“Deadpool 2” learns from past mistakes, making for an enjoyable, over-the-top thrillride

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

I’ll be honest: Going into “Deadpool 2,” I wasn’t expecting much. I was extremely excited going into the first one two years ago, and was thoroughly disappointed. My expectations of a smart, two-hour, tongue-in-cheek, fourth wall-breaking comedy were almost fulfilled, but it lacked the thoughtfulness I had hoped for. And no, I’m not sitting here as some highly intellectual movie connoisseur to complain about how “Deadpool” was too dumb for me; I simply hold the position that uncreative and obvious jokes that reference Marvel’s cinematic universe and pop culture are still uncreative and obvious. That being said, “Deadpool 2” rose far above my expectations to deliver an experience that left a much stronger impression than its predecessor.

About 45 minutes into the film, I was convinced that it would be a repeat of “Deadpool.” Obligatory references to past Marvel movies, especially the “X-Men” films, received forced chuckles from the audience because light-hearted jokes and banter qualifies as knee-slapping humor, apparently. However, some spectacularly choreographed fight sequences offset the mile-a-minute quips that don’t always land. If there was anything to look forward to with this movie, it was these fights, and boy do they deliver. Unlike most superhero films, where henchmen topple over with the flick of a protagonist’s finger, the fights here are gritty; extras don’t go down until they are executed, usually in the over-the-top fashion that has become a trademark of the series. While most of “Deadpool 2’”s action doesn’t even come close to the geniusly orchestrated symphony of knives and bullets of the “John Wick” series, there are a few moments — especially in an early montage —  that give the series a run for its money.

Adding to the list of preconceived expectations, there’s also the two new members of the cast, Cable (Josh Brolin) and Domino (Zazie Beetz), who shake things up. To address the big looming question for fans of the older comics: Yes, Cable is just as badass as he was when he rescued Scott and Jean from Stryfe in 90’s “X-Force.” As for Domino, whom I was never the biggest fan of, her character is executed well and she kicks her fair share of ass; her’s isn’t the most faithful adaptation, but it’s unique enough and establishes her as a strong and likeable character nonetheless.

However, the first half of “Deadpool 2” follows in the footsteps of its predecessor in that the film’s appeal to my comic book fanboy side just wasn’t enough to create a truly enjoyable experience when I simply felt uninvested in anything that was happening on screen. Although I will give “Deadpool 2” credit, it’s not for lack of trying. Not only does it open with a surprisingly emotional setup, but by the 30 minute mark, I cared about Wade Wilson’s character more than I ever did for the entirety of the first movie. We see the return of some old faces, namely Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), but they don’t amount to much, since they’re primarily used as setup for the 3rd act. This is a shame because both of these character’s interactions with Wade are oozing with chemistry, but it feels like we don’t get enough of either of them. But despite this shaky start, the film slowly revs up and truly surpasses, “Deadpool” in its second half.

At the one-hour point, it’s as if a switch is flipped when the film goes full throttle. Not only does the plot gain a clear sense of direction that the audience can get behind, but it wastes no time getting straight into the action. A new antagonist is added to the mix who injects some much needed life into the narrative and transforms the third act into something leagues above what other superhero flicks have had to offer in the past five years. While it still follows the same formula of what we’ve come to expect from a Marvel movie finale, it’s executed just uniquely enough that it feels fresh. This is mostly due in part to the primary object of our protagonists which, without delving too deeply into spoilers, rather than stopping the bad guy, is to save the antagonist from themselves. This is not even to mention that one of the final exchanges in the film between Wade and Colossus was easily the best joke in the entire film.

And finally, there’s the end credits scene. In tradition with every Marvel movie since “Iron Man,” “Deadpool 2” has a small scene that follows its main credits. As someone who absolutely despises the practice of making an audience sit through five to ten minutes of credits for what always boils down to vague foreshadowing of a sequel (that arguably either belongs on the special features of some collector’s edition DVD or in the actual film before the credits roll), I can say with full confidence that “Deadpool 2’”s end credits scene is well worth the wait.

Verdict: “Deadpool 2” has its share of issues, but the final product delivers a subversion of expectations that will be enjoyable to fans of the first film and newcomers alike.

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