Two years ago, Marvel refreshed the superhero genre when they re-introduced Deadpool, an X-rated, fast-talking crime fighter like nobody else we’d seen in spandex on the silver screen. Now the fourth-wall smashing ‘merc with a mouth’ is back for his much-anticipated sequel. Directed by David Leitch, the plot sees Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) reunite with a gang of B-team X-Men members after he suffers a personal tragedy. They encounter a teen mutant who goes by the name Firefist (Julian Dennison) who is being targeted by Cable (Josh Brolin), a cybernetic soldier who has travelled back in time to save his family. To protect Firefist and bring down the villain of the piece, Deadpool must form his own alliance.
In the original outing, the narrative managed to successfully toe the line between simultaneously parodying the genre and being a part of it, but the follow-up sees that line become blurred. In the more than capable hands of Leitch, the action sequences are well choreographed and accomplished but for a movie that desperately wants to flex its comedic muscles, the humour is considerably weak. The once-sharp pop-culture references now feel dated and lacklustre, and the script is jam-packed full of joke rehashes or throwaways that probably wouldn’t have made the final cut the first time around.
Even with lesser material, it’s hard not to like Ryan Reynolds in this leading role. He brings comic timing and charisma to the part, and when the gags do land, it feels as though it’s mostly down to his natural wit and charm. He combines quite well with Dennison, whose wannabe gangster ‘skux life’ character is unimaginatively plucked straight out of the young actor’s breakthrough indie Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Brolin is reliably reliable at providing some heavyweight acting chops to counteract the mediocrity of the plotting, and slicked-back Cable has all the attributes of a super cool villain aside from his love of Budweiser.
Deadpool 2 is more safe than shocking and suffers from the cinema equivalent of ‘difficult second album syndrome’. The urge to simply repeat the winning formula of what made the first movie funny takes over, and this repetition in style is detrimental to the story progression that all really good sequels possess. In one scene towards the finale where Wilson is unleashing a barrage of quips, his snappy comrade Negasonic Teenage Warhead retorts that ‘he’s not one of the X-Men, he’s X-hausting’ or words to that effect. After two hours of knob-jokes and meta sarcasm, she’s not too far wrong.
See the trailer: