Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Ryan Reynolds
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Zazie Beetz, Julian Dennison, Brianna Hildebrand, T.J. Miller, Terry Crews, Rob Delaney, Eddie Marsan
Running time: 119mins
What’s the story: Unhinged, fourth wall smashing superhero Deadpool aka Wade Wilson aka Ryan Reynolds is contentedly separating regular criminals from their limbs. But, he must form a band of super crimefighters, including X-Men old and new, to protect young mutant Russell (Dennison) from the murderous grasp of time-traveling warrior Cable (Brolin).
What’s the verdict: Deadpool 2 opens with the indestructible motormouth informing the audience the first movie’s $363m domestic gross was almost the highest ever for an R-rated movie.
That other gratuitously violent, laugh-out-loud superhero movie The Passion of the Christ pipped it to the post. Although DP was box office champion outside the US, “where religion doesn’t exist”.
After getting a whiff of Jesus’ BO, Deadpool 2 clearly wants to leave the Big J looking at its toned, latex clad bottom. Abiding by the golden rule of sequels, from The Empire Strikes Back to The Raid 2 to The Hangover Part II, this follow-up to 2016’s surprise hit gives punters what they liked the first time, only more.
This cost the movie the original Deadpool director Tim Miller, who jumped ship fearing a swollen budget would gag the punk sensibility. Star Reynolds has no such qualms, joining Deadpool writers Reese and Wernick to cram every story orifice with extra heroes, heightened action and even more self-referential funnies.
Happily, the gambit paid off. Deadpool was fun, but not as smart as it thought it was. Essentially a standard Marvel origins story with a potty mouth, it even ended with a high-altitude peril climax so beloved by the studio.
Deadpool 2 is more assured at having its cream pie and eating it, with a script crammed with in-jokes guaranteed to have nerds geek-gasm’ing. Yes, that Thanos line from the trailer has made the final cut. There are also two blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em gags that will delight the eagle eyed, and the mid-credit scene contains some of the film’s best laughs.
John Wick director David Leitch’s canniest trick is spinning a compelling story around the winks and nods. DP2 goes for pathos the same way The Bourne Supremacy did, with a gut-punch character death. Its plot about an indestructible hero protecting a spiky young lad from an unstoppable time-traveling assassin affectionally rips off Terminator 2.
The mix of mayhem and mush is also accomplished with the élan of T2; a prison transport jailbreak is a riot of well-choreographed action, more thrilling than anything in the oh-so-self-important Infinity War.
Deadpool himself is permitted a wider range of emotions. Meaning some of the best crowd-pleasing moments go to his scrappy gang, X-Force (X-Men being sexist in its gender specificity).
The always-welcome Terry Crews and Rob Delaney, plus a villainous Eddie Marsan, deliver the goods in extended cameos. But, best newcomer goes to Beetz’s Domino. A superhero whose power is luck, where Deadpool sees “lazy writing”, the scriptwriters spy opportunities for hilarious (and wince-inducing) visual japes.
Brolin has a better time here than as Thanos, knowing when to play it menacing, eye-rolling bemused, and furiously tea-bagged. Baccarin returns as DP’s girlfriend Vanessa, getting all Ghostbusters II with baby talk. Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s Dennison is impressive as the surrogate kid Deadpool vows to protect from Cable.
Above all, Deadpool 2 is about the restorative power of friendship. Or as the plucky hero himself puts it, “Only best buddies execute paedophiles together.”
You didn’t get that in X-Men 2. Just don’t Last Stand the next one, guys.