SEQUEL CAN’T MATCH THE ORIGINAL, BUT DON’T BLAME CÉLINE DION.
Celine Dion has never been chosen to sing the theme song to a James Bond movie, but she gets as close as she ever might to singing a Bond song with Ashes, her latest power ballad featured over the opening credits of Deadpool 2.
Celine Marie Claudette Dion, first of her name, of Charlemagne, Que., has previously lent her iconic pipes to songs off the soundtracks of classic films like Beauty and the Beast (it’s the titular song!) and Titanic (My Heart Will Go On) to great effect: the tracks both won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1991 and 1997. And even when the films haven’t been great (Up Close and Personal, 1996), the songs have been hits for Dion (Because You Loved Me, also an Oscar nominee). That’s her power (of love).
So, yes, that Celine. And, yes, that Deadpool.
It’s all downhill from the credits, though. Not because the movie doesn’t make good on a promise to do exactly what it sets out to, but because it does exactly and only that. Deadpool 2 is an entirely predictable affair that, at 120 minutes, spoils itself.
(But also, how do you top Celine?)
We find the antihero (Ryan Reynolds, in a role that fits him as well as the tight red and black suit does) on a worldwide tour of sorts. Since his last foray onto the big screen, Deadpool, whose superpowers are regeneration and sarcasm, has become a hitman, and an efficient one at that. Seriously, the body count in this movie must be some sort of record. There’s even a montage of Mr. Pool on an international killing spree set to Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5. But when tragedy strikes, he’s invited to be an X-men trainee, but their motto — bringing people to justice without killing them — doesn’t really mesh well with Deadpool. Though he is not an Avenger, his modus operandi has always been avenging.
The problem with Deadpool 2 is that it thinks it’s a send-up of more popular and polished superhero movies like Avengers, when in fact it is a symptom of them. At times, it even exhibits signs of the generic superhero flick it pretends to mock: the line “kids give us a chance to be better than we used to be” is uttered without irony twice in the movie. Even the premise has been done several times before. A ragtag group of misfits who come together to help save the world (or part of it) from a young mutant named Fire Fist who is developing a taste for destruction. There is the giant, muscly metallic man robot named Colossus; a time-travelling mercenary, called Cable (Josh Brolin); and Domino, a woman whose superpower is just being lucky (a super cool Zazie Beetz).
The film’s urge to constantly remind viewers of how cool it is (via endless voice-over and tongue-incheek commentary) only highlights the fact that Deadpool is not nearly as clever as it thinks it is. As a character, Deadpool is crass and a jerk, you see. Oh, and also, he knows it. That’s the punchline to the joke, again and again. A better comedy about an unlikeable, un-killable lead already exists, and it’s called Death Becomes Her.
Deadpool 2 does try its hand at other jokes — to mixed results. Most are stale, the kind that have been around the internet for years (like how come you can’t get a Mcrib year-round), while others are very inside baseball and could go over the heads of casual fans (like when Deadpool signs “Ryan Reynolds” on a cereal box featuring Wolverine). The gems are few and far between, but it must be stated that they are delightful when they do arise, like Deadpool’s obsession with Barbra Streisand’s film Yentl, and how Papa Can You Hear Me sounds a lot like Frozen’s Do You Want To Build a Snowman?
More often than not, however, the jokes are in the spirit of being funny rather than actually hilarious: when Deadpool, mocking politically correct culture, suggests the X-men be renamed X-people, a character shoots back that he is Xhausting. What a great self-own.
Upon deeper reflection, the duo of Celine Dion and Deadpool actually makes perfect sense. Like listening to the diva’s songs, you think, surely, by the third act, it cannot get any higher or crazier. But it does! The difference is Dion’s performances are X-quisite, X-citing even, while Deadpool’s is just X-cessive. ∂∂