VOD film review: Deadpool 2
James R | On 24, Sep 2018
Director: David Leitch
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Karan Soni, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz
Watch Deadpool 2 online in the UK: All 4 / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
Deadpool was a superhero film that wasn’t as subversive as it thought it was. Deadpool 2 is even less so, but its secret weapon? It knows it. The result frees up the Marvel blockbuster from having to be clever-clever about its self-aware pop culture references so that it can happily follow shallow conventions… while making self-aware pop culture references. That stops the rude, violent, red-costumed vigilante dismantling the comic book genre in any way that’s meaningful – but it doesn’t stop him from being very funny.
It’s a strange and difficult line for a movie to walk: Deadpool essentially stands between X-Men and Mystery Science Theatre 3000; A-list explosions and effects on one side, and snarky commentary on the other. Of course, by trying to send up comic book movies, Deadpool 2 has to be one, and that was where the initial actioner fell down, as everything was far too formulaic to truly shock. Moving away from origins territory, though, Deadpool 2 finds its horizons broader, its scale bigger and its cheap shots enjoyably cheaper.
We join Wade Wilson (Reynolds) as he celebrates his anniversary with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), only for a target to kill her later that night. It’s the most disappointing misstep for the film to take – fridging a romantic interest just to develop the protagonist’s character – but (a mildly redeeming end credits sequence aside) the film doesn’t let you think about it much while its on: from the moment he wakes up being repaired in the X-Mansion (a welcome return from Brianna Hildebrand’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Stefan Kapičić’s Colossus), the laughs keep coming.
That’s partly thanks to his sparky interactions with the young Russell, who dubs himself “Firefist”, on account of his flaming hands. Played by Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s Julian Dennison, he’s a rude, immature young man who is determined to get revenge on an old headmaster (Eddie Marsan, sporting a repulsive streak) – but Deadpool finds himself having to intervene, as that violent act would send the kid on a dark path towards something dangerous.
How does he know? That’s courtesy of Cable, a time-travelling super-soldier from the future. Played with macho anger and an unexpected amount of heart by Josh Brolin, he’s precisely the kind of surprising character that makes Deadpool work – a villain who you spend most of the film rooting for, thanks to a steady stream of witty dialogue. Brolin and Reynolds conjure up a bromance that rivals the sweet bond between Reynolds and Dennison, punctuated by the amusing deadpan of Kapičić’s moralising sidekick.)
But while the cast are fun to watch, it’s director David Leitch who makes Deadpool a step up from the original; from Cable’s brawling punch-ups to an inspired opening sequence that leaves the carnage to unfold in the background, Leitch helms each set piece with a breathless wit that’s infectious. Given the chance to introduce a whole horde of superhero friends, he doesn’t blink before immediately bidding them farewell, in one of the most entertaining action sequences of the year – which is stolen effortlessly by Zazie Beetz as Domino, whose superpower is luck (something that robs her of agency, but doesn’t dampen her style). Domino is the epitome of the sequel’s strength and weakness; this is a film that prefers to be superficial, just so it can land a quick gag. When the gags are this funny, though, who cares?
Deadpool 2 is available on All 4 until 11th May 2021.