Director: David Leitch
Screenwriters: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Ryan Reynolds, based on the Marvel comics by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza
T. J. Miller
Runtime: 119 mins.
Australian release date: 17 May 2018
Previewed at: Event Cinemas, George Street, Sydney, on 15 May 2018.
Deadpool 2 is dead cool, too. In fact, it’s slightly better than the original standalone movie about Wade Wilson’s wise-cracking Deadpool persona, which is quite a feat given the ‘second movie syndrome.’ This time directorial duties have been handed to David Leitch of Atomic Blonde and John Wick fame but Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are again responsible for the script, with some help from Ryan Reynolds, and they’ve come up with a suitably violent and funny story. A few of the same characters from Deadpool make a return appearance too, namely Wilson’s girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), his mate Weasel (T. J. Miller), his roommate Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), X-Men trainee Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), metal X-Man Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapičić) and last, but by no means least, the Indian taxi driver Dopinder (Karan Soni).
A fabulous pre-opening credit sequence shows Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) attempting to kill himself in a thoroughly explosive way - a high-speed jump-cut backstory brings us up to the point where he’s about to detonate a home-made bomb and the reasons why he wants to self-immolate. Don’t worry, this is hardly a spoiler - it all happens in less than five minutes! After this mayhem, we’re primed for more and we don’t have to wait long. A burning orphanage brings Deadpool into contact with Russell Collins (NZ’s Julian Dennison, who memorably played Ricky Baker in The Hunt for the Wilderpeople), a mutant kid with fiery powers who wants to be known as ‘Firefist,’ and a cyber-soldier come from the future to kill Russell, Cable (Josh Brolin), so that he can’t develop into the killer that Cable thinks he’ll become. Due to the boy’s tender years, Deadpool tries to dissuade Cable from his plan but the time-traveller won’t hear of it; he has very personal reasons for wanting to assassinate the kid. Naturally this pits the two men against each other but Deadpool knows he is going to need help to overcome this cyber-man so he assembles a group of weird mutants that he wants to call … (tah-dah!) ‘X-Force.’
Reese, Wernick and Reynolds’s screenplay is very clever and witty. The dialogue that carries all the action along is frequently hilarious as Deadpool’s stream-of-consciousness delivery explains various events to the audience. As in the first movie, Reynolds’s character frequently breaks ‘the fourth wall’ and speaks directly to the audience, to great effect. It’s all very ‘meta’ and very funny and it helps if you’re a fan of ‘80s, ‘90s and noughties music and film; there are lots of knowing cultural references and gags that will add to your enjoyment if you pick up on them. And they’re coming at you thick and fast a lot of the time, so that can be hard to do.
It looks like everyone had a great time making this movie. Reynolds is his usual charming self, not withstanding his character’s facial disfigurement, and Brolin seems like he’s thoroughly enjoying himself. In fact, he appears to be carving himself out a niche as the go-to bad guy in the Marvel Universe, given his role as Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Infinity War. Dennison, the young New Zealand actor, is going from strength to strength and capably holds his own against his Hollywood peers. Leitch has again teamed up with the French cinematographer Jonathan Sela, having employed him on both Atomic Blonde and John Wick, and you can see why. He’s adept at filming this sort of balletic, full-on stunt action. Of course the SFX are outstanding too (the credits for the responsible production houses seem to run for hours) but they deserve to be recognised. Their work is incredibly labour intensive and seamless. Keeping it all in the family, another John Wick and Atomic Blonde alumni, Tyler Bates, composed the score and performed on the soundtrack - there’s even a new song by Celine Dion. How deeply post-modern is that?
Deadpool 2 will not be to everyone’s taste but if you roll with it, it’ll provide you with much amusement. And keep watching while the credits roll when Deadpool goes about completing some unfinished business - there’s a very self-deprecating joke about Reynolds’s flop film Green Lantern which neatly captures the tone of the entire movie. It’s an ironic send-up of the whole world of superhero movies and, with its tongue firmly in its cheek, recognises that they’re not to be taken seriously for a moment. What’s not to love about that?