Standing at a roulette table unsure of a number, one might listen to a friend's suggestion, tossing a few too many chips on the table. The friend's number hits but after some cheers, the same friend who picked this number encourages putting most of the winnings on the next higher number. More chips are suddenly on the table and the game continues. The little white ball stops rolling and the next number hits, making the same winner for the second time, with this new color and a greater reward: laying the chips is 20th Century Fox, that friend is Ryan Reynolds, and the hefty reward is Deadpool 2.
On the heels of an unexpected smash-hit, Deadpool 2 arrives burdened with following up a once-considered-risky R-rated film praised for its unique originality and shockingly brash sense of humor. While the Ryan Reynolds-lead sequel leads the way with a similar formula to its predecessor, it builds on the successes in almost every way for 119 minutes of raunchy laughs and grotesque violence impressively being juxtaposed with an unexpectedly heavy amount of heart.
Deadpool 2 doesn't allow its opening credits to roll before it dives into timely pop culture references, geek culture fan service, and a hilariously violent re-introduction to the mercenary who just won't shut up. Whereas in the original film, Deadpool is forced to discover his inner heroic abilities when the mutant gene is tapped, he ends up finding the heroic abilities in others for the sequel. A reason which shouldn't be discussed until after the film releases as a means to preserve spoilers forces the anti-hero to assemble the X-Force team (or, at least, some semblance of it) which brings out the best in the film's early acts.
When Reynolds gets to bounce off other cast members, like Zazie Beetz who steps in as Domino or Julian Dennison and his Russell character, it seems like a daunting task for the surrounding actors. The star has an endless resume of quick witted chops but everyone around him for Deadpool 2 can hang, meaning the movie ends up felling like a P90X ab challenge by the time it's over. Laugh after laugh, riffing on Josh Brolin's involvement in the other big-screen Marvel movie universe or the DC-world where Reynolds once tried and failed, Deadpool 2 is relentless in its comedy courtesy of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and the undeniable on-set decisions.
Balancing out the comedy is the action, as is to be expected in any super hero film. John Wick's director David Leitch, however, doesn't pour it on too heavily. There is just enough space between each fast-paced brawl sequence, each of which push Brolin and Reynolds to their stunt-limits (and might show how much credit Keanu Reeves deserves for the Wick movies). Leitch brings his seen-before impressive and tense beats but also shows off what he can do with less rules. Ditching reality for a time-traveling, technologically advanced brute and a mercenary capable of turning a small brick into a weapon of mass destruction allows Leitch to take his action sequences in an entirely new, somewhat less raw but equally violent, direction.
If only for the humor and action sequences, Deadpool 2 would have matched its predecessor in quality. Such a feat would be a detriment in the long term, as audiences will only stomach so many prompt innuendos for a crude laugh over time. Where Deadpool 2 excels further is in its heart. A somewhat sudden change of heart for the titular character who once refused to be called a hero implants a level of soul no one could have expected. What starts as a raunchy thrill ride takes sudden turns of emotional depth which will supplement the experience for the average moviegoers who can't grasp gags which come at other super hero films' expenses. In fact, the easy-to-follow but far-reaching emotional depth which hits late will help cement Deadpool 2 as the better of the two films so far.
Reynolds puts every bit of his talent on display, reaching a bit above any performance before this, as the script required. It's not only the abundant charm and wit but emotional resonance when needed. Opposite, Brolin checks in to counter Reynolds' endless humor for what could have been a strictly business performance. The Cable actor, however, gets serious when he needs to with facial expressions which say all the right words but also deadpans his no-nonsense lines which often end up hilarious in all the right ways.
Beetz commands her screen time, in part due to a brilliantly written role where luck leads the way. She never misses a beat at the newcomer character Domino, who is given ample time to run her mouth and duke it out, but walks away leaving everyone to want more.
Topping it all off is the fact that Deadpool 2 gets several X-Men characters right in ways which previously X-Men movies couldn't seem to pull off. Ironically enough, it's the first cinematic sign that an X-Men movie can be truly exciting in too many years.
Deadpool 2 is similar but superior to its predecessor. It is loaded with new characters for Reynolds to play with and brings out a different form (but possibly the best form) from director David Leitch. Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.