“Deadpool 2” Movie Review

     After the continual success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe under the Disney umbrella, you had to figure rival studios who owned the rights to other Marvel characters would find a way to cash in on the hype.  20th Century Fox actually found success using Marvel comic book characters some eight years before “Ironman” began what we now know as the MCU with 2000’s “X-Men” and the eventual series of sequels and spin offs that followed.  But if there was one potential area that had yet to be explored as of two years ago, it was the thought of an R-rated superhero film and the viability of such a risk given the success of the genre has seemed to depend mainly on attracting kids to the theater in order to achieve the kind of grosses we have seen from recent films such as “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War”.  Of course, as we all know, the rules changed when Fox released “Deadpool” in 2016, a superhero film featuring the kind of continual raunchiness normally found in your average teen sex comedy that singlehandedly launched a very naughty kind of sub genre within the comic book film realm, while breaking every known box office record for an R-rated film.

     Sequels within this genre are inevitable, particularly given the success of the first film, so it’s no surprise that just over two years later, we have “Deadpool 2”, marking the return of Ryan Reynolds as the self described “Merc with a Mouth” and plenty of new characters who function primarily as fodder for Wade Wilson’s relentless verbal barrage of dirty minded one liners.  Taking the reigns from “Deadpool” director Tim Miller is “Atomic Blonde” helmer David Leitch, who brings his own style of colorful, yet intricately choreographed mayhem to what is already an established brand of violent gore infused on screen killings sure to please the most hardcore fans who seem to get off on this sort of thing.  Amongst the incessant foul language and sex jokes are endless gun shots to the head, decapitations, knifings, and exploding body parts galore.  No, this isn’t a film to take a child to, though the theater I watched it in was filled with parents who apparently couldn’t get a babysitter.

     There’s nothing wrong with this sort of entertainment by the way.  And there are several merits within the story, particularly where Reynolds and his co-screenwriters, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, use the lead character as the center of the joke as it relates to other comic book films such as “Logan”, “Avengers: Infinity War”, and several jabs at the DC Universe.  There isn’t exactly anything new or groundbreaking this time around, but as we often say in life, personality goes a long way.  And Reynolds brings plenty to the table in that department.  And given the R-rating, it’s clear the majority of the jokes are centered around people and movies that only the older crowd will get, with one example being a hilarious rift on a famous scene from 1992’s “Basic Instinct”.

     When we catch up with Wade Wilson/Deadpool, the character takes us through a narrated montage of his latest superhero exploits, as he dispatches various organized crime figures all of the world with the razor sharp precision of his sword.  But not everyone has accepted his over the top methods, with his old friends from the “X-Men”, Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) constantly trying to temper the way he unleashes violence to kill rather than capture bad guys and bring them to justice.  One of those situations occurs early in the film and lands both himself and an abused mutant from an orphanage named Russell (Julian Dennison) in prison for their actions.  

     Meanwhile, a soldier from the future called Cable (Josh Brolin) has traveled to the present in order to find and kill Russell, who he has identified as the cause of destruction in the world he comes from.  All of this sets the stage for several impressive action set pieces expertly committed to film by Leitch, which is not surprising given the chops he has demonstrated in this department with films such as “John Wick” and “The Bourne Ultimatum” among others.  But the fact some of these sequences include common scenes like prison escapes and car chases, all of which would feel right at home in one of the “Fast and Furious” films, does “Deadpool 2” no favors in the originality department however.  As a villain, Cable proves to be a worthy adversary, which compels Deadpool to consult with the always hilarious, and consistently underused, T.J. Miller as Weasel, who helps put together a team of misfits, all with special abilities, who are then dubbed “X-Force” in their mission to save Russell.  Unfortunately, only one of these characters, Domino (Zazie Beetz), stands out,  stealing practically every scene she is in.  Anything moving forward will hopefully feature her in a substantially larger role.

     But the story, as you would expect considering the antics of the first film, take a back seat to the comedic roots of the character whose lines are meant to make the audience laugh at the exact moment we see someone’s head splatter against a wall.  And Reynolds succeeds in doing this a number of times, but sooner or later the well runs dry and you realize it’s just another profanity laced tirade like all the others.  That is, until we get to the post credits scenes which are actually funnier than most of what is actually in the film.  Moving forward, you have to wonder if Deadpool will ultimately find his way into an “X-Men” film where he will likely become more of a sideshow comic relief type character, rather than the main player where his act has clearly hit what was already a low ceiling.  GRADE: C+