FILM REVIEW: A Meta-Hero Makes A Welcome Return in ‘Deadpool 2’

Ryan Reynolds strikes one of many ironic poses in the latest entry in the Marvel Comics universe, ‘Deadpool 2’ CREDIT: Twentieth Century Fox

Superheroes now rule our world. At least the box office receipts tell us so. We’re just here to admire them, and assume the roles of background players.

Thank goodness, then, we have the return of Wade Wilson in Deadpool 2, the intensely busy and highly amusing sequel to 2016’s big screen hit. Vancouver, B.C. native Ryan Reynolds again heads the cast as the facially disfigured mercenary – he of heightened powers of healing – out to avenge all manner of wrongs and spout all manner of one-liners. If you groan at some of them, remember that the opening credits cite the writers as the “real villains.”

Like the first installment in this franchise, this sequel is profane, violent in a suitably gleeful kind of way, and incessantly self-referential. Reynolds skewers his Green Lantern past, along with Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine – pop culture asides abound. So do jabs at the cult of superheroism itself. At one point, Deadpool comments that one adversary is so dark, he must be part of the “DC (Comics) universe.”

In this outing, the seemingly indestructible Deadpool dispatches sex traffickers, ninjas, and yakuza. “He also tries to bond with a teenage boy with serious anger management issues, played by the talented New Zealander Julian Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople). He joins the cast as Russell, otherwise known as “Firefist,” a reference to his power. Zazie Beetz enters the fray as Domino, whose lucky streak is her “gift.” Josh Brolin, fresh from his memorable portrayal of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, makes a strong impression as the cyborg Cable. Deadpool calls his motley crew the X-Force, a “forward-thinking, gender-neutral” name.

Director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) provides crisp, confident direction. He successfully balances the snarky dialogue with relentless action, and also injects several perfectly-calibrated doses of visual humor.  For a send-up of classic superhero comics and movies, Deadpool 2 even manages a few moments of genuine pathos, in addition to what Wade introduces as “a huge steaming bowl of foreboding.”

How much you appreciate Deadpool 2 depends on what you thought of the original, and how you respond to Reynolds’ barrage of pop culture and political barbs, too numerous to count. These are “morally flexible” characters. These are actors clearly having a great time. This is a sequel that enhances and, appropriately, disrespects its predecessor. Well done. As the mutant anti-hero at the center of this story declares, “You’re welcome, Canada.”

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