Even if you're not sure what the term "sequelitis" means, you've probably seen it. It's when, in an effort to give filmgoers a new experience with a movie franchise, filmmakers and studio executives stuff a movie full of new characters, side plots, and more extreme action scenes.
They mean well. But all too often, it sucks the life out of sequels, leaving behind a bloated, unevenly toned corpse. It often happens when you have a relatively simple first film, and studio idiots think they need to implant some massive, epic mythology to keep things interesting. Examples: Well, every Pirates of the Caribbean sequel immediately come to mind. So does Pacific Rim 2. I'm sure you can think of plenty of additional examples without my help.
Deadpool 2 has a pretty bad case of sequelitis. Tone issues. a whole host of new characters demanding our attention. More action, and beefed-up thematic material, too. And the movie does suffer for it. But DP2 is the rare film that goes to war with Sequelitis, punches that motherfucker in the gonads, and comes out on top.
Deadpool 2 finds our titular hero (Ryan Reynolds) at rock bottom and looking for his place in life. This search leads him to Russell (Julian Dennison), a 14-year-old New Zealander with a fiery mutant talent and an even more explosive temper.
Oh, and did I mention Cable (Josh Brolin) yet? Yeah. This time-traveling, metal-armed son of a bitch shows up primed to dust Russell to prevent future death and destruction. Deadpool drafts his own team of superpowered bad asses, including the hilarious Peter (Rob Delaney) and the ass-kicking Domino (Zazie Beetz), to save Russell and the day.
Deadpool was a relatively simple flick. DP needs to save his lady from a douchebag bad guy. Pretty straight-forward. DP2 features time travel, several scenes where DP visits some sort of dream world (I can't get too specific here without spoilers), a big-ass prison sequence and a whole backstory for Cable. All that gets squeezed into a runtime of fewer than two hours. That's a lotta shit to do in that amount of time.
That means some things are gonna suffer. Add in this film needs time for jokes, and you've got a very difficult balancing act to handle. Director David Leitch handles all this pretty gamely, but there are chinks in the armor. Some comedic beats could have been cut back. A couple gags (again, can't get detailed without spoiling stuff) get run into the ground. A side plot involving Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) is really out of step with the rest of the movie, tonally. It was the cinematic equivalent of that taste you get in your mouth when you drink orange juice soon after you brush your teeth.
Other issues I had were mostly personal nit-picky type stuff. Dennison bears a resemblance to the fat kid in that one episode of Metalocalypse. Every time he was onscreen, Dethklok was playing in my head. It was kind of cool, but it was also distracting. I also wanted to see more of Negasonic Teenage Warhead. She gets shuffled aside for new characters, and that bummed me out. Lastly, some of the pop culture jokes and references are getting old for me. I mean, how many times can you laugh at Ryan Reynolds cracking Ryan Reynolds jokes?
But there's a lot of jokes that work, and work gut-bustingly well. The DP/Cable fight is as funny as it is brutal. We even get a pretty killer chase scene, and killer chase scenes seem to be getting hard to come by.
Reynolds is golden as DP, to the point where I really hope I never see anyone don the Mouthy Merc's red spandex. Watching him riff with other members of the cast is priceless. Brolin kills it as Cable, a guy I can totally see sitting on his porch in the future demanding that kids get the fuck off his lawn.
Eddie Marsan shows up, which made me smile in spite of his character's creepy shittiness. Oh, and Zazie Beetz as Domino... She made me believe luck is totally a superpower. She's hilarious, bad ass and totally gorgeous.
And then, as a cherry atop this sundae of gory, profane hilarity, there's the mid-credits scene. This is easily the most Deadpool thing ever put on film and it gave something I've wanted to see ever since they announced they were gonna be making Deadpool movies. I almost cried, I was so happy.
Deadpool 2 is as bouncing, fleet or fresh as the first DP flick. It gets lost in meandering side stories and tries too hard to mash together tones that don't work together. But it's still funny and full of awesome comic-booky violence. It even tries to be about something other than making fun of other movies. This attempt at growth doesn't come without pain, but it is completely worth admiring.