Given his history as a stunt performer and coordinator for more than 20 years prior to his directorial debut with Atomic Blonde, David Leitch seems a reasonable enough choice as director given that the Deadpool 2 is filled to the brim with elaborate stunts and CGI-fuelled action sequences. In fact, there is nothing in this latest Marvel sequel that should come as a surprise to anybody who has seen the original. It is two hours of Ryan Reynolds wisecracking his way through a series of confrontations with all manner of bad guys; confrontations that don’t necessarily induce a lot of suspense when you know that the protagonist cannot die. Despite being shot multiple times and even chopped in half at one stage, Deadpool fights on, so we need to be invested enough in the other characters to have any interest in how things might pan out. The character about whom we are supposed to care most is Russell/Firefist, played by Hunt for the Wilderpeople breakout Julian Dennison, a young mutant at loggerheads with his powers and on the verge of unleashing all manner of mayhem on a society from which he feels estranged.
Reeling from the death of his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), Deadpool (aka Wade Wilson) takes it upon himself to save Russell from the clutches of Cable (Josh Brolin), a human-cyborg amalgam from the future seeking revenge on Firefist for a an act of violence he will go on to commit if Deadpool is unable to steer the angry young Kiwi down a path of rectitude rather than the retribution he seeks for the treatment he has received at the mutant academy he attends, a school which presents more as the mutant equivalent of a centre for gay conversion therapy than it does an educational facility. When Deadpool first encounters Russell, he is in the midst of stand-off with police and the Headmaster (Eddie Marsan) of the academy, a showdown that results in him being imprisoned which, of course, sets the scene for an elaborate breakout mission.
When Deadpool visits the X-Mansion in search of assistance, Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters seems somewhat devoid of pupils and, unable to garner much support for his mission, he forms his own motley collective of wannabe heroes, only one of whom proves to be of any help at all, namely Domino (Zazie Beets), whose superpower is nothing more than just being lucky, which does provide some amusing moments during the endless series of action sequences which, other than being somewhat gorier than other Marvel offerings, fail to offer anything that sets them apart from any of the films that emerge from this particular studio.
The loss of Baccarin’s character is a significant one in that Vanessa was a sexy/sassy foil to Wade’s cocky posturing, one of the few to understand what lies beneath the smug persona. Wade’s never-ending wisecracks and penchant for extreme violence as a way of dealing with his grief makes it difficult to extend him any sympathies, and therein lies with biggest problem with Deadpool 2 in that it is hard to care too much about any of the people involved. Are we supposed to feel sorry for Russell because of the way he has been treated? Should we sympathise with Cable because of the tragedy that was the catalyst for his journey into the past? The inclusion of TJ Miller as Weasel in a reprisal of his character from the first film certainly doesn’t help in this regard in light of the sexual assault allegations against him and his arrest over a bomb threat; although we can take some comfort in the fact his character name could not be more fitting. It is probably everything that a diehard fan might expect, but Deadpool 2 spends too much time trying to be funny (with mixed results). It is spectacular at times and there are certainly some laughs to be had, but with predictable plotting and lack of character development, there is nothing particularly memorable about any of it.