Friday, 25 May 2018

Deadpool 2 (2018) Review - [Reference] is Like [Reference] [Insert Knowing Aside Glance]

They say people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Or forget to wear clothes. An ethos which makes reviewing the Deadpool films rather awkward for me. These films are packed with the same schlocky reference driven humour as this blog. A style of humour comparable to Ask Jeeves, if it were run by a sassy black woman called Shaunda. And there you have it: I'm caught in the Deadpool humour vortex, about to centre in on my own arse.

Anything I say about the humour in these films, therefore, is a reflection on me. With that in mind: Deadpool was the big dumb cunt in the class who never knew when to shut up and jizzed into the glue supplies. Only no one actually minded too much. And after being encouraged by the stiffy he got from our adoring attention, he’s at it again with Deadpool 2(: Michael Barrymore's Other Swimming Pool).

Yes, Ryan Reynolds' Merc with a (purdy) Mouth is back. And I couldn't be happier. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may recall that I rather enjoyed the first film (which came out back in 2016). In my review, I believe I used the exact phrase: 'You could say that I was largely interested throughout the film'. Take that, Roger Ebert! In this day and age, after all, superhero films are ubiquitous. You can't go ten minutes without someone thrusting a super-powered nob in your face. It's akin to being a woman at a Hollywood awards ceremony. To find a superhero film that actually attempts to be different, is a rare feat.

But let's say that you, dear reader, are one of those girlfriends (or boyfriends) getting dragged to something you know nothing about, because you made your other half endure shite like Love Simon, perhaps you don't know anything about this Deadpool chap. Well fear not, I’ll sum the character up for you. Because fuck Wikipedia, apparently.

Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson, aka Is That Spider-Man?, is a hired killer armed with more guns than the teachers' lounge, and Samurai swords. He’s just so cool, guys (if you’re 12). Wade comes with the superpower of regeneration and a smart script writer. He explicitly knows he is in a movie/comic and references it a lot. I don’t know if this self-awareness is actually part of his powers, or some other weird coincidental ability he has. Either way, Wade will regularly break the 4th wall by referring to the actors as themselves or their other roles, or he’ll point out flaws in the movie and its script. All whilst everyone else is pretending to play it straight (like John Travolta).

The first Deadpool was a surprise hit. An R-rated comic book film - featuring gross out subversive humour and an origin story for a protagonist only the obsessives really knew anything about – was always going to be a bold gamble. But the film pulled it off like a manky old plaster. Deadpool wasn’t the first R-rated superhero film (Blade, Spawn, Dredd, Kick-Ass, Watchmen, The Punisher (1989), etc), but it was the first to show how commercially viable they can be. It made $783,112,979 worldwide against a $58 million budget. Logan followed Deadpool's lead and found similar success. Now, it’s Deadpool's inevitable sequel’s turn. Expectations are higher this time, however. And this is why I don’t bother to apply myself in anything that I do.

Obviously, there were two ways in which Deadpool 2 could have gone down. There's the Evil Dead 2 approach, in which the writers (Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Reynolds) could have played it same and retread the same old ground; or there's the Army of Darkness approach in which the writers go bigger and better. And I’ll admit that, up until I saw the movie, the trailers had me worried. I was concerned they were going to pull a Kingsman: The Golden Circle and make the film a bloated mess in order to fulfil the obligation that a sequel must be ‘bigger’ and part of some larger cinematic universe.

So, the trailers for Deadpool 2 teased that Wade would be fighting Cable (Josh Brolin) - a time travelling cyborg from a dark future, and the lovechild of Kyle Reese and the T-800; forming his own team, X-Force (one of whom is played by Terry Crews, the very definition of going bold); and teaming up with Domino (Zazie Beetz), a luck-manipulating mutant. But it as it transpires, I needed not worry. Deadpool 2 embraces the Tom Cruise formula. Minus the endless running.

Wade is making a packet as a hired killer, as the opening montage (set to Dolly Parton’s ‘9 to 5’) hilariously demonstrates. His life is pretty good: he enjoys his job, and he's banging the smoking Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Unfortunately, Vanessa is killed off (or 'fridged', if you have blue hair and a Tumblr account) as Wade's other life catches up with him. This prompts Wade to set off on a journey of redemption, which includes; pissing himself in a bar; blowing himself to smithereens; doing Tony Montana levels of coke; and dossing about with the only two X-Men who are in these films - Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and Colossus (Stefan Kapičić).

