‘Deadpool 2’ is more of the same one-note writingFilm review by Katie Walsh
“Deadpool 2” is annoying and bad. That’s all you really need to know, but criticism requires argumentation and examples, and it just so happens that the sequel to the shocking (and shockingly successful) superhero satire is rife with evidence for just how annoying, and yes, also bad it is.
Point the first: As portrayed by Ryan Reynolds, the character of Deadpool, also known as Wade Wilson, has always been annoying. The sarcastic, quippy, red-suited burn victim who can’t die is one of those guys who substitutes movie references for a personality and thinks he’s a lot funnier than he actually is. Way back in 2016, under the crushing weight of all those endless, self-serious superhero movies, the snarky, silly sendup of “Deadpool” was a refreshing tonic — essentially the “Scary Movie” of superhero movies. Now, all our superhero movies are funny and self-referential, lessening the unique value proposition at stake for “Deadpool 2.”
As our super-antihero opines in an opening sequence, with all these R-rated comic book movies on his tail, he’s got to up the ante. But then for some reason the movie just doesn’t up a single ante. “Deadpool 2” is a whole lot more of the same, but to extremely diminishing returns. It’s a thin facsimile of the original film, eschewing storytelling for disorganized bits of hyperviolent cheekiness. Deadpool doesn’t assemble his team until almost an hour into the film. The main villain’s motivation isn’t articulated until an hour and 20 minutes. Until then, it’s just a chaotic mess of bland fights and sarcastic one-liners.
That’s just incredibly sloppy screenwriting, something that writers Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and star Reynolds think they can get away with by having Deadpool deadpan “lazy screenwriting,” directly into camera. They’re aware of it, so it’s OK! The thing is, for all of its self-awareness, the film isn’t even aware of its own overreliance on tired tropes, such as the Dead Wife. There are so many Dead Women Motivating Men to Action in “Deadpool 2,” it could have been a Christopher Nolan movie. Now, there’s a ripe opportunity to parody the overused cliche, but that just happens to be the one thing “Deadpool 2” takes completely seriously.
Directed by David Leitch, who helmed “Atomic Blonde” last year, it’s a shame that the action and stunts are messy and maintain little sense of space or geography. The whole thing feels weightless, a series of comedy sketches peppered with a few fun cameos, but there’s nothing with any real physical or even emotional heft. Even the moments between Wade and his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) feel overly affected and ironic.
Deadpool’s crew X-Force, featuring a spunky Zazie Beetz as the uncommonly charmed Domino, is fun to watch, and provides the freshest, lightest laughs of the movie. You just wish it happened way sooner, instead of all the overly-complicated plot setup, wherein Deadpool realizes he has to save the soul of a young, tortured mutant, Russell, aka Firefist (a crackling Julian Dennison). Josh Brolin, double-dipping on Marvel villain roles, plays Cable, a time-traveling super-soldier who’s come back to butterfly effect the future. You spend most of the movie whiplashing between comic book references and wondering just who the heck Cable is and what it is he wants.
The fact of the matter is, if you’re already onboard for this particular brand of irascible irreverence, “Deadpool 2” just might work for you. But the severe lack of storytelling and spectacle in the film shouldn’t win any new converts.
Walsh writes for Tribune News Service.
Rating: R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual references and brief drug material.
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, T.J. Miller, Zazie Beetz, Julian Dennison, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin.
Director: David Leitch.
Running time: 1 hour, 59 minutes.