From The Studio That Killed Wolverine
Following the events of Deadpool, Wade Wilson [Reynolds] has taken several high profile international contracts, executing various elements of the criminal underworld. One particular druglord locks himself in a panic room and, having escaped his fate, pays a visit to Wade’s home. To avoid spoilers, I’ll just jump ahead with the story. Finally convinced to join the X-Men, Deadpool’s first mission involves an out-of-control young mutant named Russell [Dennison], who is threatening to burn down the orphanage he resides in and everyone in charge of it. We later learn that Cable [Brolin], a powerful mutant from the future, has travelled back in time in an attempt to kill Russell before he can become a force for evil in the coming years. In order to stop this from happening, Deadpool must unite a team of unlikely heroes, including Domino [Beetz], a woman whose superpower is being incredibly lucky.
Throughout this review, several highlighted points will feel like they are circling the same all-encompassing flaw within this film: repetition. As odd as this may sound, considering it was a commercial and critical success, Shrek 2 suffered in the same way when it embodied the very thing it was lampooning. The trouble is that something created as a means to poke fun at a huge franchise or genre pieces will eventually perpetrate the same weaknesses it initially spurned in other releases; like an independent coffee shop growing to become a successful chain – the product is the same but you can’t take the moral ground of being different when you eventually operate in the same manner. Now, I will openly admit, this is a bit of an exaggeration for Deadpool 2. It is, for all intents and purposes, a very fun, enjoyable and well-crafted film but there are simply far too many call-backs and when it does something new or bold, it works beautifully but when it lazily plays it safe, the whole thing falls flat. The degree and frequency to which audiences will tolerate or even notice this, will vary.
Stepping away from the negative for a second, Deadpool 2 manages to do something quite impressive by providing genuine emotional heft among the sea of sophomoric jokes. The majority of this stems from the new characters and the performances given and by grounding the story to something personal and contained, rather than escalating to tackle some global threat. Characters like Russell and Cable are extremely well suited to be paired with someone like Deadpool. On the one hand, you have a foul-mouthed, hot-headed child looking for both revenge and somewhere to belong. While one wouldn’t immediately assign the moniker of mentor to a character like Deadpool, Russell’s presence and influence certainly has a somewhat maturing effect on the lead and the role seems almost custom-built for Dennison after his performance in Hunt For The Wilderpeople. Cable is also a classic pairing for Wade, as he was in the comics, due to his sneering, no-nonsense veneer and complete deadpan straightness to Deadpool’s hyperactive eccentricity. With Brolin so recently performing exceptionally as Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, Cable feels a little basic and undemanding but equally, this character in this particular capacity is meant to be much more straightforward and simplistic. As for the other new cast, I will come back to them later.
Despite greatly enjoying the new additions to the cast, the film doesn’t really know what to do with its established characters. Sure, they all make an appearance and have a few solid moments but they are mostly shifted to the side-line. Frankly, with an ensemble sequel, this is to be somewhat expected and I wouldn’t have drawn such significant attention to it, if it weren’t for Vanessa. In my synopsis, I side-stepped a rather large development: Vanessa is killed before the opening credits. I am horribly conflicted by this because on one hand, I appreciate that there was little else to do with her character arc and their relationship presents an issue for the story in its current state (see every superhero’s significant other.. ever), I will also acknowledge the emotional and motivational push that it generates for Wade. However, we have a phrase for that and it is “woman in the fridge.” Every effort seems to be made to make Vanessa’s death both meaningful and justifiable and Baccarin continues to perform commendably but for a film that calls out other films for these kinds of developments, it’s a sloppy move and one that I can irritatingly understand but did not enjoy.
Much like the first film, Deadpool 2 is a really impressive technical achievement with so much being achieved with arguably limited resources (compared to other blockbusters). In truth, I could take a jab at the CGI being ropey at times but for the most part it is handled decently, so we’ll overlook that. Leitch’s direction is perfectly fine and the choice to keep the story grounded and gritty serves both the character and this spin-off series very well but it never elevates or presents us with anything truly standout. Finally we have the sound design, which works extremely well but is marred by Tyler Bates’ extremely temperate score. I’ve noticed that Bates turns up and either produces something memorable and impressive or completely forgettable and compared to Junkie XL’s Michael Jackson inspired tones, this offering doesn’t feel as noteworthy. Having said that, the facetious choral music used during the third act fight scene outside the orphanage was extremely amusing and lambasted the genre’s musical tropes brilliantly.
Much like the nitpicking of MCU features, it’s easy to forget that this film shouldn’t exist and what we’re seeing is really down to a handful of dogged individuals fighting for a subversive property they truly believe in. As such, I hold this feature to high standards, things that could be overlooked or dismissed are magnified because they have already proven themselves capable of producing something better. If I’m not making my hyperbolic point clearly, a half-decent DCEU film feels like a spectacular victory whereas a Marvel film that stumbles even a little, feels like a potentially devastating **. Neither is true and yet we are often left with this impression thanks to what came before. This whole thing rides on the shoulders and charisma of Ryan Reynolds and that man continues to carry this whole thing magnificently and yet a parallel can be drawn bet ween the film itself and the Deadpool rap remix during the end credits: it’s effectively the same thing and Deadpool fans will love it regardless but for those of us who want this sub-genre of self-aware critical scolding to continue elevating and challenging the industry standards, it’s playing it a little too safe, holding a few too many punches and indulging in a few too many hypocritical tropes. I still appreciate everything this film does, I just wanted it to be better.
18th May 2018
The Scene To Look Out For:
During the last wave of trailers, we were told that the team X-Force would be a major factor, with several recognisable cast names. Pretty much everything surrounding X-Force was wonderful. From the interview process, to the inclusion of regular-guy Peter but most importantly the fact that all bar Domino and Deadpool are killed off because of Deadpool’s incompetence and arrogance. It’s a brilliant move and the exact kind of thing one would expect and hope for from this release. I genuinely didn’t care for killing off Vanessa but introducing a handful of powerful mutants and taking them out a few minutes later was brilliant. Annoyingly, one of the better jokes was completely ruined. One of the recruits is an invisible individual named Vanisher. For a while you’re not sure if he’s real or not but then there’s a parachute flying by itself and we realise he is indeed part of the team. As he dies we get a glimpse of who the character is and he audience are both shocked and elated that it’s none other than Brad Pitt. At least, that would be the case if it weren’t for the terrible CGI, silent reaction and quick edit away from it, leaving audiences both confused and not entirely sure if they saw some random guy or indeed Brad Pitt. I’m all for blink and you’ll miss it cameos (Alan Tudyk has one, as do the rest of the young X-Men cast) but if you can’t savour the inclusion then you have to wonder what was the point?
Zazie Beetz is marvellous as Domino, her powers are a wonderful partnering for Deadpool, as the various lucky developments leave her as invincible as Wilson himself. Able to hold her own with the merc with a mouth and a genuine on-screen force to be reckoned with, I would love to see her return in a more pronounced capacity; which I can easily see future films doing. I was also impressed with the arguable main villain. While in prison, Russell befriends the “biggest guy in the icebox” and we are left wondering which character it will be. When it is eventually revealed that the character in question is in fact Juggernaut, I was very pleased; giving audiences a better iteration than the laughable Vinnie Jones in X-Men: The Last Stand.
“Listen to the pain, it’s both history teacher and fortune teller”
In A Few Words:
“I feel this will be a divisive release but for the most part it will please fans of both the first film and the source material”