The best sequels, whether superhero or otherwise, are those ones that bring a measure of control with them. Sure, the audience wants to see things bigger and better than they did in the origin tale but it’s all about whether the filmmakers can do so in the structure of its story. The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 2 and The Winter Soldier are some of the most recent sequels featuring heroic crusaders that have maintained their levels of compelling narratives and characters from before whilst crafting an exciting new one that allows for thing to be bigger and better – there are none so fickle as the superhero fanbase and such things can become “been there, done it” quite quickly in this world. The decision to replace Tim Miller with David Leitch in the director’s chair for Part Deux was a sign that the notches were certainly being cranked up to 11 and indeed the action is noticably bigger and slicker (and, of course, more expensive) but Deadpool 2 is, for the most part, a case of bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.
The storyline goes as such – edging closer to becoming an X-Man but not quite, Deadpool soon becomes embroiled with a fellow Mutant (Hunt For The Wilderpeople’s breakout star Julian Dennison) and a time-travelling cyborg named Cable (Brolin) and mayhem of various degrees of magnitude ensues once the “derivatively” named X-Force their debut. But rather than delve a little deeper into those things that we didn’t get in the first endeavour, we get more of everything else and while it’s supremely entertaining for large parts everything in between the jokes and the explosions feels flimsy.
Leitch, though, deserves huge credit for delivering on what he was brought on for and that’s to bring his trademark energy and captivating visuals to the fore which he does in spades. Indeed many will get a great kick out of a stand-out sequence featuring all the major players that is both frenetic and controlled with the camera, lensed by Jonathan Sela, whipping in and around the action at breakneck speed.
That said, this is Deadpool after all and the funnies do come thick and while some hit better than others (many DC/Marvel/superhero quips are the highlights as is the closing credits sequence which tops anything that has come before it anywhere) there’s plenty to chew on for the advocates with Reynolds and the superb show-stealing Zazie Beetz as Domino the biggest triumphs. Then there’s Brolin’s Terminator-like newcomer who while packing a literal punch and going toe-to-toe with those around him doesn’t quite pay off with the same satisfaction as his fellow debutante although there’s hopefully a lot more to offer in the follow-ups.
The old saying goes “well, if you liked the first one, you’ll love the sequel” and it’s so true with Deadpool 2 as it returns to do more of what it does best but those wanting some a more rounded, mythology-exploring follow-up might leave a little disappointed. But when all is said and done, the Merc with the Mouth’s return is an unabashedly, shamefully entertaining rollercoaster romp that has some brilliant moments while never quite feeling like a wholly satisfying whole.