The first Deadpool in 2016 took a heap of crap from critics and comic-book savants for being too jokey for its own good. Then, on a cheapskate budget of $58 million, it grossed $783 million worldwide, becoming the money-making-est R-rated movie ever. So yes, you bet your ass that Deadpool 2 has even more jokes, more action, more freaks with superpowers and a more lavish budget … though reportedly not that much more. The worry was that the original flew under the radar and into our twisted hearts, powered by Ryan Reynolds as a terminally ill trash-taking superhero with a face disfigured with burn scars. It’s a bitch keeping that renegade spirit alive in a major sequel, especially one with fiscal responsibilities to lay another golden egg and a sneaking pressure to become legit and – oh, that awful word – respectable.
No worries. Despite a tendency toward elephantitis in story and scope, not to mention blatant franchise pandering, Deadpool 2 still plays like the runt of the comic-book litter. We mean that as a compliment. Wade Wilson, a.k.a. Deadpool, is, now and forever, a bad boy who can’t shut the hell up. This former Special Forces operative turned mercenary still has his swinging-dick swagger and a need to giggle in the face of things that might make him cry. The killer has always been a tragedy wrapped up in farce, and while Wade has a superhuman healing power (goodbye cancer!), his emotions still feel genuine and rubbed raw. Yes, the Canadian actor admittedly sucked at the superhero game when he introduced the character in 2009’s self-serious X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But by this point, Deadpool is Reynolds’ spirit animal, a role he wears like a second skin. No one could play this wiseass assassin better.
Picking up where the last film left off, Wade and his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) are thinking of settling down. “I need you to pump a baby into me,” she winks. Then the door bursts open and everything changes. Domesticity is hardly the thing for a Marvel fringe dweller caught in the limbo between Avengers and X-Men, and director David Leitch (who replaced the original’s Tim Miller) gets a screen credit that reads: “Directed by one of the guys who killed the dog in John Wick.” True enough. Leitch, who further showed off his action-choreography chops in Atomic Blonde, doesn’t disappoint here. Credit Reynolds and his co-screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick for making sure the plot doesn’t get totally buried under the avalanche of one-liners.
Wade refers to this raunch-assault of a sequel as “a family film,” and he’s not completely wrong. There is a kid at the center of it: Russell (a fantastic Julian Dennison), a robust teenager who’s been dealt a rough hand at an orphanage whose headmaster (Eddie Marsan) is determined to keep his mutant charges in line. But the boy, a.k.a. Firefist, is out of control, which is partially why the cybernetic, time-traveling Cable (Josh Brolin, crushing it) swings in from the future. He needs to make sure Russell doesn’t set off a tragedy that will affect Cable personally. “What kind of fucksicle is this?” our antihero asks when he first meets this Terminator clone, and Reynolds and Brolin have a blast together. (The movie gleefully breaks the fourth wall when Deadpool tell Cable, “Zip it, Thanos,” referring to Brolin’s Avengers: Infinity War villain; he tops it with a shoutout to One-Eyed Willy from The Goonies.)
Wade/Deadpool thinks of the unruly teen as a surrogate son; he also needs help protecting him, so he forms his own X-Force, including the gladiatorial Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), the acid-vomiting Zeitgeist (It’s Bill Skarsgard), and the mind-bending Bedlam (Terry Crews). There’s also a dude named Peter (Rob Delaney) who can’t do shit – he just answered the ad. The best of the bunch is Domino, played by Atlanta knockout Zazie Beetz with a star-making presence that lights up the screen and a sassy attitude to rival Wade’s.
The gags keep coming and so do the supporting characters, causing a pileup that, truthfully, weighs the movie down. Sequel-building is a bitch. But how do you not love Wade for taking time out to stream Yentl with Barbra Streisand and suggest a disturbing likeness between the Barbara Streisand song, “Papa, Do You Hear Me?” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” from Frozen? Name an Avenger with that kind of pop-culture savvy. And how do you not appreciate the genuine emotion that Reynolds invests in a damaged being who uses humor as a defense mechanism against private pain? You get a comic-book hero that doesn’t take himself (or the genre) seriously yet still gives us a glimpse at a bruised heart. What else could you want?
Deadpool 2 throws everything it has at you until you throw your arms up in happy surrender. Like its predecessor, the sequel is a grab-bag of humor, sorrow, sensation and silliness. None of it should work – but it does like gangbusters, creating a sequel that will blow you away with nonstop action and hardcore haha. It’s a summer movie that trips over itself in a mad-crazy dash to make us laugh till it hurts. That’s what kind of fucksicle this is.