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DEADPOOL 2 Keeps Its Humor, Maybe Adds Too Much Else (Review)

It’s amazing that we live in a cinema world where a bananas character like Deadpool can essentially be the centerpiece to an entire film franchise’s future. After Logan put a capper on the first most beloved of the X-Men characters, and the future of the cinematic universe holds a mix of delayed horror outings (The New Mutants), retreads of popular storylines (Dark Phoenix Saga), or critically acclaimed television (Legion), it’s astonishing that Deadpool 2 is essentially the big hope for box office supremacy. The sequel to Ryan Reynolds’ passion project shoulders a lot when it comes to the X franchise, but it sort of suffers because of that.

Nobody thought Deadpool would be a hit, and certainly not the runaway smash hit it was in 2016, and yet it was massive. So a lot was riding on the sequel, and Reynolds and co-writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick made sure to keep the tone of it as close to the original as possible. For the most part they do, but there’s more going on in the film than merely Deadpool’s brand of meta humor, which at times can feel a bit at odds. Nothing is taken seriously…except for the stuff that is.

Most of the best parts in Deadpool 2 are the surprises, and most of those would be plot spoilers, so I’ll refrain. If you’ve seen trailers, the basic set-up is Cable (Josh Brolin) has come back from the future to kill a mutant teenager (Julian Dennison) and it’s up to Deadpool to stop this from happening. Cable is a very formidable opponent, and the X-Men are done with Wade Wilson’s violent shenanigans so he has to recruit a new team, called, derivatively enough, “X-Force,” consisting of characters like Bedlam, Shatterstar, Peter, and Domino (Zazie Beetz).

It’s actually funny how much can’t be in the trailers because of how much it would spoil the fun, so I obviously won’t do that here. Deadpool 2 feels most of the time like a roast of the superhero genre–the X-verse, MCU, and DCEU all get taken to task in almost equal measure–and it must be a ball to write all those gags, that often go so far over the top into gross-out or violent dark humor that you have to laugh at the audacity.

At the same time, though, this movie’s got much more of a sense of brand synergy than the first one had. The joke in the original movie was that it was such a cheap film that only Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead could appear; now they don’t have that problem, so jokes about the movie being cheap don’t play as well. Deadpool is no longer the underdog making good, but the focal point of a very prolific franchise. And he kinda can’t be that.

Recently, Reynolds said he very much doubts there will be a Deadpool 3. Instead, there are likely to be several X-Force movies, which I think will be refreshing. Deadpool works best either when he’s the only crazy element, or when he can be the puckish trickster who can comment on the heaviness of the main storyline. When Deadpool himself gets serious, the movie inches very close to being too saccharine or over-tragic and it doesn’t quite work.

I also have to say the action sequences feel much less special than they did in Deadpool. The first film’s director Tim Miller parted ways with the company and I was jazzed that John Wick co-director David Leitch was tapped to take his place. But none of the sequences have the kind of bravura silliness of the first movie. There’s nothing like the slow-motion SUV fight opening, nor the bridge shootout right afterward. There’s some good moments within the fights, but it overall wasn’t as visually dynamic.

This is not to say you won’t find stuff to enjoy. Deadpool 2 easily got over a dozen big belly laughs out of me. Brolin’s Cable looks great and when he and DP finally get a chance to do more than punch each other, it’s quite nice. Domino is the character I could have watched a ton more of, and I hope her role gets expanded in further films. If you’re a fan of X-Men-universe comics, it’s great to see these characters on the big screen doing what they do best. If the X- films are going to stand out from the MCU, keeping their edge is what they’ll need to do.

Ultimately, while Deadpool 2 is a lot of fun, it doesn’t quite pack the burst of energy the first one did; how could it?! It now feels like the studio is a little too in on the joke at some point, and the whole appear of Deadpool is his outsider status. Reynolds was born to play Deadpool and I hope he keeps doing it forever, but in more of a supporting or ensemble position. DP2 is more of the same humor but in a bigger, more franchise-friendly package.

3 out of 5 reference-smothered burritos

Images: Fox

Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist. You can find his film and TV reviews here. Follow him on Twitter!

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