Skip to main content

Luck isn’t a superpower... And it isn't cinematic!

Deadpool 2
(2018)

(SPOILERS) Perhaps it’s because I was lukewarm on the original, but Deadpool 2 mercifully disproves the typical consequence of the "more is more" approach to making a sequel. By rights, it should plummet into the pitfall of ever more excess to diminishing returns, yet for the most part it doesn't.  Maybe that’s in part due to it still being a relatively modest undertaking, budget-wise, and also a result of being very self-aware – like duh, you might say, that’s its raison d'être – of its own positioning and expectation as a sequel; it resolutely fails to teeter over the precipice of burn out or insufferable smugness. It helps that it's frequently very funny – for the most part not in the exhaustingly repetitive fashion of its predecessor – but I think the key ingredient is that it finds sufficient room in its mirthful melee for plot and character, in order to proffer tone and contrast.


You can colour me surprised on that score, as I didn’t think the series was up to engaging on a level much beyond Naked Gun gag-ery. Which is fine up to a point – the point where its juvenile tendencies become simply tiresome – but aside from the undoubted chemistry between Monica Baccarin and Ryan Reynolds – albeit, their actual plotline was fairly leaden –  the first film didn’t seem to leave itself much of anywhere left to go; it was diminishing returns, story-wise, once Deadpool became Deadpool. I noted of that picture that I probably wasn’t the target audience; judging by the attendees' predominant ages, I wasn't the target for this one either, but I felt much more at home with the proceedings. I suspect that's because Deadpool 2 is less just one thing, and never seems to content to rest on its laurels and thus lose its edge or inventiveness; it's snappy and quickfire, not only in gags but also with plotting.


That plot is no work of art, but it meshes its derivate qualities in an engagingly forward-moving manner, cutely aware that Cable (a perfectly deadpan Josh Brolin, complete with an obligatory Thanos line aimed squarely his way) is a Terminator-rip-off and following the time-travel tinkering scenario to its (il-)logical conclusion in a mid-credits-sequence to end all pre-, mid-, and post-credits sequences (of which more shortly). But, perhaps surprisingly, not riffing on the old Grandfather Paradox to humorous ends (a going-back-to-kill-baby-Hitler scene was cut). Cable’s desire to put an end to Russell/Firefist – Julian Dennison proving that, as with The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, while his range is limited, his rapport with a more experienced co-star goes some way to making up the difference – for future crimes committed propels much of the action. As with its predecessor, this is refreshingly not about the usual apocalyptic stakes (even if Cable arrives from a wrecked world), much of the action focussing on Deadpool trying to bust Russell out of the captivity before Cable busts him.


And that comes after a first-rate first act in which the makers get away with fridging Baccarin's Vanessa – thanks to that revitalising mid-end-credits sequence – and thus providing Wade with necessary motivation, or lack thereof, before becoming refocussed on "family". If the latter element is about as unconvincing as Deadpool announces it to be (despite his being sincere but not really but really), the tonal shifts in losing her play remarkably well. The touchstone here is other superhero sequels divesting their hero of his mojo (Superman IIIron Man 2), this one accompanied by the added unwholesome spin of rekindling Wade's cancer while he's incarcerated. 


The movie's peak beats are naturally the funny ones, though, reaching their zenith with Deadpool gathering together X-Force and promptly seeing them obliterated through sheer ineptitude. His crew are the raggediest bunch of superheroes since Mystery Men, the pride of their leaping into action instantly undercut by a succession of parachuting immolations. 


There's an embarrassment of riches here, with Terry Crewes as the only instantly recognisable face doing nothing of note with his legit super skill and Lewis Tan as the most generically super-looking hero getting bluntly minced by a helicopter (which might have pleased his creator Rob Liefield, upset by the coming out of his comic strip incarnation), Bill "Pennywise" Skarsgard's Zeitgeist (asked if he has his finger on the pulse of society, he reductively replies, “No, I spit acidic vomit”) and Telford Porter/Vanisher, entirely invisible – making for a highly amusing skydiving image – until he's fried by power lines and revealed as Brad Pitt. 


And Peter (Rob Delaney) entirely normal and comfortably moustached, and an instant hit with Deadpool, unceremoniously eaten away by Zeitgeist as the latter succumbs to a grindler (Deadpool saves Peter during the credits sequence, so presumably said fuck it to the remaining X-dead). Domino survives entirely, with an effecitvely-sustained running motif based on her superskill of luck (Deadpool being initially disbelieving of its status as a superpower), although in days to come, I can see more column inches devoted to Zazie Beetz’s unfettered underarm hair than her character's prowess.


