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Deadpool 2 review: The humour is becoming just a bit wearisome

When Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool tells us yet another improbable twist is ‘just lazy writing’, he could be speaking about the movie as a whole

Geoffrey Macnab
Tuesday 15 May 2018 09:23
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Trailer for Deadpool 2

Dir David Leitch, 119 mins, starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, TJ Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Leslie Uggams

Deadpool 2 isn’t too bad for a film which, according to its own opening credits, is directed by “one of the guys who killed the dog in John Wick”. You can’t help but admire the distributors’ chutzpah either in releasing it now.

Avengers: Infinity War is in cinemas at the moment; Solo: A Star Wars Story is out in a week or two. The sensible approach would surely have been to choose another date but the follow-up to Deadpool seems happy to be sandwiched between two of the year’s biggest blockbusters.

Its profanity-filled, self-mocking humour is becoming just a bit wearisome, though. When the Avengers, X-Men et al have the same tongue in-cheek quality anyway, it’s a moot point whether Ryan Reynolds’ schtick as the sardonic hero is any different from what we get with Wolverine or Iron Man.

After a while here, the action gets in the way of the comedy which gets in the way of the action... and so on and so on. For all his malicious one-liners, we quickly realise that Wade Wilson/Deadpool is an old sentimentalist at heart.

He may wink at the camera and give away the main plot points within the first five minutes of the movie but he eventually behaves just selflessly as any other superhero. His heart (we are continually reminded) is in the right place.

First spotted smoking a cigarette through his mask, Deadpool at the start of the film looks very shopworn and close to despair. His apartment is in a squalid state. He hasn’t been doing the washing-up, always a strong sign of emotional turmoil.


“All Out of Love,” the saccharine Air Supply Eighties ballad playing over the opening credits, reinforces the sense he’s in a prolonged emotional funk, possibly even suicidal. His face is still horribly burned and scarred.

Early on, Reynolds isn’t just the star of the film. He provides a running commentary on events too. “Believe it or not, Deadpool 2 is a family film,” he’ll tell us one moment. “That’s not CGI, folks,” he’ll point out in another.

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He can’t help cracking jokes at the expense of the returning Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), although he gets on very well with Negasonic’s pink-haired girlfriend. As in the first film, he relentlessly mocks Colossus and counts it as one of his greatest triumphs when he manages to make this sanctimonious X-Man swear.

Director David Leitch choreographs the action sequences in the same slick and very violent way as in his other equally frenetic features like John Wick and Atomic Blonde. He’s a former stuntman.

One of his strengths as a filmmaker is orchestrating the carnage in a comedic but often bloodcurdling way. We get one very over-the-top, Kill Bill-style sequence early on in which Deadpool decapitates assorted thugs or cuts off their hands. A couple of car crashes, some harum-scarum skydiving scenes and some chases are also included.

On the evidence here, Deadpool would make a very good goalkeeper. There are two separate incidents, one near the beginning and one at the end, when he hurls himself, David de Gea-like, into the air in slow motion to try to take a bullet intended for someone else.

Reynolds himself co-scripted the film alongside Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Some of the writing is genuinely witty. When Deadpool is asked if a mission has been accomplished, he replies that, yes, in a “George W way” it has (referencing President Bush’s notorious Iraq speech).

He has some funny asides about The Human Centipede and about one of his antagonists looking so dark and menacing that it seems he has stumbled out of the “DC universe”.

What Deadpool 2 doesn’t possess is any depth. The plotting is very rudimentary. Our superhero is desperate to be reunited with his fiancée, the beautiful Vanessa (Morena Baccarin).

He still has a hankering to be accepted as one of the X-Men too (even if he does find the name of the group to be on the sexist side). Showing his softer side, he takes a strong paternal interest in young mutant Russell (Julian Dennison), a fiery-fisted, overweight New Zealand teenage orphan who, it seems, is being abused by the creepy and furtive scientist (Eddie Marsan).

Deadpool is pitted against the lethal, time-travelling Cable (Josh Brolin whose already deep voice seems to have sunk several octaves lower.) We see him slung into prison. At one stage, he sets up his own team of dysfunctional superheroes, the X-Force, whose gifts range from the ability to vomit on cue to a flair for vanishing.

The only one who really cuts it – and is among the film’s best new characters – is the effervescent Domino (Zazie Beetz.) Her gift is that she is always lucky. She has a wonderfully carefree quality that comes from knowing that the dice will always be loaded in her favour.

In the course of the story, Deadpool is beaten up, blown up, mutilated, mauled and generally put through the wringer. None of this affects his capacity for masochistic sarcasm. For the film really to work on anything beyond the most superficial level, we need to believe that he is heartbroken.

However, he is so busy making wisecracks that it’s a struggle to take his grief at all seriously. As a result, the film has next to no emotional traction. Reynolds plays the character with the same engaging irreverence he brought to the first feature.

It’s still fun to watch him sending up superhero conventions with such relish but when he tells us yet another improbable twist is “just lazy writing”, he could be speaking about the movie as a whole.

Deadpool 2 is out now.

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