'Deadpool 2' is dead on arrival

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 5:40pm

Deadpool 2

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20th Century Fox

If Deadpool were to watch “Deadpool 2,” he would likely have a number of issues with it. His first might be why the film kills off the impetus for the first film’s entire plot in the first ten minutes. Another would be why a comedy movie has so many scenes devoid of comedy. He might criticize the use of a little kid as a crutch, or poke fun at the fact that almost every plot point in the movie has been used in previous “X-Men” films.  Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds, “Mississippi Grind”), might have an issue with all of these things, or he might not care at all. It’s hard to say, just like it’s hard to say if the writers of “Deadpool 2” (a group which includes Reynolds) cared at all. Did they just throw a bunch of ideas at the wall and figure no one would care because it’s Deadpool? Did they seek to make the sequel to the highest grossing R-rated comedy ever made serious in order to justify its existence? Again, it’s not clear. What is clear is that this sequel to the 2016 breakout is far from the game-changer its predecessor was.

In “Deadpool 2,” there's simultaneously a lot and nothing at all going on. The plot revolves around Deadpool’s attempts to prevent the death of a kid at the hands of Josh Brolin’s (“Avengers: Infinity War”) Cable while reordering himself after the death of a loved one. If this kid is allowed to make his first kill, he will destroy the future. It’s the exact same plot as “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” For a character as self-referential as Deadpool, it’s odd that the film never acknowledges such a blatant connection. The plot isn’t the biggest problem with this movie though, that would be the humor. Simply put, the film is not funny. Or at least, it’s not funny enough.  Too much of the film relies on ham-fisted drama that doesn’t fully work. Deadpool is a comedian first and foremost. When he starts to take himself too seriously, the entire enterprise begins to fall apart. “Deadpool” was the perfect example of why superheroes don’t always have to be taken seriously, like “Batman v. Superman,” but at times the sequel feels like it doesn’t understand what made the first one great.

The performances are fine for the most part. Reynolds is again great in the titular role, although his comedic chops aren’t often given enough room to shine. Brolin is serviceable as the boring Cable, but his recent turn as Thanos in “Infinity War” causes this performance to come off as somewhat flat in comparison. Cable isn’t given enough to do to justify the hoopla surrounding his appearance in the movie, and fans of the comics will find the character hard to recognize. Everyone else barely registers.

“Deadpool 2” makes no pretenses about the fact that it is merely a set-up for an “X-Force” movie coming down the line. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but these kinds of sequels are the exact sort of banality the original “Deadpool” was poking in the eye. “Deadpool 2” isn’t a bad movie; it’s just an exceedingly mediocre one. For a franchise that rides or dies on its ability to be different and original, “Deadpool 2” just feels like more of the same.