By Matt Lau & John Mulderig
After the smash hit success of the original 2016 Deadpool movie, hopes are high for the sequel which again stars Ryan Reynolds as the wisecracking mercenary.
Deadpool 2 (Fox), directed by David Leitch, delivers on its promise of violent action with a side of foul-mouthed sarcasm. Lost amid the mayhem is some potentially interesting ethical material as well as a few genuinely funny one-liners.
This time out, the titular smart aleck has to cope not only with the horrible disfigurement he suffered in the first movie, but with guilt and loss.
During a brief visit to the film’s cosily domestic version of the afterlife, Deadpool is advised by a recently lost loved one to focus on where his heart is placed on a moral level.
Unable to start a family of his own, Deadpool is drawn to helping Russell aka Firefist (Julian Dennison), a young flame-casting mutant, turn his life around.
Deadpool makes it his mission to protect Firefist from Cable (Josh Brolin) – the biological son of Cyclops and Jean Grey – a time-travelling bionic warrior on a mission of his own.
Fresh from his mega appearance as Thanos in fellow Marvel film Avengers: Infinity War, Brolin does an immense job of adding nuance to a character whose revengeful motivation for wanting to kill Firefist derives from a traumatic experience that occurred in the future.
While he was very much a lone ranger – by choice – in the first film, the antihero Deadpool learns to become a team player as he forms the team X-Force; with mutants such as Domino (Zazie Beets), Bedlam (Terry Crews) and Vanisher (Brad Pitt).
Jam-packed with “Easter Eggs”, cameo appearances, and an abundance of pop culture references, Deadpool 2 will live long in the memory of comic-book fans and movie buffs alike.
However, Reynolds and his fellow screenwriters, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (who together penned the first movie), indulge in too many inside jokes likely to leave all but diehard genre fans out in the cold.
The ongoing gags can be a little overwhelming for some and the writers need to be careful not to fall in the spoof category with the likes of Airplane! and the Scary Movie franchise.
What Deadpool 2 does well – on a “superhero movie” level – is to depict the character at his wits’ end, a situation that lacked in the first film.
Deadpool is indestructible, or is he?
Deadpool 2 has topped its prequel with a better plot, as the protagonist is placed in a “chips are down” scenario, as Deadpool’s invincibility is challenged by his apparent Achilles’ heel.
Away from the parody side of the movie, the action scenes are gripping and up there with any superhero film with its superb use of CGI effects and dynamic camera angles.
While charting Deadpool’s love-inspired efforts to become a better person and prove himself worthy of entering the movie’s depiction of heaven, the script also explores such moral issues as the acceptability of revenge and the legitimacy of taking out a villain.
It also illustrates how evil can beget evil since Firefist’s future crime spree, which Deadpool eventually tries to prevent, will come about as a result of the torture he endured at the hands of the unnamed headmaster (Eddie Marsan) of a sort of reform school for youthful mutants.
The fact that this sadist uses biblical-sounding phraseology reveals one aspect of the picture’s ambiguous outlook on faith.
As noted, Deadpool 2 does assert the existence of a life after death where loved ones are reunited. And, as he journeys toward his own climactic act of self-sacrifice, Deadpool, asked to cite an example of total altruism, replies simply, “Jesus Christ”.
Jokes about the fact that the previous movie came close to equalling the box-office success of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ as well as repeated gags about Deadpool claiming divinity for himself fall to the other side of the ledger, however, rounding out the ambivalence.
It’s a Marvel cinematic experience, so don’t forget to stick around for the post-credit scenes.
The film contains pervasive gory violence, drug use, a lesbian theme, a bizarre scene of exhibitionism, brief rear male nudity, some irreverent humour and a vaguely anti-religious tone, about a dozen uses of profanity, at least one milder oath, constant rough and crude language and obscene gestures.
The Catholic News Service classification is O – morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R – restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.