Dead­pool 2 ups gags and in-jokes

The Southland Times - - Front Page -

Dead­pool 2. (R16, 119 mins) Di­rected by David Leitch ★★★ 1⁄

2

It’s easy to for­get, even just a cou­ple of years down the track, just what a blast and a sur­prise that first Dead­pool was.

It un­der­cut all the po-faced se­ri­ous­ness that was threat­en­ing to turn the Marvel fran­chise into more of a slog than it needed to be. The jokes were truly funny, the pop-cul­ture ref­er­ences came in at all an­gles – Ryan Reynolds hold­ing up the bleed­ing stump of his hand and whispering ‘‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Mar­garet’’ is still about as funny and deliri­ously daft a mo­ment as I’ve ever seen on a movie screen – and that R rat­ing was proudly and in­con­tro­vert­ibly earned.

Dead­pool had true swag­ger. It was a film that didn’t care whether you were of­fended, it just wanted to be al­lowed to ex­ist on its own terms.

Two years later and the inevitable se­quel ar­rives with the sort of fanfare and mar­ket­ing bud­get the orig­i­nal couldn’t have dreamed of. Does it work? Kind of. In a se­quels-are-al­ways-a-bit-ofa-let-down way.

We pick up the ac­tion not too long af­ter the first film ended. Our boy and Vanessa are hap­pily do­mes­ti­cated when­ever Dead­pool isn’t off, off­ing vil­lains and blow­ing stuff up. Nat­u­rally, it can’t last.

The script throws up an un­ex­pect­edly grim twist and the film seems to be mor­ph­ing into a re­venge and ret­ri­bu­tion yarn. But a new teenage mu­tant en­ters the story and Dead­pool 2 seem­ingly for­gets its own first 15 min­utes, as Dead­pool tries to al­ter­nately save new­bie Fire­fist (Ju­lian Den­ni­son) from him­self and the pre­da­tions of the staff at the or­phan­age-for­mu­tants he is in­terred in.

Events lead to a prison break and then an­other new­bie in the shape of Josh Brolin’s ‘‘Ca­ble’’’. And then, af­ter an in­ter­minable open­ing act, Dead­pool 2 starts to find some momentum and di­rec­tion.

Lis­ten, there’s not much about this film I didn’t like. Which I guess is as it should be. Be­cause Dead­pool 2 wants very much to be liked. And that is its weak­ness.

The writ­ers have loaded the screen­play with gags and in-jokes. If that was what we all loved about the 2016 film, then Dead­pool 2 ups the quota so that nearly ev­ery line of di­a­logue now in­cludes some­thing for us to laugh at. It starts to feel a bit strained af­ter a while.

And af­ter the gen­uine tragedy in­cluded in the film’s open­ing stanza, just a lit­tle tone-deaf. What was fresh and hi­lar­i­ous in Dead­pool is try­ing a bit too hard in Dead­pool 2.

But that’s not a rea­son to dis­like this film. Try­ing too hard isn’t any­thing like as dam­ag­ing as not try­ing hard enough. And Dead­pool 2 still hits its tar­gets a lot more of­ten than it misses.

Mostly, this is a lik­able, funny and pretty well-strung-to­gether sec­ond in­stal­ment. Brolin – do­ing dou­ble Marvel duty af­ter his shift as Thanos in In­fin­ity War which, of course, gets a men­tion – is ter­rific as the brood­ing and bro­ken­hearted Ca­ble. When the film starts to badly need to find its cen­tre of grav­ity, Brolin is there to pro­vide it.

Den­ni­son does more than enough to sug­gest he’ll be back for episode three, or maybe get his own spin-off. Like­wise Zazie Beetz as Domino.

Se­quels to sin­gu­lar hits are a tough road to walk. I’d file Dead­pool 2 along­side Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (and about a mil­lion miles ahead of Kick-Ass 2). It’s good enough, with only a whiff of seen-it­be­fore around the edges.

Dead­pool 2 wants very much to be liked. And that is its weak­ness.

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