Film Review: Deadpool 2

Deadpool returns in a sequel that manages to up the in-joking, violence, cameos and meta plot points, which will please fans but royally annoy anyone looking for a more straight-forward story.

2016’s first Deadpool brought to indestructible life Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld’s seriously anti-heroic Marvel character and offered Ryan Reynolds a once-in-a-lifetime role that fitted his cocky persona like a gore-drenched glove. This follow-up sequelises it with even more outrageous in-joking, so much so that you might well get a headache keeping track of it all.

Reynolds (a co-writer and co-producer, and whose recent publicity stunts win the internet over and over) is still the best reason to catch it though, as he plays the scar-faced Wade Wilson with more carnage than an Avenger could stomach and enough foul language to make an X-Man blush.

Once again Reynolds’ Wade narrates and discusses both his busy superhero-esque life since we last saw him and the first film (“Deadpool 2 is now a thing!”, he quips), and a long and jam-packed pre-credits sequence has him globe-trotting and massacring rooms full of assorted baddies with swords, guns and sometimes chainsaws, at one point to the tune of Dolly Parton’s 9 To 5 (continuing the odd emphasis on queasy ‘80s pop classics).

The big spoiler, though, comes quickly, and unfortunately it needs to be given away here: yes, his glam gal-pal Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) dies at the hands of some goons and is seen in semi-fantasy ‘Other Side’ moments from then on, leading Wade to a downward spiral of boozing, agonising, public urination and fourth-wall-busting.

He’s saved from despair by X-Man Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic), who drags him to Charles Xavier’s school where Wade wonders why the X-Men refuse to appear (is it a budget thing or something to do with a studio conflict?). He hangs out with Negasonic Teenage Warhead (you read that right, and essayed by Brianna Hildebrand) and her girlfriend Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna) and gets on everyone’s nerves before he’s distracted by the fire-throwing mutant teen Russell, who’s played with scene-stealing skill by Kiwi Julian Dennison from Hunt For The Wilderpeople and isn’t asked to flatten his accent even when he says he wants to make the world “his burtch!”

Russell has a beef with a nasty school run by another torture-friendly mutant hater (Eddie Marsan), and this all somehow leads to Russell and Wade being whisked off to a snowy superhero prison before more crazy plotting results in the creation of the ill-fated but gender-neutral ‘X Force’. They include Bedlam (Terry Crews), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), Domino (Zazie Beetz), Zeitgeist (Bill ‘Pennywise’ Skarsgård), an ordinary dude named Peter (Rob Delaney) who just saw the ad and Vanisher, who might or might not be portrayed by a big star. Don’t Google it!

Somehow in the midst of all this, there’s also the bad guy proper in the form of the time-hopping Cable, a vengeance-driven cyborg with a Terminator eye and a mighty grudge who’s brought to life by Josh Brolin — he, of course also plays Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, and must have been leaping from set to set and exhausting himself with all this villainy.

Phew! At this one’s heart, however, is Reynolds’ Wade — or are they the same person? At one point Deadpool signs an autograph for a bemused kid and it’s ‘Ryan Reynolds’. It hardly matters, as this is a movie where the gags operate on so many meta-meta-meta, intertextual levels that it’s hard to get them all on a first viewing. Note that Deadpool rejoices in the death of Wolverine in Logan, talks about Wolverine as a real figure and as Hugh Jackman as well, goes to Charles Xavier’s mansion but discusses the odour of Patrick Stewart, and then off-handedly dismisses the whole X-Men concept as “a dated metaphor for racism in the ‘60s.”

He’s a character who could drive you round the bend (note that sensitive Marvel purists tend to hate him and these films, the poor loves), but don’t worry, because he’s amongst the most abused and torn-apart figures in the history of the superhero genre (or any genre, come to that). Therefore, every time you’re itching to throttle him yourself he’s promptly stabbed, shot, burnt, impaled, crushed, blown up, decapitated, dismembered and/or defenestrated.

Rated MA. Deadpool 2 is in cinemas now.

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