“Maximum Effort!” Says the titular, taco-chomping hero in his first go at a blockbuster. And that’s exactly what we get in his second attempt. Trouble is, Deapool 2 tries so hard to begin with, it feels (X) Forced.
When the merc-with-a-mouth first hit a convoy of henchmen back in 2016, it was a refreshing take on the laden superhero flick. Not taking itself too seriously, meant it could take the shoe-string budget and stretch it using inventive action, 4th wall breaking and good ol’ fashioned rib-tickling to get itself out of any jam it found itself in. Now in 2018 where anyone buying a ticket to see the follow up to Red’s antics can quote the original, the opener seems a little uncomfortable in its own skin. The beginning sequences try to recapture some of the magic that made Deadpool so original, but only manages a facsimile of the funny.
Then there’s the ham-fisted character development. Whether it be in the funny pages or the flicks, what made Deadpool so interesting was his efforts to divert from obvious development. The glimmers of the tortured soul wrapped in all the quips made him the most compelling clown on the block. So when he starts to pick baby names and lament on his absentee father, you’ll find yourself waiting for a gag that never comes. Even when Deadpool arrives at the X-Mansion, there’s a hope a more fulfilling gear will shift, but instead is a slew of hollow X-Movie jokes that seem like they belong in a second-rate superhero sit-com. The only thing that’s missing is the canned laughter.
With the rapid-fire jappery Deadpool 2 unloads from the clip, the jokes can be as off-centre as hit bulls eye. Reynolds’ glaring charisma ensures that even the humorous mis-fires are spared a painful death.
Then, something awesome happens…Enter: Cable.
At about the half-way mark Deadpool 2 zips up its spandex and remembers who it is. Cable loads something intriguing into the chamber of Deadpool 2 and puts the audience in the cross-hairs. His efficient and methodical tactics give Deadpool’s improv approach a run for its money and his gruff, monosyllabic delivery is a combative contrast to Deadpool’s hyperbole. It’s like DP2 stops putting the effort into being funny, because it remembers it is without trying.
Suddenly unafraid to get serious and pepper the action with self-referential comedy, the prison break in/out finds a comforting groove. From this point on, not only does Deadpool 2 feel like its old self, but the inventive action that gave the first outing its spectacle is dialled up. Not only does the the newbie X-Team Wade puts together offer hilarious misfortune, but Domino’s serendipity presents one of the most bombastic hijacks in recent memory, that ups the ante until it comes off the rails. Surprisingly, in amongst all the laughs, self-aware monologing and action, Deadpool 2 actually manages to find a genuine heart. You may be surprised just how much.