Funny sequel over-delivers
Damaged, disfigured, disinhibited — it’s tempting to describe anti-superhero Deadpool in purely pathological terms. The former Special Forces operative is the living, breathing, profanity-hurling embodiment of toxic masculinity, although to be fair, he exhibits no such ugly behaviour towards his longtime girlfriend (Brazilian actress Morena Baccarin).
And therein lies Deadpool 2’s internal conundrum; as a film that’s aiming to deliver a decisive liver punch to already-fatigued genre conventions, it’s hobbled by some fairly conservative DNA.
This scattergun sequel to the surprise 2016 hit is about as subversive as a middle class teenager who tests his parents’ boundaries to breaking point while still expecting to sit down each night to a home- cooked meal. And that’s pretty much its target audience.
Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is one of those reckless, relentlessly wisecracking troublemakers who can crack even a careworn teacher.
What he lacks in social skills, he makes up for with his twisted sense of humour and fluency in popular culture.
The gags in Deadpool 2 come so thick and fast they demand repeat viewing (neat marketing trick) to catch the ones that were drowned out by the surrounding explosions.
Not all of them work, but in collaboration with Reynolds, fellow screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick maintain an extremely impressive batting average.
After an explosive WTF! beginning, this hotly anticipated sequel literally and shamelessly flogs the premise that superheroes are invincible.
Having lost his reason to live, Deadpool tests his miraculous healing powers to grotesque physical limits — dismemberment, impalement, impossible skeletal rearrangements.
Many of these scenarios — such as the ribald sequence in which his legs grow back — challenge the conventions of common decency to boot.
Deadpool 2 is helmed by David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) who was once upon a time Brad Pitt’s stunt double. He calls in the credit here.
Leitch co-directed the ultraviolent 2014 action drama John Wick, which is playfully referenced in the opening credits — and Deadpool 2 exhibits the same bloodthirsty kineticism, but delivered in a more cartoon style.
Josh Brolin’s Terminator-like villain is suitably charismatic, in a machine-like, alpha male kind of way.
And Deadpool’s accidental sidekick Russell (Hunt For The Wilder-people’s Julian Dennison) — an overweight Kiwi teenager who is mercilessly ribbed for his unfortunate moniker Fire-fist — is an even more unlikely superhero than the title character himself.
But the film’s standout new recruit is Zazie Beetz’s Domino, a kick-ass, selfsufficient female, AfricanAmerican character whose sexy superpower is luck.
The sequel was never going to match the surprise advantage of the original film, and at times the self-cannibalistic nature of the material strains. Taken on its own terms, however, Deadpool 2 almost over-delivers.
Ryan Reynolds plays Deadpool in the sequel to the 2016 original.