beetz adds to the mix. No, Domino is vir­tu­ally noth­ing like her “At­lanta” char­ac­ter, Vanessa, but this ac­tress just de­mands you no­tice her work.

Mean­while, Brolin is bythe-num­bers but en­joy­able as Cable. Fresh off his turn as the dig­i­tally ren­dered vil­lain Thanos in the ter­rific “Avengers: In­fin­ity War,” the ac­tor has the weight on screen to serve as a coun­ter­bal­ance to Dead­pool.

Even with de­cent act­ing and ac­tion, what sets the “Dead­pool” movies apart from the su­per­hero pack is, of course, the hu­mor. While the con­stant ref­er­ences to the “X-Men” movie fran­chise can be­come a little tire­some, jokes that come at the ex­pense of the movies re­sult­ing from part­ner­ship be­tween Warner Bros. Pic­tures and DC Comics are pretty funny.

“You’re so dark,” Dead­pool says to Cable at one point. “Are you sure you aren’t from the DC Uni­verse?”

There are some ac­tual emo­tional mo­ments in “Dead­pool 2,” but, for rea­sons that should be quite clear, they can’t be taken too much to heart — de­spite be­ing well-di­rected by Leitch.

With so many sin­cere su­per­hero movies out there, we should ap­pre­ci­ate an­other one that can’t take any of them — or even it­self — very se­ri­ously.

TWEN­TI­ETH CEN­TURY FOX VIA AP

This im­age re­leased by Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury Fox shows Josh Brolin in a scene from “Dead­pool 2.”

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