*This review contains mild spoilers*
In the thirteen superhero films that have come out since the first Deadpool in 2016, there’s been talks of when “superhero fatigue” will set in. Apparently not for a while, seeing as in the past three weeks, Avengers: Infinity War has become the highest grossing superhero film of all time. So what better time to poke fun at the superhero genre once again? Deadpool 2 directed by David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde) is a proudly bloated action-comedy romp, which despite being bolder and in some aspects an improvement on its predecessor, it does lose the freshness that made the original as entertaining as it was.
Ryan Reynold once again stars as Deadpool. As irreverent and crude as ever and suffering from a bout of depression after a personal tragedy, stumbles upon a troubled mutant adolescent Russell (played by Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s breakout star Julian Dennison), who is being hunted down by powerful time-travelling cyborg Cable (Josh Brolin in his 2nd comic book role in less than a month). Deadpool ends up assembling his own superhero team X-Force (a gender-neutral team name Deadpool prides himself on) including luck-based superhero Domino (Zazie Beetz), Bedlam (Terry Crews), the invisible Vanisher and the powerless Peter (Rob Delaney), a character destined to become a cult favourite.
The film’s plot is messy and overstuffed (in lieu of the predecessor’s somewhat streamlined plot) which makes perfect sense for a character as obtuse as Deadpool. The films also tries to be more emotionally driven than the first, but the issue is that despite the filmmaker’s love for these characters, it seems that they are not confident enough in writing serious and legitimately emotional moments without forcing jokes that don’t feel natural.
Which leads to the main issue with the film, while there are truly great jokes and set pieces, Deadpool 2 feels too obvious in the end. Which for a character who’s whole schtick is to be random and obtuse, being obvious and predictable isn’t a good trait. While it tries to subvert many of the tropes within superhero films, some of which work very well, it does rely on way too many cliched conventions itself. Worst of which is the inclusion of the problematic comic book convention of “fridging” (when a female character is killed or injured off as a means to get the plot moving), which is Deadpool’s big driving force in the film.
The film has no shortage of jokes, many of which are based on superhero references. While a large amount of these jokes land exceptionally well, others just feel inserted into the film with no rhyme or reason other than to fill a certain joke quota. It also doesn’t help that many of these said jokes aim to do nothing more than shock. It’s understandable that if you’re going to make a film with a character like Deadpool, there needs to be a lot of jokes, but too many of them feel too artificially placed to really work.
However, while I do sound sour about this film, there is a lot to like about it. With former stunt coordinator turned director David Leitch on board, the action scenes are generally more well-choreographed and dynamic than the standard superhero fare, even if they aren’t as well done as Leitch’s previous outings. When the film’s humour and action scenes visually mesh, it makes for some truly brilliant moments. Most of the cast is charismatic, but unfortunately, a lot of the talent is unfortunately sidelined due to the overstuffed nature of the plot, namely Zazie Beetz as Domino, who feels like a mere supporting character despite Deadpool himself referring to her as a “main character”.
Overall, Deadpool 2 is a film that will have its fans and many of the audience around me were in hysterics throughout the film. While it is undeniably inventive and has many great jokes/sequences in it, it is bogged down by a lot of jokes that REALLY don’t land and awkward scriptwriting. It’s a film that truly misses as much as it hits.