‘Deadpool 2’ — a nearly perfect movie
Deadpool 2 (Rated C)
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, Morena Baccarin
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Dwight’s rating: 3.5 stars
Let there be no doubt about it ever again: You can indeed teach an old dog new tricks.
The most tired, hackneyed, out-of-tricks dog of all cinematic genres — the comic book-based super-hero action/adventure film — is on a shockingly impressive roll, and behaving more like a new puppy filled with life and wonderment.
We’ve had more than a decade of an incessant parade of excuses to pile a boatload of actors into often excessively long and loud explosion festivals, bursting with overused and abused computer-generated imagery (CGI), and with weak and ridiculous villains usually hell-bent on destroying entire universes.
But like a superhero appearing in the skies at the 11th hour, in just the last few years we’ve been blessed with some genre-defining and redefining gems.
In fact, two of the best movies of all of 2017 were comic book-based: the Oscar-nominated “Logan” (Best Adapted Screenplay —a first for the genre) and the refreshing “Spider-Man: Homecoming”. They both marked important resets for their franchises, with the former providing star Hugh Jackman with his best performance in a feature film ever in life, and the latter allowing new star Tom Holland to do the unthinkable: make people forget that Tobey Maguire was ever the web-slinger. (Some other easily impressed people will say I should add last year’s “Wonder Woman” to the list. But, um… no thanks!)
However, it seems 2017 was not a fluke. And less than halfway through 2018, the two very best movies so far are both comic book-based superhero movies.
“Black Panther”, the year’s best flick to date, makes a case for best superhero flick of all time, and should be considered among the best action movies ever as well.
And now comes “Deadpool 2” — a nearly perfect movie!
Yes, you read that right. It’s even better than its outstanding and surprising predecessor from two years ago, and offers something for everyone.
Ryan Reynolds is back as wisecracking mercenary Deadpool. He meets Russell, an angry teenage mutant who lives at an orphanage. When Russell becomes the target of Cable — a genetically enhanced soldier from the future — Deadpool realizes that he’ll need some help saving the boy from such a superior enemy. He soon joins forces with Bedlam, Shatterstar, Domino and other powerful mutants to protect young Russell from Cable and his advanced weaponry.
Examined on all three of its missions — comedy/action/adventure — “Deadpool 2” excels at each level.
As a comedy, it’s the funniest of the year so far, and one of the funniest in many years. It’s not quite as raunchy as the original (which was practically X-rated). But almost every line is a hoot. If you’re up-to-date on pop culture, this is a gold mine, and incredibly in tune with the zeitgeist (they actually make a joke along these lines as well).
The extreme self-awareness that was a hallmark of the original returns here, but it feels less impertinent and sarcastic, and much more like good-natured ribbing.
One would think this always-on-full-boil-cheekiness would wear thin by the end of its two hours. But no; it’s simply amazingly funny from beginning to end — from the opening scenes and opening credits, straight through to the end credits! Don’t leave until the very end.
Much of the credit must go to star Ryan Reynolds, with his unbelievable energy and likability. His every utterance is a gift that keeps on giving, and his delivery is perfect. One would probably need to watch more than once to really grasp all the many golden nuggets sprinkled throughout the picture. And while the supporting cast is fantastic, especially Josh Brolin — back as a villain again, after appearing as another scene-stealing villain in this year’s third best film so far, “Avengers: Infinity War” — this is certainly Reynolds’ show.
Reynolds, as Deadpool, actually jokes about how he hopes “the Academy” is paying attention. But that’s no laughing matter. Reynolds deserves an Oscar nomination — much in the way Johnny Depp earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for the original “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”. Far lesser performances have been nominated before.
At the very least, Reynolds and the film itself would deserve Golden Globe nominations, as they both did with the original. Reynolds is also credited as one of the screenwriters as well (along with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who both wrote the original “Deadpool”).
On the action and adventure front, “Deadpool 2” is packed to the gills. And coming from Director David Leitch, who was behind last year’s “Atomic Blonde” and co-directed the original “John Wick”, that’s not surprising.
But, you say, you “don’t like action movies”, or “don’t like comic book/super-hero movies”? Save it! “Deadpool 2” at once mocks the most ridiculous aspects of modern action films, and yet celebrates what there is to love about them. It’s the best of all worlds.
On top of all of that, it’s spectacularly romantic and shockingly family-oriented and sentimental. It also appears to be part of what one could hope is a new trend of more relatable superhero dilemmas and more realistic “villains”.
It joins “Black Panther”, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and, to a lesser extent, “Logan” as featuring people hurting from family issues and real-world problems. That these new-age superhero movies can satisfy on so many levels is quite something.
Quite possibly the only concern with “Deadpool 2” would be how its extreme self-awareness and ultra-contemporary relevance will hold up in a couple of decades, when many of the references will likely be lost on newer generations of audiences.
That’s if we’re still here on this planet and not destroyed by some crazy super-villain bent on wreaking havoc on this and every other universe, as some of those old-school, tricked-out superhero comic book-based movies would have us believe is imminent.
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.