Movie Review: Deadpool 2

The X-Men franchise is back with Ryan Reynolds in top form

Marvel Comics continues its onslaught of the box office with Deadpool 2, the 11th entry in the X-Men franchise.

Ryan Reynolds returns as the cynical superhero who simply can't die. Unlike most other comic book movies, this one is aimed at a more mature audience, getting an R rating in the US (meaning restricted) and in the Czech Republic an MP-15.

The X-Men films still stand apart from the Avengers and related films, so no clues about what happens after Avengers: Infinity War can be found here.

Deadpool 2 is jammed with cultural references, cynical humor, foul language and brutal graphic violence. This same mix made the first film the second-highest grossing R-rated film ever, after The Passion of the Christ.

People who enjoyed the first installment will be pleased that the sequel if anything improves on the original. Those who don't like graphic violence as the punchline to a joke are strongly cautioned.

The character Deadpool (played by Ryan Reynolds) points out this fact in the opening narration and continues to remind people that they are watching a film for the duration. At other times he looks directly at the camera to point out poor writing and clumsy foreshadowing and points out the CGI effects. Deadpool ever refers to the rival DC comic franchise. The title sequence is a parody of the James Bond films, with Deadpool striking sexy poses.

It is, as postmodern critics would say, a meta-film.

The story starts with a bang with a distraught Deadpool trying to kill himself. Then it goes into flashback to show the events leading up to that.

During a montage of over-the-top violence as Deadpool takes on various bad guys single-handed, he assures viewers that despite the violence and language this is a family film.

The convoluted details of the plot are best left a secret, but there are very few quiet moments as the story moves from one violent set piece to another somewhat hyperactively, with Deadpool making cynical jokes and lightning-paced cultural references as mayhem unfolds around him.

The Czech subtitles often have to change the jokes, as many are very Amerocentric, and would take too many words to explain before the next joke comes.

Deadpool bemoans the script and budget for not including any other famous X-Men from previous films, but some new characters are introduced. The best of these is Domino (Zazie Beetz), a mutant who can manipulate luck. Deadpool argues that it doesn't count as a superpower, but she almost manages to steal the film with it. She can just walk effortlessly through whatever is happening, and be in place to save the situation. She has a captivating screen presence.

Domino also adds to the diversity of the superheroes, being African-American with a large natural hairdo. So far, though, there are no plans for a Domino spin-off film, which is a shame as it could combine the best elements of Wonder Woman and Black Panther, but with a more cynical and knowing edge. The actress is actually half German and was born in Berlin.

Also appearing for the first time is Cable (Josh Brolin), a time-traveling soldier who borrows quite a bit from the Terminator films. He has a hard, humorless edge that makes him a sort of straight man for Deadpool's endless joking. They have a very uneasy rapport.

Brolin also did motion capture and the voice of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, so Marvel is keeping him busy.

A young mutant who plays a big role is Firefist (Julian Dennison), a boy with anger issues and hands that shoot flames. Julian Dennison is from New Zealand and appeared in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, New Zealand's highest grossing film ever. He tries to talk tough, but mostly is a troubled youth in need of guidance. For a child actor, he does fairly well.

Back from the first Deadpool installment is Colossus (Stefan Kapičić), a man with a body made of steel. He continues to try to get Deadpool to be a better person.

There is also a very brief cameo from a very famous actor as another mutant, which is meant to be a surprise.

Non-mutants who turn up include Weasel (T.J. Miller), who provides some comic relief as an inept bartender; and Dopinder (Karan Soni), a stereotypical ethnic taxi driver who is the butt of much abuse.

Leslie Uggams, a famous entertainer from the 1960s and '70s who appeared in the TV series Roots, returns as Deadpool's blind landlord, and has a few humorous scenes playing off of her blindness.

Deadpool 2 delivers more of what made Deadpool a success. It is a rare example of a sequel living up to the original film, and not being just a crude attempt to squeeze out more money.

As with almost all of the Marvel films, there are some scenes during the credits to set up future films. But there is nothing at the very end of the credits, so after the first set of post-film clips it is safe to leave.

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