In which Deadpool gets serious.
Whaaaat? Say it ain’t so.
In “Deadpool 2,” he confronts issues of mortality and loss. He considers becoming a responsible individual, even — Gasp! — starting a family. He contemplates, then commits, suicide. Or tries to. Hard to pull off when you’re immortal.
He will attempt a noble act of self-sacrifice to save the life of another.
The goal: Make his life meaningful.
To which I say, “Bah!”
You want serious and meaningful? Then go hang out with the “X-Men.” They’re Angst-R-Us, that crowd.
“Deadpool’s” superhero character, fearlessly established in the 2016 Marvel megahit, is a trickster, a joker, a potty-mouthed hyperviolent wise guy. Irreverent and unapologetically irredeemable. And funny as all get-out.
Those qualities are still there in “Deadpool 2,” which is sporadically hilarious. Great gusts of guffaws are unleashed from time to time. But they co-exist uneasily with the more sober-sided stuff.
You get the impression that Ryan Reynolds — who spent years shepherding the first movie to the big screen as producer and star, and hit a jackpot of a size he could not possibly have imagined — might have been a little intimidated by that success.
The first movie was a labor of love. The follow-up has a feeling of being obligatory. There had to be a sequel, but how to make it as fresh and daring as the original? Couldn’t be done. This one is bigger but not necessarily better.
Reynolds is still the spark plug and by far the best thing in it. His wit is quick and his dialogue (he’s credited as co-writer) is salty, snarky and sardonic as always. Commenting on the creation of a super group Deadpool foresees in his future, he says, “We need them tough, morally flexible and young enough to carry a franchise for 10 to 12 years.”
Behold the iron law of Hollywood tent poles.
Pop culture in-jokes are rife throughout: Responding to villain Cable (Josh Brolin) growling, “You're no hero. You're just a clown, dressed up like a sex toy,” Deadpool declares, “So dark. You sure you're not from the DC universe?”
Not to mention the moment when he tells Cable to “pump the hate brakes, Thanos,” acknowledging Brolin’s career-defining role in the “Avengers” movies.
Cable arrives from the future, like a cousin of the Terminator, to wreak havoc in the present as he tries to kill a mutant kid (Julian Dennison) whose super power is the ability to shoot flames from his hands.
To fend off the seeming fiend, Deadpool forms a band called X-Force. “Derivative,” another character laconically comments. Though most of its members are joltingly short-lived, surviving is a woman named Domino, played by Zazie Beetz with a droll cheeriness that makes her the most memorable new character in the movie.
The original “Deadpool” caught lightning in a bottle. The sequel sparks only intermittently.
☆☆1/2 stars out of 4
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, Morena Baccarin, Andre Tricoteux, Karan Soni, Julian Dennison
Director: David Leitch
Running time: 2 hours
Rated: Violence, gore, language, drug use, some sexuality