The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan



Deadpool 2 is a better superhero sequel than Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, and Batman & Robin. I suppose that goes without saying. It's also better than the original Deadpool, which was a pretty good movie in its own right. The filmmakers have kept what worked, scaled back on a few things that grew tiresome, and added elements that were lacking. They've refined the formula, to great effect.

Ryan Reynolds returns as the wisecracking superhero. He has to stop a time traveler named Cable (Josh Brolin) from killing a specially-powered teenage boy, Russell (Hunt for the Wilderpeople's Julian Dennison). Recognizing that he cannot do this alone, Deadpool assembles a team of fellow mutant superheroes, including Domino (Atlanta's Zazie Beetz) and old pal Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand).

Although very funny and filled with cool action sequences, the original Deadpool was a little thin in the story department. It was also a relentless exercise in self-awareness in which the titular character broke the fourth wall every five minutes or so – or at least it felt that way. Deadpool 2 rectifies those issues. No spoilers here, but there's a solid dramatic reason why Cable wants to kill Russell, plus an unexpectedly touching motivation for Deadpool to save him. Screenwriters Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds (yes, that guy again) introduce just enough of a human element into the story to ground things a bit. Doing so keeps the sequel from feeling like an empty retread. There really is something new this time around, something that gets you more actively invested.

This is not to say that they've dropped the comedic anarchy that made the first one tick. It's still on display, and just as uproarious. They've merely chosen to use it more strategically. Interspersing some actual plot and characterization into the film makes the jokes hit harder. There are still many terrific meta gags about superhero movie cliches, as well as the requisite punchlines that allow Deadpool to make fun of the man who plays him. The character's frequent one-liners, which comment on the nature of any situation in which he finds himself, also elicit big laughs. Stick around through the end credits for particularly inspired stuff.

The funniest section of Deadpool 2 is when the character assembles the X-Force, his own defective version of the X-Men. Anyone familiar with the comic books will recognize some of the whacked-out heroes on display, including the acid-puking Zeitgeist (played by It's Bill Skarsgard). There have been so many superhero pictures in the last decade that we really need one that pokes fun at all the others, especially when done as well as it is here.

Director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) amps up the action with some ingeniously-staged set pieces. The best of them is a vehicle chase involving Domino, whose superpower is luck. Every potential calamity somehow ends up being incredibly fortuitous for her, in the most thrilling of ways. You've never seen a sequence like this before, guaranteed. A climactic fight on the grounds of a school is almost as good.

At the center of it all is Ryan Reynolds in a role he was born to play. Deadpool makes great use of his sharp comic skills. You couldn't credibly cast a lot of actors as this character. His delivery mixes sarcasm and charm in just the right measure. The scene-stealer, though, is Zazie Beetz, whose Domino is appealingly funky. The actress provides a calm, yet knowing attitude that contrasts nicely with Reynolds' more overt style. They can just spin her off into her own movie right now.

Deadpool 2 is every ounce as hilarious as its predecessor, but also more exciting. The added touch of heart doesn't get in the way of those qualities. Instead, it provides a stronger framework for all the mayhem audiences loved on the first go-round. In Hollywood, the general rule of sequels is that they need to be “bigger and better.” Truthfully, bigger is not really important; better is. Deadpool 2 satisfyingly raises the franchise's game.

( 1/2 out of four)

Deadpool 2 is rated R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual references and brief drug material. The running time is 1 hour and 59 minutes.

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