Only the end credits' succession of sight gags can equal this, including Deadpool killing off his X-Men Origins: Wolverine self (at the outset, he’s playing with a run-through Logan diorama) and assassinating Ryan Reynolds as he rejoices over receipt of the Green Lantern screenplay. There's the usual mixture of gross-out gags (inventive ways to discover how Wade pieces himself back together after decapitation and dismemberment lead to an unnerving encounter with his newly-formed baby legs and balls) and pop culture references (The Human CentipedeThe Proposition, "Martha", and who’d have thought intoning "I’m Batman" in a gravelly voice could still elicit a chortle?) and cameos (most of the First Class-era X-Men hiding behind a door in the Xavier Mansion). Perhaps the biggest surprise, given the prominent placing of Juggernaut, is that there's nary a derisive swipe at Vinnie Jones. Perhaps Ryan was chicken in a way he wasn't of Becks.


Of course, Reynolds, now garnering a co-writer credit, simply owns the material, eking himself out a level of stardom he could never have hoped for without the mask (what was it, a decade and a half trying but singularly failing?) Brolin knows just how to pitch his response, particularly in respect of charges of prejudice ("You killed Black Tom, you racist son of a bitch!") 


The supporting cast, including returnees, are good value; Negasonic (Brianna Hildebrand) arrives with an amusingly effervescent girlfriend (Shiori Kutsuna), Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) is still the butt (sometimes literally) of Deadpool's jokes, Weasel is grossly funny (whatever TJ Miller may have done), and Blind Al (Leslie Uggams) and Dopinder/"Brown Panther" (Karan Soni), tread a dedicated line in stereotypical riffs. Only really Eddie Marsan gets a raw deal, assigned an entirely generic villain. Probably got paid well for it, though.


The biggest star of Deadpool 2 may be David Leitch though. Atomic Blonde received far more brickbats than it deserved – fortunately not preventing the announcement of a sequel –  perhaps due to outsized expectations, and those who appreciated his knack for giddy laughs amid the superbly-executed action (likewise in John Wick) won't be surprised that he's so adept here. I admit to having thought he'd be wasted on this one (although I'm much less sure that will be the case with the Hobbs & Shaw movie), but I’m happy to report he adds immensely to the proceedings. Tim Miller may seem to have been offered the glittering prize of a Cameron-sanctioned Terminator 6, but that could well be a kiss of death, doing similar things to his career as Alan Taylor’s with Genisys; Leitch far outguns him stylistically, and his martialling of the choreographic – even, or perhaps especially, when encumbered by over-sprayed CGI – is never less than magisterial. 


Reynolds has, probably rightly, said he can't see where Deadpool can go after this, suggesting he'll show up in Drew Goddard’s X-Force (so more of a Lector or Captain Jack in their first instances?) before there’s a whiff of a Deadpool 3. But by then, the Mouse House may own him lock and stock, and who knows how that will skew his barrel. If Deadpool 2 doesn’t outgun its predecessor at the box office, it will probably only be down to his having been positioned amid an overstuffed summer; you won't – or shouldn't – exit the picture fatigued or of the opinion he doesn't have another innings in him.



 Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Popular posts from this blog

You were this amazing occidental samurai.

Ricochet (1991) (SPOILERS) You have to wonder at Denzel Washington’s agent at this point in the actor’s career. He’d recently won his first Oscar for Glory , yet followed it with less-than-glorious heart-transplant ghost comedy Heart Condition (Bob Hoskins’ racist cop receives Washington’s dead lawyer’s ticker; a recipe for hijinks!) Not long after, he dipped his tentative toe in the action arena with this Joel Silver production; Denzel has made his share of action fare since, of course, most of it serviceable if unremarkable, but none of it comes near to delivering the schlocky excesses of Ricochet , a movie at once ingenious and risible in its plot permutations, performances and production profligacy.

The Krishna died of a broken finger? I mean, is that a homicide?

Miami Blues (1990) (SPOILERS) If the ‘90s crime movie formally set out its stall in 1992 with Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs , another movie very quietly got in there first at the beginning of the decade. Miami Blues picked up admiring reviews but went otherwise unnoticed on release, and even now remains under-recognised. The tale of “blithe psychopath” Federick J. Frenger, Jr., the girl whose heart he breaks and the detetive sergeant on his trail, director George Armitage’s adaptation of Charles Willeford’s novel wears a pitch black sense of humour and manages the difficult juggling act of being genuinely touching with it. It’s a little gem of a movie, perfectly formed and concisely told, one that more than deserves to rub shoulders with the better-known entries in its genre. One of the defining characteristics of Willeford’s work, it has been suggested , is that it doesn’t really fit into the crime genre; he comes from an angle of character rather than plot or h

Well, something’s broke on your daddy’s spaceship.

Apollo 13 (1995) (SPOILERS) The NASA propaganda movie to end all NASA propaganda movies. Their original conception of the perilous Apollo 13 mission deserves due credit in itself; what better way to bolster waning interest in slightly naff perambulations around a TV studio than to manufacture a crisis event, one emphasising the absurd fragility of the alleged non-terrestrial excursions and the indomitable force that is “science” in achieving them? Apollo 13 the lunar mission was tailor made for Apollo 13 the movie version – make believe the make-believe – and who could have been better to lead this fantasy ride than Guantanamo Hanks at his all-American popularity peak?

