2016's 'Deadpool' was one of the more surprising and refreshing entries in the superhero genre in recent years. Ryan Reynolds and director Tim Miller managed to tell the well-worn origin story of a comic book character in a non-traditional studio blockbuster. It was filled with the pop culture references, fourth wall breaks, profanity and over-the-top violence that many movie studios tend to shy away from when big budgets are involved. But the risk paid off. 'Deadpool' became the second highest grossing R-rated film in the U.S., and when a film is that successful, a sequel is right around the corner.
Two years and more than a dozen superhero films later, 'Deadpool 2' acknowledges it's own success and does what many Hollywood sequels do- it doubles down on nearly everything that worked in the first. It's got a bigger budget, which means bigger action set pieces, a more complex narrative, and the addition of many new characters. Reynolds remains pitch-perfect as Deadpool, a sarcastic motor-mouth that somehow manages to be crass and vulgar but charming and endearing. The first film centered on Wade Wilson's relationship with his girlfriend Vanessa, the tragic turn his life took when he was diagnosed with cancer, and his decision to suit up as Deadpool on his quest for revenge. In Deadpool 2, the merc with a mouth is tasked with protecting a young mutant from the time traveling soldier Cable, played by Josh Brolin.
David Leitch, one half of the directing duo behind John Wick, takes over for Tim Miller as director. Initially I was worried that the humor might take a backseat to the action as Leitch's recent filmography which includes Atomic Blonde, is obviously action-heavy, but also a bit self-serious. But that is not the case. 'Deadpool 2' is genuinely hilarious at times. It's definitely one of the better superhero sequels, but it also manages to be one of the very few successful comedy sequels.
The filmmakers throw every possible joke they can at the audience, most of which land. Due to the characterization of Deadpool in the comics and original movie, Reynolds and company relish in the meta pop culture commentary the character can provide like no other. They make fun of superhero tropes, cinematic universes, Ryan Reynolds- the actor, even the plot itself when it gets a bit clumsy or too convenient. They subvert expectations as often as they can by setting the audience up for one thing just to pull the rug out from under us all for a laugh.
'Deadpool 2,' like its predecessor, earns its R-rating. It's a bloody, profane, and immature blast that is so not for everyone, but it had me smiling nearly the entire runtime. The action is crisp, clear and expertly staged. The jokes hit far more often than they miss. And somehow it manages to wear its heart on its sleeve, without coming off as melodramatic. The plot is a bit messy and it doesn't seem quite as streamlined or focused as the first, but as far as comedy sequels go- this is a must see for fans of the original. Oh, and stay for the mid-credits scene because it may be one of the funniest I've ever seen. I give 'Deadpool 2' a B+