If that sounds suspiciously similar to the first one, that’s the point. In structure, the films are identical. Negasonic is still the angry teenage lesbian (now with pink-haired Japanese girlfriend, Yukio) who wouldn't look out of place as the president of the Doc Martens fanclub; and Colossus is still played as a choirboy-like figure with about 40 years of spunk built up.

If you substitute Wade’s harrowing torture/forced experimentation backstory for the death of Vanessa (for his motivation), and his quest to reunite with his long lost girlfriend for his quest to save Russell (Julian Dennison) - aka Firefist - a fat emo kid with pyrokinesis and school shooter rage from Cable (for his mission), then you'll have the same film.

A large portion of this film is basically a reverse Terminator 2. Cable travels to the past to kill Russell who'll go on to slaughter Cable's family and create a dark future, whilst Wade seeks to protect Russell

That Deadpool 2 is little more than a retread is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, why change something that isn't broken? Which is exactly what the thirteen years of New Labour were about. But when a film relies entirely on crude humour, shock value, and gory violence, there's the danger of diminishing returns. I'd say that Deadpool 2 largely avoids that fate, and sits on par with the first (or a smidgen above or below, depending on your view). If anything, the filmmakers have doubled down on the elements which fit the original like a Filipino boy.

One aspect of Deadpool 2 noticeably refined is the violence. Not surprising when you consider the film's director is one David Leitch, who cut his teeth on John Wick (2014) and Atomic Blonde (2017). The fight sequences retain the free-flowing fluidity of the original, but feel even more chaotic and impactful. Especially when the swords come out. Then it's like a Glasgow pub during happy hour, with limbs being hewn off and guts spilt liberally.

Organised chaos is an appropriate term for it. And there's one sequence in Deadpool 2 which particularly demonstrates this: the scene in which Wade and Domino attempt to prevent Cable reaching the prison convoy holding the middle of Vancouver. It's as spectacular as anything you'll find in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and perfectly showcases the domino effect of, er, Domino's abilities. The entire setpiece plays out like one giant Rube Goldberg Machine, with traffic crashing and debris flying all around Domino, only for her to go from one piece of good luck to another.

I went into Deadpool 2 with middling expectations, and came out pleasantly surprised. The film builds on a solid original to craft something which is solid in its own right. This in evident in how the principal supporting cast from the first film largely take a backseat here. Blind Al (Leslie Uggams) and Dopinder (Karan Soni) return; Blind Al is still the streetwise, blind OG granny, whilst Dopinder now has a fetish for contract killing. But my favourite returning character has to be Weasel (T.J. Miller), the owner of a bar for mercenaries. He gets some ace lines, which should piss off the #metoo crowd.

The new characters are decent enough. Cable is your everyday 'supersoldier from the future who has seen too much shit.' Brolin does a good job and adds pathos to an otherwise clichéd character; though obviously this performance is under the shadow of his recent turn as Thanos. Russell is basically me when I was 11 and discovered Slipknot and Limp Bizkit. The Juggernaut returns (also played by Reynolds), though neither a Vinnie Jones or an "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch" joke is used. Ha, 2000's culture.

However, it's Domino who is probably the standout here. She's played by Beetz with an effortless cocky self-assuredness, bouncing off Reynolds' natural charisma. The film also makes a point to show off Domino's armpit hair. I'm not sure where that leaves us, but I feel BuzzFeed are creaming their knickers.

Whilst the film's humour may fall flat compared to the original's, due to lack of novelty, it is clear the creative team are confident in the brand's identity. I never thought the movies were that funny. The rapid fire quips and references are largely hit and miss. "Dubstep's for pussies", is one such joke. But it's the self-deprecating meta-humour and fourth wall breaking which make these films. And Deadpool 2 is certainly on point in that department. The movie opens with a massive spoiler for Logan. Wade also gets his own James Bond style opening sequence and ballad...sung by Celine Dion.

But the greatest bit of meta-humour is the mid credits scene, with Wade going back in time to terminate both the original (shit) Deadpool from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and a pre-Green Lantern Ryan Reynolds himself. Which works because Deadpool 2 is ultimately about fixing the mistakes of the past. Like a workaholic abortionist.

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