Monday, June 4, 2018

Film Review: Deadpool 2

Sexuality/Nudity Offensive
Violence Mature
Vulgarity Mature
Anti-Catholic Philosophy Mature

This movie is not for everyone.  It is over-the-top vulgar and violent in every conceivable way.  But if you can get past all of that, it is an incredibly funny film.

Deadpool  takes place very soon after the first movie.  Wade Wilson aka Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds is using his mutant powers to hunt down and murder bad guys while imagining Dolly Pardon's "9 to 5" playing in the background.  For reasons that occur in the film, Wade becomes a provisional member of the X-men where he encounters Firefist (Julian Dennison), an angry young mutant with a violent and abrasive personality.  As their stories get intertwined, a mercenary from the future named Cable (Josh Brolin) comes back in time to kill Firefist while Wade gets in the way.  Wade must then decide if he cares enough to save the boy from the the future assassin.

While the plot sounds intricate, it serves mostly as a vehicle for the constant streamline of jokes.  Deadpool is inter sting in that it is both superhero film and parody of the genre at the same time.  It tries to have its cake and eat it too by having high-octane action sequences while at the same time making fun of how ridiculous such set-pieces are.

This is the biggest struggle I had with Deadpool 2.  It constantly jumps back and forth between all-out screwball comedy and serious melodrama.  Ideally, the humor should leave you more emotionally vulnerable to the heartbreak and the drama makes the humor a welcome relief from the sadness.  How well does Deadpool 2 strike that balance?

Only moderately.

This would be less of a problem if the movie did not raise the emotional stakes so high.  In order to invest in a character's emotions, you have to take them seriously.  But the movie often pokes fun at itself and the audience for caring too much.  This lets a lot of air out of the laughs and it makes it difficult to keep emotionally engaged.

And yet, sometimes the balancing act works.  There is a surprisingly affective scene towards the end of the movie that is not only visually beautiful, but makes A-ha's "Take on Me" feel like a crushingly cathartic ballad.

And while because of this imbalance some of the jokes fall flat, there are thankfully so many jokes that eventually a great deal of them land.  Director David Leitch makes sure to pack each scene with as many different types of gags as possible: gross-out, witty rejoinders, slapstick, meta-jokes, and every other kind of joke.  The result is that if one joke bombs, chances are there will be another one in a minute that will catch a laugh.

There is a particular running joke regarding X-Men villain Black Tom Cassiday (Jack Kessy) that had me rolling for days afterwards.

Reynolds is at his charismatic best in this film.  He uses all of his comedic and dramatic skills in this movie and it shows.  Even when he is being borderline evil, he still draws you in.  A character like Deadpool is annoying by nature.  It takes an incredibly likeable person like Reynolds to make you want to keep watching his journey.

Brolin as Cable is also outstanding because he plays the part without a single ounce of humor or irony.  He feels like he is playing out a completely different movie and this Bugs Bunny-esque Deadpool is screwing up the narrative.  The juxtaposition of these two makes the humor even funnier.

The rest of the cast is fine.  Favorable additions are the effortlessly cool Domino (Zazie Beetz) and the ultra milquetoast Peter (Rob Delany).  Both characters provide a surprising amount of engagement and humor.  Dennison's Firefist is supposed to come off as an annoying teenager, but his performance gives very little else to make us care about his journey.  Colossus  (Stefan Kepipic) and the now lesbian Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) are back but remain devoid of any depth.  TJ Miller as Weasel and Karan Soni as Dopinder are back as well as Leslie Uggams as Blind Al.  All do their part but don't really stand out.

Ultimately this is the Deadpool and Cable show.  And it is surprisingly ambitious as it tries to take on the question of how to convince someone to not be evil.  The solution is suprisingly Christological especially considering the massive amounts of disgusting jokes found in this movie.

As I wrote at the beginning, this movie is not for everyone.  If you find this kind of humor corrosive to your conscience, then I would avoid it.  The film also has incredibly low view of human sexuality and what it means to the person. And there is one scene of full frontal male nudity that, while subtle, is still gross.

But for me there were enough laughs in this movie to get my money's worth.

image by Yasir72.multan

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