The Illumi-what-i?

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) (SPOILERS) In which Sam Raimi proves that he can stand proudly with the best – or worst – of them as a good little foot soldier of the woke apocalypse. You’d expect the wilfully anarchic – and Republican – Raimi to choke on the woke, but instead, he’s sucked it up, grinned and bore it. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is so slavishly a production-line Marvel movie, both in plotting and character, and in nu-Feige progressive sensibilities, there was no chance of Sam staggering out from beneath its suffocating demands with anything more than a few scraps of stylistic flourish intact.

People still talk about Pandapocalypse 2002.

Turning Red (2022) (SPOILERS) Those wags at Pixar, eh? Yes, the most – actually, the only – impressive thing about Turning Red is the four-tiered wordplay of its title. Thirteen-year-old Mei (Rosalie Chiang) finds herself turning into a large red panda at emotive moments. She is also, simultaneously, riding the crimson wave for the first time. Further, as a teenager, she characteristically suffers from acute embarrassment (mostly due to the actions of her domineering mother Ming Lee, voiced by Sandra Oh). And finally, of course, Turning Red can be seen diligently spreading communist doctrine left, right and centre. To any political sensibility tuning in to Disney+, basically (so ones with either considerable or zero resistance to woke). Take a guess which of these isn’t getting press in reference to the movie? And by a process of elimination is probably what it it’s really about (you know in the same way most Pixars, as far back as Toy Story and Monsters, Inc . can be given an insi

No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

The Matrix  (1999) (SPOILERS) Twenty years on, and the articles are on the defining nature of The Matrix are piling up, most of them touching on how its world has become a reality, or maybe always was one. At the time, its premise was engaging enough, but it was the sum total of the package that cast a spell – the bullet time, the fashions, the soundtrack, the comic book-as-live-action framing and styling – not to mention it being probably the first movie to embrace and reflect the burgeoning Internet ( Hackers doesn’t really count), and subsequently to really ride the crest of the DVD boom wave. And now? Now it’s still really, really good.

Okay, just jump right into my nightmare, the water is warm.

Jerry Maguire  (1996) (SPOILERS) I didn’t much like Jerry Maguire at the time, which I suspect is intrinsically linked to the fact that I didn’t much like Tom Cruise at the time. I’m still not really a massive fan of either, but the latter at least made an effort to rein in his most irksome traits subsequently. Jerry Maguire , however, finds him drawing on the same “bag of tricks” that mystifyingly transfixed his fan base a decade before in Top Gun . Bonnie Hunt suggested the toughest part of the role was “ playing a character that doesn’t like Tom Cruise ”. I wouldn’t have had that problem. I do not like Tom and Jerry.

I only know what I’ve been programmed to believe. But, of course, the same goes for you.

Raised by Wolves Season One (SPOILERS) Ridley Scott’s latest transhumanist tract is so stuffed with required lore, markers and programming, it’s a miracle it manages to tell a half-engaging story along the way. Aaron Guzikowski ( Prisoners ) is the credited creator, but it has the Ridders stamp of dour dystopia all over it, complete with Darius Wolski ( Prometheus ) cinematography setting the tone. Which means bleak grey skies, augmented by South Africa this time, rather than Iceland. Raised by Wolves is a reliable mix of wacko twist plotting and clumsy, slack-jawed messaging; like the Alien prequels, it will surely never be seen through to a conclusion, but as an agenda platform it’s never less than engaging (and also frequently, for the same reasons, exasperating).

You’re like a human mummy!

The Lost City (2022) (SPOILERS) Perhaps the most distressing part of The Lost City , a Romancing the Stone riff that appears to have been packaged by the Hollywood equivalent of a processed cheese plant lacking its primary ingredient (that would be additives), is the possibility that Daniel Radcliffe is the only viable actor left standing in Tinseltown. That’s if the suggestions at least two of the performers here – Sandra Bullock and Brad Pitt – are deep faked in some way, shape or form, and the other name – Channing Tatum – is serving hard atonement time. If the latter’s choices generally weren’t so abysmal and his talent in arears, I’d assume that was the only explanation for him showing up in this dreck.

You tampered with the universe, my friend.

The Music of Chance (1993) (SPOILERS) You won’t find many adaptations of Paul Auster’s novels. Original screenplays, yes, a couple of which he has directed himself. Terry Gilliam has occasionally mentioned Mr. Vertigo as in development. It was in development in 1995 too, when Philip Haas and Auster intended to bring it to the screen. Which means Auster presumably approved of Haas’ work on The Music of Chance (he also cameos). That would be understandable, as it makes for a fine, ambiguous movie, pregnant with meaning yet offering no unequivocal answers, and one that makes several key departures from the book yet crucially maintains a mesmerising, slow-burn lure.